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Siu Lam Juk Kau (少林足球) The Star Overseas Entertainment, Ltd./Universe Entertainment, 2001 Miramax Pictures, 2004 Directed by Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle, God of Cookery) Running Time: 112 minutes Rated II-B (HK) for graphic violence, slight nudity and profanity. (Author's Note: This review is for the original Hong Kong version, not the butchered U.S. version.) Cast Stephen Chow (Sing in Kung Fu Hustle, himself in God of Cookery) as Sing (Mighty Steel Leg) Vicky Zhao Wei (Sun Shangxiang in Red Cliff I-II, Sue in So Close) as Mui Ng Man-tat (C.I.B. Agent in King of Comedy) as "Golden Leg" Fung Patrick Tse Yin as Hung Wong Yut-fei as Iron Head (First Big Brother) Lam Chi-chung (Bone in Kung Fu Hustle) as Weight Vest (Sixth Small Brother) Tin Kai-man (Brother Sum's adviser in Kung Fu Hustle) as Iron Shirt (Second Big Brother) Mok Mei-lam as Hooking Leg (Third Big Brother) Danny Chan Kwok-kwan (The Legend of Bruce Lee, Brother Sum in Kung Fu Hustle) as Empty Hand (Fourth Big Brother) Li Hui as some chick who slips on a banana peel Cecilia Cheung (Dawn in The Legend of Zu) as Double Handsome Dragons player #1 Karen Mok (Kong Yat-hung in So Close, General Fang in Around the World in 80 Days) as Double Handsome Dragons player #2 Synopsis Twenty years ago, star soccer player "Golden Leg" Fung missed a penalty kick, costing his team the championship and putting his career to an end when an angry mob crippled his legs in the ensuing riot. Since then, he has been looked down by his former rival Hung, who is now the manager of China's top soccer team. Then one day, while walking on the busy streets of Shanghai, Fung meets Sing, a garbage collector who is a disciple of Shaolin. For years, Sing has tried to find a way to market Shaolin kung-fu to the general public - but to no avail. Fung sees no interest in Sing's personal goal, but when he sees Sing's abilities during a fight, they both decide to form a soccer team with Sing's five Shaolin brothers. Using their extraordinary kung-fu skills, the Shaolin soccer team make a mad dash to the championship, where they must face Hung's genetically altered players. Lowdown Hong Kong cinema has some of the biggest names in film history - Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun-Fat to name a few. And then, there's Stephen Chow. Stephen who? Stephen Chow has been in the business for over two decades, starring in and directing an array of box-office hits in Hong Kong and most of Asia. But until now, Chow has yet to make a name for himself in Hollywood. Perhaps when Miramax finally releases Shaolin Soccer - which is the highest-grossing film in Hong Kong cinema history - the American public will finally know who Chow is. At first, you'll dismiss Shaolin Soccer as a cheap kung-fu flick with no plot, there actually is a story on this one. And it doesn't focus on fighting. Instead, it blends action and comedy with the philosophy of Shaolin kung-fu and mixes them into a sports drama. Aside from the washed-out player Fung and the impoverished Sing, you have Mui, an acne-riddled bakery worker who uses Tai-chi to make some uniquely good bread. And then, there are Sing's Shaolin "brothers" - Iron Head (a night club janitor), Iron Shirt (an unsuccessful stock broker), Hooking Leg (a dish washer), Empty Hand (currently unemployed) and Weight Vest (an overweight grocery helper). Though he has a minor role, Empty Hand does a great job impersonating Bruce Lee - from the nose rub gesture to his yellow jump suit (taken from Game of Death). Weight Vest also steals some of the spotlight as the heaviest guy to hang on strings. For its relatively low budget (under US$2 million), Shaolin Soccer has some spectacular effects done by Centro Digital Pictures (Kill Bill vol. 1). Using techniques taken from The Matrix, Forrest Gump, Gladiator and Fight Club, Shaolin Soccer's special effects have you hanging on the edge of your seats - whether it's the bullet-time camera views or the flaming soccer ball that turns into a blazing puma. Overall, Shaolin Soccer is a film you can't miss, whether or not you like martial arts flicks. Many non-Chinese viewers may not get the jokes, but the rest of the film is all laughs. Forget the U.S. release (which has been moved again; this time to March 2004) - get the Hong Kong DVD instead. Rating: A DVD Extras: B+ The DVD features a documentary on the making of Shaolin Soccer, as well as a collection of special effects scenes made by Centro Digital. There are also some scenes not found in the theatrical release, but the DVD won't let you view the director's cut without having to press ENTER when the white icon flashes on the screen. Going back to the main menu is a hassle, as you have to go through the entire intro screen. Audio is in Cantonese or Mandarin (pick Cantonese, as the Mandarin dialogue is not as funny); subtitles are in Chinese (traditional or simplified) or some rather poor English. Despite the horrid grammar, you'll get the idea of the story. Links U333's Official Shaolin Soccer Homepage (Chinese) References The Internet Movie Database Wikipedia