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Shaolin Soccer (2001)

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[Movie Reviews]


-Stephen Chow
-Ng Man Tat
-Vicki Zhao


Fung is a former soccer star, who had his leg injured in an "accident" that was arranged by another jealous player. Many years later, he is now working for that man who runs his "evil team" and treats him like dirt. One day he meets up with a Shaolin Kung Fu master, Sing. After seeing Sing fight off some aggressors by kicking soccer balls at them, he gets the idea of putting together a kung fu soccer team. Sing gathers his kung fu brothers and they start on their quest to become a championship team.


I will tell you one thing. "Shaolin Soccer" is probably one of the most unforgettable films you will see, ever. It is so crazy and whacked out that you can't help but think about it constantly, after viewing it. Luckily, I can say this all in a good context. This film is a whacky comedy that is just pure fun to watch. It is the perfect film when you just wanna sit down, have a laugh, and have some fun.

The plotline for the film is pretty standard for this type of a movie. We have seen other movies where some group of people are down and outs, an opportunity comes along, and they have to overcome the odds. It's much the same here, and the flow is just as one would expect. But, it is Stephen Chow's unique style that stands out as we go from scene to scene. From the look of the film, to the character interaction, to the goofy comedy - its Chow all the way. Expect complete wackiness at some points. Very amusing for fans of the style. Those who have never seen any other Stephen Chow films may be taken off guard at first, especially with this film being particularly whacked out, but in the end the entertainment of it all will be the memory they ultimately keep.

The action in the film is a big draw. You have never seen a sports scene like the ones here. An insane combination of kung fu and soccer makes for some very fun and interesting action scenes. Chow's double bicycle kick, a guy spinning his legs in the air to control the ball, an awesome Bruce Lee clone goalie, the list goes on. These scenes will keep you coming back for more and more with their over-the-top, but well choreographed action.

Much has been made of the special effects in the film. Yes, they are glaringly obvious at points. That's not the point. This isn't exactly a realistic film and the special effects do not look "realistic" in many places. They do, however, look very cool and add a great effect to the action. When Chow kicks the ball and it turns into a flaming lion.... damn, it's cool! The special effects are quite good in some places, too. The bounce of the ball is quite good in many parts, making it blend in as a real object reacting to the kicks.

There is also a nice little subplot involving a young lady named Mui who makes bread with Tai Chi skills. Sing approaches her and is very impressed with her skills. She has a scarred face and is very insecure about herself, but Sing pushes her to be happier with herself. This leads into somewhat of a reluctant romance subplot. It was quite a good subplot and I actually wish that it was developed more. This is, of course, just a choice on film direction and in no way faults the filmmakers for choosing to focus more on the soccer aspect itself.

Shaolin Soccer is just a fun film, plain and simple. Lots of goofy comedy and some crazy soccer action scenes will make this worth many multiple spins in your DVD player. It doesn't have any greater meaning and its core plot may be pretty standard, but that's not what this film is about. It doesn't top my favorites list, and it doesn't need to. I understand perfectly why it became the HK box office champion. With universal fun-time appeal - its a great viewing for anybody.


-Stephen Chow, Lik-Chi Lee


-Original Cantonese language.