Wednesday 26th January 2022

Kung Fu Hustle (15)
Directed by: Stephen Chow
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz
Makes you wonder what they're all looking at...
Makes you wonder what they're all looking at...

Martial arts films, like magicians, tend to come in one of two flavours: either dramatic or comedic. For anyone who has seen Stephen Chow's last film, Shaolin Soccer, it will come as no surprise that this one falls well on the comedy side of things.

The film opens with a scene reminiscent of the opening of West Side Story, with a gang of bad guys (The Axe Gang) beating up some local hoodlums in the street and almost dancing as they do it. They use axes and guns to assist with their dirty work and some of the violence in the scene is quite brutal. From there, however, the film turns into something much more ridiculous.

It's not worth attempting to describe the plot of this film, because there isn't really much of a storyline and also because some of the fun of a film like this is trying to discern what little plot there is! Kung Fu Hustle is set in the 1940's and borrows heavily from many other films and genres. There is a wonderful homage to Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon in the final battle scene and the style of the sets may remind you of Dick Tracy, Bonnie and Clyde or even The Godfather, although the content is nothing like those films.

Instead the film is made up of several wonderfully engaging and completely over-the-top fight scenes, made more fantastic by the use of some simple CG effects – a device used much more rarely in Hong Kong than in Hollywood. However, hardly a minute goes by in this film without some ludicrous joke or comedy moment appearing on screen, to give a weird blend of brutal and bloodthirsty kung fu (choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping) and silly, slapstick humour. This is really the trademark of Stephen Chow, who writes and stars in this, his seventh outing behind the camera.

If you're a fan of martial arts films (and I know I am) then you will undoubtedly want to check this out, especially if you enjoy the more comedic attempts at the genre. Otherwise, everyone should experience at least one film like this, so what better place to start than a walk through the faintly ridiculous?

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Length: 95 minutes
Certificate: 15
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 24th June 2005

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