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Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kung fu (original title)
Trailer
1:44 | Trailer
In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious "Axe Gang" while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf.

Director:

Stephen Chow

Writers:

Stephen Chow, Kan-Cheung Tsang (as Tsang Kan Cheong) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
2,760 ( 341)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 25 wins & 46 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen Chow ... Sing
Xiaogang Feng ... Crocodile Gang Boss (as Feng Xiao Gang)
Wah Yuen ... Landlord
Zhihua Dong ... Donut (as Zhi Hua Dong)
Danny Kwok-Kwan Chan ... Brother Sum (as Danny Chan)
Tze-Chung Lam ... Bone (Sing's Sidekick) (as Lam Tze Chung)
Siu-Lung Leung ... The Beast
Qiu Yuen ... Landlady
Kai-Man Tin ... Axe Gang Advisor
Kang Xi Jia Kang Xi Jia ... Harpist #1
Hark-On Fung ... Harpist #2
Shengyi Huang ... Fong
Suet Lam ... Axe Gang Vice General
Cheung-Yan Yuen ... Beggar (as Cheng Yan Yuen)
Chi Ling Chiu ... Tailor
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Storyline

Set in Canton, China in the 1940s, the story revolves in a town ruled by the Axe Gang, Sing who desperately wants to become a member. He stumbles into a slum ruled by eccentric landlords who turns out to be the greatest kung-fu masters in disguise. Sing's actions eventually cause the Axe Gang and the slumlords to engage in an explosive kung-fu battle. Only one side will win and only one hero will emerge as the greatest kung-fu master of all. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

So many gangsters...so little time. See more »

Genres:

Action | Comedy | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sequences of strong stylized action and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At one point the landlord and his wife are seen through their window Cha-cha dancing. This is a nod to Bruce Lee who won the 1958 Hong Kong National Cha-cha championship. See more »

Goofs

When Sing is sitting on the curb after splitting up with his sidekick, his jacket is on the ground beside him. Two guys grab him and take him to the Axe Gang's HQ. He enters wearing the jacket, which had been left behind. See more »

Quotes

Donut: [in English] What are you prepared to do?
Landlord: We can't understand what you're saying!
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Alternate Versions

The film was slightly cut/altered in mainland China to satisfy the local censors (these changes were carried over to the U.S. release):
  • After the scene where the landlady knocks the landlord out the window onto the ground, the original version shows a bit of blood flowing out from under the landlord's face after the plant smashes his head. The mainland version removes the blood.
  • Sing's failed attempt in intimidating a Pig Sty village farmer, who punches him square in the stomach. The original version shows Sing spitting out blood, which ends up appearing on the farmer's face after Sing asks her what she does. The mainland version digitally removes both the blood being spit out (but blood is still seen around his mouth, implying it was "coming up") as well as the blood splats on the farmer's face.
  • During the night scene right before the attack from the musicians there is a long take showing what most of the residents of Pig Sty are doing, including someone crouching on the ground having a "bowel movement". The original version shows a piece of paper with excrement on it implying what he was doing, while the mainland version removes the paper and its "contents", leaving the viewer confused as to why he's simply crouching down with his pants partially down.
  • When "The Beast" punches Sing in the chest in the casino, two extra shots appear in the original cut, with the first being a slow motion shot of blood spraying upward The Beast's face, and the second being another slow motion shot, this time of Sing's head flying back with blood spraying from his mouth.
  • Soon after this, Sing's face is punched into the ground by The Beast, and a slow motion shot of The Beast's bloody hand being raised from the ground is shown in the original cut. The mainland cut simply jumps from the shot of Sing's head being punched through the ground to the low angle shot of The Beast pulling his fist up.
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Connections

Referenced in Kim's Convenience: Hapkido (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Chuang Jiang Ling
Composed by Yu Hui Yong / Hu Deng Tiao
Administered by Music Copyright Society of China
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User Reviews

Stephen Chow is truly a great director...
16 September 2004 | by peter_K_2001See all my reviews

Chaplin, Allen and now actor, writer, producer and director Stephen Chow can join the select few whose remarkable talent as a performer matches his ability behind the lens; Kung Fu Hustle proves it.

Chow is no stranger to direction. In 1994 Chow co-directed Love on Delivery and since then a number of other self starring projects and many of these projects are considered the best of his acting career. However his skills as a comedian - be it his brash physical comedy (Shaolin Soccer), his manical scenarios (Tricky Brains) or epic historical parodies (A Chinese Oddsey) - have never outshined his talents as a director. Kung Fu Hustle not only reminds us of Chow's terrific comedic timing, it introduces us to his stunning visual eye and exhilarating action direction.

More importantly this addition to Chow's superb filmography finally allows us a means of defining his technique. A master of blending both comedy and visceral action with artistic integrity and traditional melodrama. It has been awhile since a director has been able to take me from quite serious and intense graphic violence to over the top ridiculous spoofing. The contrast of atmosphere and mood throughout the film is incredible and even more incredible is Chow's ability to make it all work. When the scene is funny you appreciate the comedy, when it switches gears to action you are blown away by the terrific sequences, when it switches to melodrama you are on the edge of your seat awaiting character responses, and when they're all fused together you do exactly what Chow is hoping you'll do. You laugh.

So I liked the film, but what is the film exactly. Like most Stephen Chow films while the concept is simple to describe, the execution is far more complex. Kung Fu Hustle tells the story of Sing, a wannabe gangster attempting to join the famous Axe Gang (who during some of the early scenes seem to spoof Gangs of New York - look for a firework visual quote), a legion of black suits responsible for a series of gruesome murders and complete dominance over a 1940s Hong Kong. Sing's reasons for wanting to join the gang are simple: bad guys are cooler. His arrogance causes a war to break out between a poor housing complex that secretly holds a number hidden talents and the murderous axe gang. What starts as a relatively small skirmish (and I mean relatively) explodes into a war of Miike's "Dead or Alive" proportions.

The use of digital effects in this film are extreme. Chow having succumbed to the digital revolutions in Shaolin Soccer, manages once again to use his effects wisely. There are a terrific number of effects shots in this film far more then I've ever seen in a Hong Kong production (save maybe the terrible Wesley's Mysterious File) and while I am disappointed at the lack of practical effects the impressive quality of them more then makes up for it. This film simply does not look like a Hong Kong film. It rivals Hollywood features in every category (set, costumes cinematography), but amazingly enough the CGI is really good! You can notice most of the effects, but that doesn't matter because they are used for laughs and effectively so. Some of the effects not only will have you in stitches, but also in shock and awe at the sheer incredibility of some of the scenes. One scene that sticks out is a terrific spoof of the Road Runner. Its not hilarious, but also a visual feast.

The impressive action is thanks largely to the great choreography talent including both Sammo Hung and Yuen Wo Ping (each working on the film at spate occasions). Yuen Wo Ping manages to take a scene that appears to be rehash of the Burly Brawl (hundreds of suits against one guy) and manages to make it not only fresh, but a thousand times more exciting and intense. These fight sequences demand the attention of any cinephile who claims themselves a fan of marital art cinema. Wachowski's take not, this is how you direct Yuen Wo Ping to this artistic peak.

So everything seems great, right? This has to be Chow's best, right? Actually not everything works and is not at all Chow's best film. It is not his funniest film, but that is because it takes the risk of exploring the action genre. It also relies a bit too much on CGI, and while its use is effective, it can occasionally bring you out of the film. Compared to his other films this film ranks #1 for its visuals and action, but in terms of laughs and writing it cannot surpass the classics. That being said Kung Fu Hustle is absolute blast. See it if you can at the Toronto Film Festival, import it on DVD and catch in theaters when Sony Classics brings it here (in Febuary I believe). It is action comedy at its finest.

Three cheers for Chow Sing Chi!


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

Hong Kong | China | USA

Language:

Cantonese | Mandarin

Release Date:

22 April 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kung Fu Hustle See more »

Filming Locations:

China See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$269,225, 10 April 2005

Gross USA:

$17,108,591

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$104,882,445
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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