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少林足球 (2001)
Shaolin Soccer

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 02/28/2007

"Shaolin Soccer" is a joy to look at; the CGI is run-of-the-mill kind of stuff but it never strong-arms this crisply photographed big budget comedy and actor/director Stephen Chow, who's something of a Bruce Lee/Jim Carrey mutation, has clearly honed his skills over the years to create one of the former colony's most crowd-pleasing metaphysical gung fu comedies.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 09/24/2006
Summary: What's more to say?

Decent film, slightly ropey CGI in places but ingeniously implemented. There's some good laughs along the way, too.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 10/09/2005
Summary: The redemptive power of soccer

Having read the review of this movie here and elsewhere, I realized that there was no point in another review telling people that it is an excellent piece of work—many have already done that, many of them more qualified than I. But watching it again recently I realized that there was at least one strong unifying theme that I had missed in past viewings--the idea of redemption or deliverance runs through “Shaolin Soccer”. Each of the three main characters has a crippling flaw that must be overcome. Golden Leg Fung accepted a bribe to miss a key penalty kick—he is now homeless and without prospects, slurping from a can of beer as he wanders the streets of Hong Kong. On a slightly higher social and economic level is Steel Leg Sing who lives picking up cans and other discards and who can’t interest anyone in his plans to teach Shaolin Kung Fu to the masses. Mui has been born with almost disfiguring facial blemishes. She avoids most human contact and uses her outstanding Tai Chi skills only for making sweet buns.

One of the ways this theme is underlined and foregrounded is the film’s score. It sounds like there is a lot of borrowing from successful movie composers such as John Williams, Maurice Jarre, Trevor Jones and even Ennio Morricone, so they decided to appropriate their tunes from the very best. The major key chords that emphasize anything close to a personal crisis (and there are a lot of them) become almost expected, with crescendos from strings and winds constantly highlighting how practically all the characters have to get beyond their current problems and work for the greater good—to look past the present and into what the future could hold for them.

That Steel Leg Sing is the only character who has a real vision of what he wants to accomplish isn’t important. Golden Leg Fung wants money and revenge. Miu want the love of Steel Leg Sing. In each case the character wants something better than he or she has. The motivation for the rest of the Kung Fu brothers isn’t really made clear but it is there. One very obvious example is when Iron Shirt Tin fills in for the injured goalie he places a call to (I think) his wife and children to tell them that he loves them above anything else—with this action he sheds the shackles of his old life, of a driven and constantly busy businessman and embraces the simpler pleasures of soccer and family.

“Shaolin Soccer” shares its theme of the redemptive possibilities available to people with several types of movies that feature emancipation from a present horrible situation by seizing hold of its alternative. There is the redemption of an ordinary guy involved with forces he can’t understand or deal with, such as “A Wonderful Life”; the redemption of a flawed but still attractive character, as in “Groundhog Day” or the redemption of a person who has been dealt a bad hand from the beginning, like “My Left Foot”. Another type, which isn’t part of this movie, is when a villain redeems his life at the very end by an out of character selfless act—a great example of this is “Angels with Dirty Faces”.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/17/2005

Taking a year or two off is not uncommon for Western actors, but in the fast-paced world of Hong Kong movies, a vacation like that can seem like an eternity and spell an end to a performer's career, even if the person involved is Asia's top box office draw. So when Stephen Chow returned from his sabbatical, expectations were high. They were definitely met at the box office -- Shaolin Soccer became the all-time top-grossing domestically-produced film in Hong Kong movie history. But how is the movie itself? Thankfully, Chow hasn't lost a step. While not quite as strong as some of his earlier works, Shaolin Soccer is still a very entertaining movie that should please his fans, and perhaps win over some new ones.

The story is basically the same as many of Chow's other movies -- he plays a talented martial artist who can't find work until he is discovered by soccer coach Ng Man-Tat, who convinces Chow that by combining kung fu with soccer, they can both benefit. Chow will be able to fufill his dream of spreading the word about "true" kung fu, and Ng will be able to avenge a crippling loss from an old rival (Patrick Tse). However, unlike Chow's earlier movies, he is not so arrogant.

There has been a movement over Stephen Chow's last few films to soften his on-screen persona, and Shaolin Soccer continues that trend. Perhaps this is in reaction to Chow's -- once known as one of Hong Kong's biggest playboys -- own slowing down. At any rate, this has resulted in movies that concentrate not so much on potty humor, but that are more focused on story and "true" romance. Chow's romantic interest this time out is played by Vicky Zhao, who, like many of Chow's other love interests, has a physical problem (a disfigured face), but not so much time is spent on this -- it is definitely not a focal point of the movie, like Karen Mok in God of Cookery. Even though not as much time is spent on their relationship as in Chow's other movies, the love story seems to ring a bit truer because Chow seems more sincere.

So the story in Shaolin Soccer is handled well, but what about the comedy? It's not as over the top as Chow's usual "moy len tau" style, but it's still plenty goofy. Things like an impromtu song-and-dance number, Chow and Ng staging a Shaolin nightclub act, cameos by Cecilia Cheung and Karen Mok in drag, and some mandatory (for Stephen Chow) toilet humor and pop culture references await the viewer here. To this reviewer, the comedy was very funny. Even though my Cantonese is worse than Michael Wong's and I was lost in parts, Stephen Chow's likeable personality and rubber face (as well as some help from a strong supporting cast) carried the film thorugh the rocky bits, and made the good ones that much more enjoyable.

Of course, this being a soccer movie, plenty of time is dedicated to showing the sport, and these sequences are great fun as well, thanks to some inventive use of CGI that shows how kung fu can turn a soccer match into a martial arts brawl. Overall, even though Shaolin Soccer is "toned down" a bit from Stephen Chow's previous works, this kind of thing (soccer balls being turned into fireballs while a Bruce Lee clone blocks the shot) probably won't appeal to the average viewer -- at least at first blush. Like these scenes, Stephen Chow as a whole is an acquired taste -- much like a good stew, it takes a few bites to appreciate all the flavors -- but for those wanting to check out another side of Hong Kong movies besides fists of fury or dual pistol action, Shaolin Soccer is an excellent entry into the "nonsense comedy" genre which only Hong Kong (and Stephen Chow in particular) can do so well.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 09/08/2005
Summary: One of the best comedies...

In the annual China Cup soccer tournament, there is one clear favorite. The
Evil Team, run by Hung (Yin Tse) a former player who cheated and scammed his
way to the top, has the best players and the all the behind-the-scenes
connections to make sure they win the tournament hands down. Many years ago,
one of the best players in the league, Golden Leg Fung (Man Tat Ng) accepted
money from Hung and intentionally lost the game on a penalty kick. The enraged
fans rushed the field and attacked Golden Leg, breaking his limbs and ruining
his career forever. Years later, after being fired as an assistant from the
Evil Team, he happens upon Sing (Stephen Chow), a former Shaolin student who is
determined to teach Kung Fu to the masses. Fung sees the soccer potential in
Sing and his Iron Leg technique, and decides that forming a team for the
tournament will be the perfect vehicle to help Sing show the people the power
of Shaolin Kung Fu. Sing goes and rounds up his former classmates from the
temple, each who have a special fighting technique that translates into a skill
in soccer. Once the team is formed, they enter the tournament, setting up for a
final showdown with Hung and his Evil Team.

Shaolin Soccer is one of the most surprising and enjoyable Hong Kong films I ve
seen in quite awhile. All of the performances, especially Stephen Chow s, are
fantastic, and allow the viewer to get completely wrapped up in the story and
genuinely care about how the team does in the tournament. Each of the Shaolin
players showcase a special technique, such as Hook Leg and Formless Hand, and
it s hilarious to see how they incorporate them into the game. Although the
special effects are somewhat raw, they add to the tongue-in-cheek feel of the
story and don t detract at all from the film.
Shaolin Soccer was the highest grossing film in Hong Kong for 2001, and
bolstered by this, Miramax has decided to release Shaolin Soccer in the states
this summer. Unfortunately, there will be some scenes edited out and the
soundtrack redone, so if you can grab a copy of the Hong Kong released DVD, now
is the time to get it. A movie that can be watched and enjoyed multiple times,
Shaolin Soccer should be at the top of your list of films to see.


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: SteelwireMantis
Date: 07/10/2003
Summary: A Great Stephen Chow Movie!!!!

I was down my friends house a few years back when he had ordered Shaolin Soccer and a few other HK movies on DVD. I saw this movie and I was well-impressed! The story had a very good background to it, the characters were all interesting and above all the comedy is excellent!! (So is the action) Too bad Miramax has bought the rights for such a HK gem.


Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: xiaoka
Date: 03/30/2003
Summary: I've seen the US version...

I saw a preview screening of the US version of this film last week. -- It had been like a year since I watched the HK version(s) so the jokes were relatively fresh this time around. The dubbing wasn't TOO bad, Stephen Chow does his own voice! I was surprised, his english is pretty decent. The other voices could have been better, but not any worse then other HK to US dubbing jobs (Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop, Black Mask, etc). A big question in my mind was how would they edit the film to cater to US audiences. The answer is... kind of strangely... it seemed like they wanted to cut the running time shorter, so they took out a LOT of little bits and pieces, and yet they did include some stuff off the HK 'special DVD version' (the Michael Jackson dance sequence in the beginning for example). They did leave a lot of the odd-ball type humor in though (good!) and didn't butcher the martial arts references (even better!) -- I think if you haven't seen the HK version you'll definitely like the US version, and if you don't compare the two versions side-by-side, then you'll like it on its own. My biggest criticism is the fact that they included "Kungfu fighting" by Carl Douglas over the closing credits... so cliched!!!!

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 03/07/2003

More than a comedy movie, a movie with a heart and soul - and some of the funniest scenes you're likely to see.

But... "Kung Fu Soccer"?

The one thing it is *not* is a kung-fu movie. "Shaolin Soccer" was the perfect title for the movie - a movie that has already found a lot of success through word of mouth in the west. I know dozens of people who normally wouldn't watch a HK movie but love this one.

I'm interested to see just what else Miramax is going to screw up when they bring it over to the US.

Miramax, if you're listening, **stop messing with movies that are perfect as they are!**. I really wish there would be a law passed to stop companies like Miramax and Dimension treating Hong Kong movies as they do. Hopefully the online petition for the respectful treatment of Hong Kong movies by these Disney subsidiaries will show them how strongly people care.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: kurama_tengu
Date: 06/16/2002
Summary: Bad News Bears Meets The Venoms...A Riot!!!

This is the first Stephen Chow film that I have seen. If "Shaolin Soccer" is a sign of what I have to expect from Chow's other films, then I will have to get them all. "Shaolin Soccer" combines top-notch special effects, humor, and Shaolin kung-fu with off all things....soccer, to create a wonderful viewing experience.

I could go into detail with the plot, but it has been done already by previous reviewers. What I would like to say is that Chow has successfully combined what would be thought of as two completely different subject matters, Shaolin kung-fu and soccer, and created a film that is enjoyable on all facets. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this laugh-filled film. I watched this with two friends who aren't HK film junkies like myself, and they were laughing themselves to tears.

The cast is wonderful, and although there is not much character development with each of them, enough is told to where their place in the film is understood. I particularly enjoyed the other Shaolin brothers, as each had a certain skill taught to them, much like the fighters in "The Five Venoms". When you see how they use their skills in a soccer game, you will be amazed.

The computer-generated special effects are top-rate. Chow stated in the documentary that 50% of the film's budget went into the special effects. The end results are worth every penny. Some have said that they are out of place in this setting, but I believe they are needed to add to the mystique of the brothers' Shaolin skills.

This film is great and I would recommend it to anyone. As stated earlier, non-HK film enthusiasts should enjoy it also. If you can, buy this DVD! The behind the scene extras, which I watch before every movie, made me want to watch it even more. [10/10]

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: resdog781
Date: 06/03/2002
Summary: Like Remember The Titans....but with Shaolin monks. And funny.

I don't remember a Stephen Chow movie where I've laughed this hard since....jesus. Probably "God Of Cookery."

But this isn't the "cocky mofo who gets humbled halfway through the movie" Stephen Chow I was used to seeing. This one is more like the "clearly dimwitted but charming and honestly well meaning" Stephen Chow, which is almost as fun to watch.

Chow plays a "post-graduate student" (read: TRASH COLLECTOR) of the Shaolin Temple looking for a way to spread the good word and convince people to start learning kung fu.

Ng Man Tat pulls in a fairly good and sympathetic performance as Golden Leg, a crippled ex soccer star who's looking for one last shot at glory, and revenge against Patrick Tse, who set up the "accident" that left Ng a cripple.

The two sad sacks meet up and suddenly, light bulbs go off: SHAOLIN KUNG FU + SOCCER = GREAT PROMOTION FOR SHAOLIN KUNG FU! Chow rounds up his old Shaolin brothers, and Ng coaches them to victory. But not without the prerequisite hilarity that comes from a bunch of ragtag aging/balding/fat guys learning to play soccer.

Patrick Tse just reminded me of Shih Kien from "Enter The Dragon" for some reason. He just walks into the room with the biggest sneer and swagger that you could tell he was the bad guy without a word of dialogue from the guy.

Vicky Zhao was a little wooden as Mui, and I could've done without the fact that they kept making her ugly as hell. But even with the acne makeup, you could tell that she's a cutie.

The Shaolin brothers were funny, if not completely developed as actual characters...the best one (as everybody already said) was the goalie who inexplicably became a dead ringer for Bruce Lee halfway through the movie. Right down to the "wiping the nose with the thumb" routine that Siu Lung did back in the day. :D Second best was the "Hooking Leg" one, who did kung-fu pommel-horse routines one the field. That was pretty badass.

And of course, the usual HK slang humor came into play, best one being Chow's "rap" at the end of the shaolin lounge singing performance :D I just HAD to rewind that after I saw it. Added bonus: That dude who dresses like a chick and is always picking his nose makes yet another appearance in this movie. Why the hell does Chow insist on having this guy in every movie...he's just so damn disturbing on so many different levels....

There were a few parodies I spotted, the most obvious ones being the "Thriller" dance sequence and the much more contrived "Saving Private Ryan" jab, complete with bullets whizzing by. And I'm sure they took the "soccer ball turning into a fireball" thing from NBA Jam or something...But I doubt it.

The only gripe I had with this movie was, as I expressed before, the lack of cockiness of Chow's character; strike that, the almost complete lack of ill-mannered, mean-spirited humor that was prevalent in movies like "God Of Cookery". This movie was almost....heartwarming.

But after seeing the piece of shit that was "Thirteen Ghosts" right before I saw this one, "heartwarming comedy" is a relief. Thumbs up.

Stay for the outtakes too....Why didn't the Stockbroker's cell phone call make it into the final cut?!? :D

Reviewed by: Dyogenez
Date: 05/06/2002
Summary: One of the best

Who would've thought that a movie about a group a shaolin kung fu artists playing soccer could be so amazing. As a comedy, a kung fu film and a sports film it prevails. Stephen Chow plays a Shaolin martial artist who must get the word out about his artform. Chow breaks into song on more than one occasion as well. The soccer fight scene (that the DVD title screen breaks into), was one of funniest fight scenes in memory. Using the soccer ball to do his blows instead of by hands is a concept I don't rememeber ever seeing in any movie. There are many other innovations that make this movie stand out as well. This movie is definetely a must see as HK movies go. 10/10

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 04/13/2002
Summary: Great stuff

Chronologically, this is the best movie since Storm Riders. I am glad Stephen Chow finally did something great again after years of crap. In my opinion, any movie that captures your attention and makes you wonder the outcome is a good one. The movie is great fun and very uplifting, but most importantly unlike other Chow movies, it's more of a drama than comedy. However, at times the movie just gets TOO WEIRD... like when Chow and his brothers were being beaten/tested by the gansters, suddenly Stephen Chow is in war and he is crawling through gunshots and cannon fire. That was just too much for me. But still it was great fun. There are some very funny spots, but at the same time some of the humor are plain lame and really just make you wonder if Chow has lost his ability to make ppl laugh. Zhao Wei was barely in the movie, but her presence was great. I don't see any point in having her head shaved at the end though, and there wasn't enough time spent between her and Stephen Chow. BTW, I never realized Stephen Chow had such a resemblence to Bruce Lee, but Mr. Chow is so reminiscient of Mr. Lee here. There's also another guy in the film who almost looks identical to Bruce Lee.

The idea of a Shaolin Soccer team was nothing new, but it was still hilarious to see all the special effects, and I almost couldn't ask for a better result.


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Ryoga
Date: 12/23/2001

Stephen Chow is just hilarious! I couldn't stop laughing all the way through! Stephen Chow is a martial artist from Shaolin that is promoting kung fu and ends up doing that by creating a soccer team thanks to Ng Man Tat. The special effects are awesome! The soccer ball turning into a flame that looks like a panther (I think?) You can find this film at http://www.pokerindustries.com. There isn't any hand to hand fights by the way.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 12/21/2001
Summary: Not great

This movie is not too bad here and there, it is quite funny at times, but I think the special effects were unecessary, and sometimes were just pointless. Most of the 'comedy' and story was actually very stupid.

Stephen Chow is past his prime I think, and although this is better than his last few movies, it still comes nothing near as good as his early 90's movies. Might be Worth watching, but I wouldn't rush back to see this again.

Rating: 2/5

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: Subwaybum
Date: 12/17/2001

Even non-asian people could like this film, like my little brother's friend.

Reviewed by: AV1979
Date: 12/07/2001
Summary: Chow + Soccer = WINNER!!!!!

This is without a doubt the best film Stephen Chow has come out with since 1996's GOD OF COOKERY (which is now rumored to be a sequel in the works).

The supporting cast, led by the very beautiful Vicky Zhao and Chow's partner in crime Ng Man Tat are nothing short of amazing.

Chow is Sing, a young kung fu master who wants to bring Shaolin kung fu in the mainstream. After some failed attempts, he learns that soccer is the way to do. After gathering his Shaolin brothers, they for a team under the coaching of Fung (Ng). Meanwhile, Sing falls for a disfigured yet sympatethic tai chi expert (Zhao) who makes the best sweet bread.

Patrick Tse (Nicholas Tse's father and verteran actor) is the evil Hung, who will stop the Shaolin Team from winning the championship no matter what it takes.

Cecelia Cheung and Karen Mok make cameos as MALE?! Soccer Players!!! Funny and must be seen!!

In fact, this movie is a must see for soccer fans, kung fu fans, Stephen Chow fans...hell, everyone should see this film.

U.S. Release date - April 5, 2002 (for the fans in the USA) and yes, it will be on the big screens.

Reviewed by: reelcool
Date: 11/20/2001
Summary: Crazy, Funny Movie

However you spell his name, Stephen Chao, Steven Chow, etc... his movies are all the same - CRAZY and FUNNY! The insanity, and stupidity of it all is the focus of "Shaolin Soccer". Yes, it's a very funny movie, but after a while it gets boring, because it's too stupid, lacks a story, and there's no "pay off" at the end, but overall it's fun to watch.

Reviewed by: ksbutterbox
Date: 10/31/2001
Summary: Possible Breakthrough for Mr. Chow!

I have a non subtitled version of this movie and absolutely love it! Friends of mine are blown away at the sheer outrageousness of this movie! Like all of his best films..this has a strong female lead..similiar to previous Chow films..ie., God of Cookery ala Sister Turkey(Karen Mok). It's so fun and kinetic to watch repeatedly. I hope this movie breaks through for him to an even wider international following. Great Flick!

Reviewed by: zarrsadus
Date: 10/24/2001
Summary: Genius

This is one of the best movies I've ever seen, and I must have watched it at least 8 times and still not gotten bored of it. Everyone I've shown this film to, whether they like HK films or not, loved seeing Shaolin Soccer. Two big thumbs up for one of Stephen Chow's greatest comedies, simply hilarious.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 10/17/2001
Summary: VEry good

A won't say much since there are plenty of reviews but this is REALLY funny!!
Stephen Chow at his best once more!! It was worth the wait!! I haven't laughed so much and so loud in a long time!!


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: sushi_x
Date: 09/28/2001
Summary: Funniest Chinese Movie I Can Remember.....

I have to say this is one of the best, if not the best, of Stephen Chow's films. In reply to 'rolandyu', I'm a soccer fan too but still found this movie extremely funny. You're right that some scenes look unnatural but that's the whole point...I mean it's a comedy, it doesn't have to be like the real thing. This special effects kick ass to the max man! This movie wouldn't be 'Shaolin Soccer' without the special effects...not everyone can do what Shaolin monks do you know. I found 'Tricky Master 2000' heaps funny but this was even better man! I give this film 10/10 and recommend it to anyone who loves Stephen Chow or just simply a good laugh. Enjoy!

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: rolandyu
Date: 09/23/2001
Summary: hmmm.....

Well, I dunno, but I don't think this movie is that funny. In fact, I find it a bit boring and the story and the special effects are too forced, so it comes out unnatural. Surely, this movie is not as funny as I expected. Most of you guys might not agree with me though.

Why? You would ask. I've asked myself that also.

I came out with a couple of answers.

1. Maybe I've watched too many "real" and "quality" soccer matches and games, because I am a soccer fans. So, when I watch this movie and how Stephen Chiau parodized the moves and games, I find it a bit uncool and not funny.

2. I think the special effects in this movie is pretty low quality. I mean like, you can tell that they are not real. I really prefer a normal comedies without such special effects. It really ruined it for me.

3. I do not understand Cantonese and by reading subtitles, might affect my understanding of the movie. Although I laughed my guts out with other Stephen Chiau's movies.

After talking all of that, I still find some funny scenes and jokes that make me laugh. Still, my favorite of Stephen Chiau's comedy is "From Beijing With Love".

Reviewed by: senordingdong
Date: 09/23/2001
Summary: One of Stephen Chow's greatest movies!

I laughed through the whole movie. Have you ever played the game Tecmo Soccer on NES (Nintendo Entertainment System)? If you have, then you'll enjoy this movie even more. The special effects are standard Hong Kong quality, which to say is lower than most Holywood movies, but about the same as a low budget tv movie's. This however adds to the comedic effect. The director uses overly dramatic camera work which hightens the comedy even further. The only low part in this movie I find is seeing that guy dressed as a girl picking his nose. Chow should really stop putting that guy into his movies. How many times do I need to see that?


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 08/24/2001
Summary: Chow Scores

Even if Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li and Jackie Chan were still in Hong Kong, they'd be trounced by Stephen Chow. Stephen Chow is still the box office champ in Hong Kong. He makes people laugh. He isn't affraid to laugh at himself or take things too seriously. This approach seems to work with audiences that take in his films. "Shaolin Soccer" is a whirlwind of fun that lampoons the myths of Shaolin monks and Shaolin kung fu to entertain, using the latest CGI techniques. Although the CG is quite cheesy, it works because it is used to enhance and further the film's story as opposed to being the only reason to watch the film. The effects convey the idea that this isn't reality but something out of this world: Asian mythology turning Shaolin Temple's legendary history on its ear for amusement's sake.

The plot concerns Ng Man Tat's discovery of Chow and his Shaolin kung fu skills. Ng recruits Chow and his Shaolin brothers to compete in a soccer tournament that pits the Shaolin squad against Ng's arch nemesis' team.

What makes "Shaolin Soccer" such a hoot and thrill ride is the cartoonish manner in which Chow presents the story. Watching "Shaolin Soccer" is much like viewing a Bugs Bunny or Roadrunner and Coyote cartoon. The action is visually appealing because it is so outrageous and bigger-than-life. This movie is also Chow's most family-oriented feature. There is an intentional lack of toilet and lowbrow humour. The scene of Cecilia Cheung and Karen Mok as dreadlocked, Rasta-like soccer players was quite funny.

"Shaolin Soccer" is a sheer delight to watch. Let's see how long Chow stays in Hong Kong before the dollar signs of Hollywood beckon.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Paul Fox
Date: 08/18/2001
Summary: Shaolin Soccer Scores A Goal.

The "summer blockbuster" season was originally a phenomena which started in the United States around the mid 1970s. This summer fever, like so many other US exports, has caught on in other film markets as well and Hong Kong is no exception. Thus the first big release of the 2001 season comes from Stephen Chow in the form of Shaolin Soccer.

The story and plot are the simple revenge format formula. Ng Man Tat plays the ex soccer champ who was betrayed by his teammate. Now a cripple, he longs to return to the field as a coach. Stephen Chow plays a garbage collector who has a long history of training in Shaolin Iron Leg technique. The rest is highly predictable but highly entertaining, with lots of gags from both the sport of soccer and the discipline of kung-fu.

Performances are great all around with Chow in top form dating back to his earlier days on films like Fist of Fury 1991. Vicky Zhao as the Tai Chi practicing bun maker is a riot and there are plenty of cameos including a quick stint by Karen Mok and Cecelia Chung as opposing soccer team members.

While the film's visuals are likely to draw the most attention, the writing is also clever and witty. As with many Stephen Chow films the dialogue is fast and often contains many "inside" jokes based on Cantonese that don't totally translate over into subtitles. But this is one film that even the soccer hating American audience can enjoy with lots of CG effects and occasional Bruce Lee parodies.

If the film does score a foul at all it is with the antagonist and his "evil" soccer team. Stereotypically cardboard in their portrayal, the so called team is boosted by drugs which make them powerful rivals for our heroes. And while tradition versus technology has dated back in the martial world to before the Boxer Rebellion, the face off here seems a bit ridiculous and takes away from some of the shaolin mystique. By games end however, Shaolin Soccer proves itself to be far more exciting than any World Cup championship game.

Overall review rating - 4.5 (out of 5)

Review by Paul Fox

Location: Fanling Town Center Cinema

Time: Wednesday 15 August 4:05pm

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: informer
Date: 08/04/2001
Summary: Highly Entertaining

With two years in the making, the highly anticipated Shaolin Soccer doesn't disappoint the audience. While the comedy in it are nothing new, they are so frequent in the movie that there is a never dull moment while watching the film. The special effects in the movie enhances what is already a comic approach to the idea of using Shaolin Kung-Fu with soccer. It is apparant that Chow put a lot of effort in collaborating the jokes in the movie. Viewers would find the romantic plotline with Vicki Zhao unsurprisingly thin but those who watched the uncut version (the extra 10 minutes footage) would be more satisfied because they cut out some scenes between Vicki and Stephen that would make their relationship more touching. The uncut version also features more of Vicki's fighting skills in hilarous borrowed scenes from "Crouching Tigers, Hidden Dragon" where we see her imitating Zhang ZiYi in a fighting scene. An added bonus to this version also includes the NG scenes during the end credits. While Shaolin Soccer is not Chow's best work, it is undoubtely creative and won't be a disappointment even to non-Chow's fans.

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 07/06/2001
Summary: In many ways, Stephen Chow's best film.

Shaolin Soccer marks the end of two long waits: the first, for a new Stephen Chow movie, and the second, and more important, the wait for a really big, really mind-blowing Hong Kong movie. Although the comedy in Shaolin Soccer is nothing groundbreaking, it's often quite funny, and contains relatively few gags too language or culture-specific for foreigners. But what really makes SS something special is the special effects, which, finally, are combined with Hong Kong's filmmakers' unparalleled aptitude for physical action. Once the film cuts loose with its ceaseless series of soccer matches in the second half, you won't know whether to laugh, gasp, or both. Although the film perhaps stretches itself a bit thin with the inclusion of a romantic subplot, it doesn't slow the pace much or harm the film particularly. This is the first film in a long time that not only was not disappointing, but completely exceeded my expectations. Although some of the local audience may end up disappointed by the low level of language-based "mo lei tau" gags, I expect this film will come near the top of the lists of many of Chow's overseas fans.