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After a fateful mistake costing his career, an ex-soccer player bum meets a shaolin kung fu student trying to spread the word of kung fu. The ex-soccer player helps reconcile with his five brothers, and teaches them soccer, adding shaolin kung fu as a twist. Written by
What a wonderful sports film. STOP, read that line one more time. I ask you to do this because you will probably never see this again.
This was a sports film, for me to say that it wasn't would be a bold faced lie. This had all the characteristics of the modern Hollywood sports film, but what made it stand out and enjoyable is that it did not take itself seriously AND it had some amazing CGI action sequences. I recently watched a film called Equilibrium where it was mentioned that it could rival the popularity of The Matrix, well I would have to say that perhaps this film, Siu lam juk kau, would probably do more in toppling the king of bullet-time cinematography than Equilibrium would. I was impressed from the beginning till the end of this movie. The characters were all animated and individual in their own way. There was time used to set them up and learn about each of them. This wasn't one of those films where you spent most of your time with one of the characters then never really got to know the rest of them you knew them all and couldn't wait to see what they were going to bring to the table next. Hong Kong has crafted a spectacular film here. They have taken the popularity of the bullet-time effect and applied it to a genre that definitely needed a face-lift. I am surprised that America wasn't the first to do this, but we are a nation that loves the standard sports film, so why change what we love. PWFSSSST. We are so lazy sometimes.
Siu lam juk kau tells a spectacular story coupled with some amazing graphics to create a story about love, teamwork, and superpowers. I also enjoyed the fact that this film also tried to say that kung-fu is not an old topic, that it can and should still be used in society today. When we think of the martial arts films (and physical aspect), we see them as a very old and dated genre. Well, let me be the first to say that they are coming back, and coming back with a vengeance. I enjoyed the fact that this was a revenge film. So many of our kung-fu films are revenge films, I was happy to see that this one was not far off. This film used techniques that I have not seen used in any other films. They took the old, skillful ways of the dated kung-fu film, added the work of bullet-time, and added the sports flare to it to create Siu lam juk kau. It had us laughing, it kept us based in reality, and it focused my attention to the screen for the entire film (a task that no other sports film has been able to do). I think that by having your star also direct it (directed and starred Stephen Chow) it builds upon a sense of comfortability with the story. Chow is a master of slapstick, yet seldom overdoes the silliness, choosing carefully timed gags and meticulously mounted visual construction over slapdash comedy. The film is also no stranger to the bizarre, with Chow's multiple homages to Steven Spielberg, and a weird egg gag that I'm honestly shocked still remains the American cut of the picture.
Overall, Siu lam juk kau is a amazing combination of comedy, action, romance, and dazzling soccer footage, forming an irresistible package to those looking for something they haven't seen before. We see that it is a personal story that everyone is having fun being a part of. That also helped this film the characters really wanted to be in this film and it shined like the North Star through our screen. The dubbing (which seemed off a couple times) only added delight to this film. Chow's Siu lam juk kau, is and will always be breathtaking.
Grade: ***** out of *****
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