Film Reviews


By • Apr 22nd, 2005 •

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Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia and Beijing Film Studio of China Film Group Corp. and the Star Overseas Ltd. Present / A Sony Pictures Classics Release
In Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles
No MPAA rating / Running time — 95 minutes

QUOTE: Stephen Chow’s peculiar vision of an action-comedy-musical-drama. For over-the-top excess, this takes pride-of-place.

The murderous Ax Gang opens with a big Broadway musical number. From the ultra-stylish streets of Hong Kong we go directly to Pig’s Sty Alley, so poor the villagers live peacefully. Well, if you call being harassed all day long by a fouled-mouth Landlady (Yuen Qi) and her lecherous husband, Landlord (Yuen Wah), living in peace. Landlady is so mean she rations the rainwater. The Ax Gang find their way to Pig’s Sty Alley and the half-dressed peasants, who are all trained in kung-fu, fight back. An all-out turf war ensues. Axes fly and body parts are flung all over. Somehow, a petty thief, Sing (Stephen Chow Sing-chi), and his sidekick (Lam Tze-chung), get involved. The story is intentionally stream-of-consciousness convoluted. There is no story structure. Chow throws everything at us that he finds amusing or just for the hell of it.

This is the kind of moviemaking that we hail! Chow, obviously without any studio guidelines and no screenplay to constrict his creativity, does exactly as he pleases. And, in a peculiar way, makes a highly entertaining Hong Kong action-comedy-musical-drama.

The Ax Gang unearths The Beast (Leung Siu-lung) a demon-savior of fantastic powers. He refuses to die no matter what devastation or boulder is pounded on top of him. He is truly a remarkable and fascinating entity. Why not a movie all about The Beast? Does he have a girlfriend? Does he need a place to stay in Las Vegas?

Chow uses all the technology available and creates a meringue of genres. He has loosened the movie guidelines on comedy, action, and killing. And when the Landlady takes out her hair rollers and starts her roar, the movie takes a wilder turn. Chow, through the characters he has created here, is a harbinger of what will no doubt turn up a Hollywood movie. You don’t need to be a fan of Hong Kong kung fu movies to enjoy the fun and craziness of KUNG FU HUSTLE.

Stephen Chow was a special guest at ShoWest 2005 and graciously did one-on-one interviews with members of the Las Vegas Film Critics Society.

Sing: Stephen Chow Sing-chi
Landlord: Yuen Wah
The Beast: Leung Siu-lung
Brother Sum: Chan Kwok-kwan
Landlady: Yuen Qi
Fong: Eva Huang Sheng-yi
Sing’s sidekick: Lam Tze-chung
Ax gang adviser: Tin Kai-man

Director: Stephen Chow Sing-chi
Producers: Stephen Chow Sing-chi, Chui Po-chu, Jeff Lau
Writers: Stephen Chow Sing-chi, Tsang Kan-cheong
Co-writer: Lola Huo
Action choreographer: Yuen Wo-ping
Additional action choreography: Sammo Hung
Director of photography: Poon Hang-sang
Production designer: Oliver Wong
Editor: Angie Lam
Visual effects supervisor: Frankie Chung
Costume designer: Shirley Chan
Composer: Raymond Wong
Sound: Leung Chi-tat
Makeup: Maggie Choy
Digital effects: Centro Digital Pictures

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