Saturday, February 25, 2012

Adventures on Netflix--Shaolin Soccer

I’m always checking Netflix for a new family night movie.  My kids already know that I am going to try to find something off the beaten path (“culture” as we say), and last night I stumbled across a film from 2001 made by one of my favorite actors from Hong Kong, Stephen Chow.
The film….Shaolin Soccer.
A lot of folks will dismiss the movie simply because of its title, but if you take a few moments to research the movie (Metacritic, Rotten tomatoes, Wikipedia), you will learn that this is a hidden gem in the sea of Netflix mediocrity.    
(Relatively spoiler free movie discussion)
Stephen Chow plays Sing, a Kung Fu master down on his luck who is trying to figure out how to honor his deceased master and spread Kung Fu to the world.  As you can guess, he is very unsuccessful until he meets an old man named Golden Leg.  Golden Leg was a former soccer star now with a bum leg whose life was ruined when he threw a championship soccer game as a younger man.  One of his teammates named Hung was the true mastermind behind this and had Golden Leg’s leg broken so that he could never play soccer again.  Hung became the best soccer player in Hong Kong and is now an evil business man and owner of Team Evil, the best soccer team in the country.
Golden Leg convinces Sing to apply his Kung Fu skills to the game of soccer, but Sing needs a team.  He seeks out his brothers from the Shaolin temple to join him.  Each of them have forsaken their Kung Fu training and are living a miserable existence in society, never fulfilling their potential.  All of them have lost their confidence.  While trying to reunite his brothers, Sing meets Mui, a shy, awkward young woman with severe acne, who makes delicious mantou by using T’ai Chi to prepare the dough.  Like Sing’s brothers, Mui has never reached her full potential and truly embraced Kung Fu as the center of her life. 
Without spoiling the plot too much, Sing and his brothers (Iron Head, Hooking Leg, Iron Shirt, Empty Hand, Mighty Steel Leg, and Light Weight) eventually form Team Shaolin and enter the Golden Cup Tournament.  Their skills and honor will be put to the test as they progress through the tournament and face Team Evil.   Redemption will be found, sacrifices will be made, and true love will be realized.
To summarize:
Special effects...check.
Occasional bad English translation...check.
Awesome Kung Fu...check.
Fun for the whole family...check.
This movie starts a little slow as the characters are introduced but is well worth the wait as you progress to the soccer scenes.  I wish all sports movies could be as exciting and fun as this one.
My kids laughed and cheered throughout the movie.  There’s good reason for this.  The movie is great.  For many years it was the highest grossing movie in Hong Kong, until it was surpassed by another Stephen Chow movie. 
If you haven’t ever seen a Stephen Chow movie, then I am sorry.  You are missing out.  Watch Shaolin Soccer.  Then go track down Kung Fu Hustle.  You won’t be disappointed.

1 comment:

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