Thursday, 4 October 2007

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Stephen Chow latest target of burlesque is the kungfu genre. This is hardly surprising, as this is not only a very popular genre for audience, but this genre has always associated with comedy (think of all the Jackie Chan and Sumo Hung action/kungfu flicks). Last but not least, Stephen Chow is a huge kungfu fan. Just look at his physique.

Just like Forbidden City Cop (1998), a parody of wuxia, the great martial artists in both films, whom usually portrayed as cool looking, respectable, upstanding characters are being down played as some comical, shabby, loud-mouthed characters. This times, the characters behaved this way not simply for laughs, but grows out of the organic needs of the story that they need to lay low and blend in.

For Cantonese movie fan who have watched The House of 72 Tenants (1973), you will correctly guess that the characters, and indeed the stage set of Kung Fu Hustle comes from that 1972 historically the most important Cantonese movie.

And the most memorable character of the Landlady bears a striking resemblance of the Shanghai Po (Lydia Shum) in The House of 72 Tenants.

The Landlady
In this kungfu spoof, he has managed to escalate his brand of humour to a fine art form. It's so obscenely ludicrous that it's good. It's mo-lei-tau at its best.

Having said that, the kind of absolutely over-the-top almost supernatural kungfu depicted in this movie also inspired by old Cantonese Buddha Palm that was made in the 1965. Every movie goer who grew up in the 1960s are unaware of this Cantonese classic.

You could say that this action comedy is a tribute to the 2 well known Cantonese B&W classics - one comedy and the other kungfu flick.

The House of 72 Tenants (1973)
This set and cast from The House of 72 Tenants bears a strike resemblence
with Kung Fu Hustle.

Oh yeah, there's also a bit of feel good romance on the side just to keep the female date you take to the cinema interested. Now, your girl friend would crane her neck over and snuggle into your broad, solid chest (I assume you have those) while the sweet scenes appear. No need to pretend you're having a big yawn to put your arm around her. Such sneaky move is done to death, and very transparent (even if it occurs behind her back, AND in the dark). You may even get a fat, juicy smooch out of the blue (I mean, out of the dark). But it may become a distraction for this fine comedy. Well, you win some, you lose some.

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