I am a big fan of Kung Fu on film, whether it be Bruce Leeâ€™s Enter The Dragon or Jackie Chanâ€™s Drunken Master I can’t get enough. More specifically I love Asian Kung Fu cinema, the Sammo Hung’s and the Sonny Chiba’s. So I think it goes without saying that this isnâ€™t the first time Iâ€™ve seen Kung Fu Hustle, and it certainty wonâ€™t be the last.
Itâ€™s the 1930â€™s in Shanghai and various gangs compete for territory, the most powerful being the deadly Axe Gang. The police are powerless and it seems the only people that can live without fears are the poor ones, who the gangs have no interest in. That is until things get shaken up by Sing (Stephen Chow, Shaolin Soccer) and his sidekick Bone (Lam Chi Chung, Shaolin Soccer). The two pose as Axe members in the tenement Pig Sty Alley, where they attract the attention of real gang members. Catastrophe is merely averted when three local tradesman the coolie, tailor, and baker showcase their kung fu talents and thwart an Axe gang attack.
The peace can only be maintained temporarily and everyone has their own problems to deal with. Sing and Bone are on the verge of their dream, entry into the Axe gang. The tenants of Pig Sty Alley are targets for deadly assassins, and Sing just might have more potential than initially expected. But things really hit the fan when the Beast (Bruce Leung Siu-lung, Magnificent Bodyguards) is sent to put an end to all the turmoil in Pig Sty Alley. Only a true hero can stop him and the destruction he is sure to bring.
I enjoy the style of this movie, it had a very classic vibe to it with the whole kung fu hero angle. Not only were there some really intense fight scenes but Kung Fu Hustle managed to be rather humorous as well. The actors were great especially the combination of Stephen Chow and Chi Chung Lam, who not only played good roles, but choreographed some awesome fight scenes. Kung Fu Hustle is sure to be a hit amongst fans of classic martial arts cinema as well as contemporary cinema viewers.
For those of you that know Hong Kong martial arts films you will be happy to hear that after 15 years into retirement Bruce Leung Siu-lung makes his way back onto film as the Beast. There are as well several other familiar faces that you will be happy to see including Yuen Wah, Chiu Chi Ling, and Yuen Woo-ping.
This fun and intense film of martial arts is a great example of where Hong Kong cinema is going, and if youâ€™re a fan of other Stephen Chow films like Shaolin Soccer you will be sure to enjoy this one.
Presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio Kung Fu Hustle returns to DVD with some fine looking results. Fans looking for a completely new and improved transfer from the original DVD release will be disappointed as this looks exactly the same. Although this is hardly a bad thing as the original offered clear picture with impressive color. The same holds true with this release, colors and detail all look good. The unique set design comes alive with some impressive depth and detail.
The print does have a few cases of speckling but are rarely seen if in front of the color white. Some of the CGI effects look soft and grainy; surely this is in part to quality of the effects themselves. There are a few non CGI scenes that look soft and grainy as well but for the most part this is a good looking transfer
Sony has included a 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track for both the English and Chinese languages. There are quite a few actions sequences in this movie and all of them sound good. My favorite has got to be the fight with the three masters and harpist assassins. The sound from the assassins attacks sound both beautiful and frightening, with some extraordinary use of the rear channels. As for dialogue, both tracks do a good job but the Chinese track sounds best (I hate Dubbing). Each sounds clear and blends nicely with the fight sequences and music. Kung Fu Hustle has some great action material and the track does a good job presenting this.
In addition to the entire feature set from the original release, The Axe Kickinâ€™ Edition features a handful of new informative features worth checking out.
- Comedy Central Interview – A short 2 minute interview with Stephen Chow discussing various aspects of the film. Some interesting questions include the hardest scenes to film.
- Comedy Central Bloopers and Outtakes – These are not bloopers from the film but rather from the above interview. Although the feature is only 2 Â½ minutes, it still provides a few laughs that are worth checking out.
- Organized Chaos – This 10 minute feature focuses on the films excellent fight choreography done by Yuen Yo Ping. Yuen discusses how he made the kung fu style reminiscent of films done in the 40s and 50s.
- Bring Down the House – A 7 minute interview with production designer Oliver Wong discussing the creation of various sets including the Axe Gang headquarters and Pig Sty Alley.
- Dressed to Kill – A 6 minute interview with costume designer Shirley Chan who discusses how she chose various costumes for characters such as The Beast and Landlady.
- Storyboard Comparison – A PIP comparison between the actual movie and storyboard sketch.
- Ric Meyers Interview with Stephen Chow – A one on one interview with Stephan Chow discussing his beginnings as an actor to the production of Kung Fu Hustle. This interview is much more in-depth and interesting than the one from Comedy Central.
- Clean out Pig Sty Alley – A simply game playable on DVD-ROM.
Kung Fu Hustle is a great movie, for fans of the genre and otherwise. There is good comedy, good action, and a good story what more could you want in a movie. Along with the great movie comes a quality audio and video transfer with a nice handful of special features. The Axe Kickinâ€™ release is slightly more violent the original release and offers more features, not worth a double dip but easily the better version.