Shaolin Soccer (12A)
Time Out saysComing on with extreme silliness and a plethora of goodwill, ‘Shaolin Soccer’ is the kung fu-football comedy crossover the world’s been waiting for. Cocking a snook at the sober beauty of ‘Hero’ and the cod-profundity of ‘The Matrix’, this is cinema at its most outrageously enjoyable: a fast and loose Hong Kong stew of Zucker brothers genre terrorism, Tarantinoesque kaleidoscopic stylism, Jackie Chan karate slapstick and Warner Bros cartoon lunacy. It should be a mess; instead, it’s one of the funniest flicks of the year.
The plot is minimalism itself: a group of shaolin monks gone to seed are called into training by a former pro to take on the all-conquering Team Evil in the National Soccer Cup. Leaving that to take care of itself, Stephen Chow (who writes, stars, directs, edits and produces) gets on with spooling together magnificently dumb fight-and-football sequences, works in a low-key love angle, knocks up a couple of song-and-dance routines, tips nods to anything from ‘Band of Brothers’ to ‘The Seven Samurai’ and generally maintains a barrage of every visual and comedic trick in the book (even the bad dubbing is perfectly judged, while the 400-odd special-effects shots are flawless). The humour here is broad but never crude or cruel; even as Chow refuses to take anything too seriously, his affection for cinema and respect for the audience oozes from every scene. You could call it a guilty pleasure, but that would suggest you feel bad about enjoying yourself.
Fri Nov 12, 2004