Culture Magazine

Movie Review – Shaolin Soccer (2001)

By Manofyesterday

Director: Stephen Chow

Stars: Stephen Chow, Wei Zhao, Man Tat Ng, Yin Tse, Yat-Fei Wong, Kai Man Tin, Chi Chung Lam, Kwok-Kwan Chan, Mei Lin Mo

Steel Leg (Chow) is at a loss after his Master has died. He wants to promote Shaolin Kung-Fu but has no money and no way to go about it, that is until he runs into Golden Leg (Man Tat Ng), a cripple who was once a former great football player. When he witnesses the Kung-Fu in action he sees a way to form a new team and take the national tournament by storm, so the two of them go about recruiting Steel Leg’s former brothers.

Shaolin Soccer is completely ludicrous, dumb, hilarious and amazing. You kind of know what film you’re getting yourself in for when the team managed by the bad guy is called ‘Evil Team’. There’s nothing deep or unsubtle about this film and as long as you keep that in mind you’ll be okay. I was laughing hard at some of the preposterous scenes unfolding before my eyes, like the big song and dance number towards the beginning.

It’s really like a live-action cartoon where the unreal becomes understandable and logic gets cast aside in favour of sheer outrageousness. I’m still kind of amazed, even now. The make-over scene is one that completely had me floored.

That said, when a film is this bizarre there are some things which don’t quite work. Not all the jokes landed for me. I didn’t find a man having to wear stained pants on his head funny, and the forced kiss joke veered too closely to a rape joke to be funny, especially as it was repeated for a double impact. Also, now, I’m sure it would have been impossible to use a real ball but I think it would have been cool had the incorporated some real football action.

Should you watch this movie? I think if you want something that’s totally ridiculous then yes. If you get annoyed by bizarre and outrageous things then give this one a miss. I liked it though, and even thinking about some of the things in it makes me chuckle.


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