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Kung Fu Dunk

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 05/24/2008
Summary: rhyming 'tofu' and 'kung fu'...

abandoned by a basketball court as a baby and subsequently being raised by monks, who school him in martial arts, fang shijie (jay chou), finds himself out on his ear after getting into a fight in a nightclub, owned by a local gangster, bi tianbao (lee li-chun). shijie is taken under the wing of zhen li (eric tsang), a down on his luck chancer who sees this talented young man as a potential cash cow. after a bit of thought and the pulling of strings, li decides that shinjie has the potential to be an unprecedented success in the world of basketball and manages to get him into the team at first university.

with a raw, natural, talent and incredible kung fu skills, shinjie is slowly accepted by the team by its hard drinking captain, ding-wei (wilson chen), and his sister, lily (charlene choi), who shinjie has a crush on. built up in the press as 'the basketball orphan', will shinjie be able to focus his talents for the benefit of the team, will li remain incorruptible, will lily fall for him and will the team be able to overcome the team that is owned by bi tianbao in the university basketball championship?

let's get this out of the way: i really like jay chou. i can't say i'm a huge fan of his music, but he seems like a decent enough young man, is most certainly talented, and somehow manages to maintain an air of cool, despite some of the ridiculous costumes he seems to wear during his live shows. he didn't really look out of his depth, when placed between chow yun-fat and gong li in 'the curse of the golden flower' and i've heard plenty of positive things about 'secret' (which he also directed) as well. here, he manages to transfer his likeability to shinjie, making him believably naive, yet confident; he also seems to have reasonable comic timing, when required, and looks good when fighting or flying through the air in the ching sui-tung choreographed fight and basketball sequences.

it is these sequences, along with chou and, of course, eric tsang, that make this film so much fun to watch. the initial fight in the nightclub is very watchable, but the wire (and cgi) assisted basketball games are great. if only basketball was really this exciting to watch, i'd be at games every week. backing up chou and tsang are a variety of others who put in some good work, although i'll single out charlene choi, who is super-cute, especially when sporting a hoodie and glasses...

the story itself, based on the manga / anime 'slam dunk', is a little bit of a 'shaolin soccer' clone and is slightly uneven at times, but has all the hallmarks of a classic sporting underdog film; a genre which i always kind of enjoy and, with the fun and spectacle involved, i'm willing to forgive it any short-comings.

good stuff...

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 04/27/2008
Summary: Boring

This fluff movie is BORING!!
Nothing much happens,
a story thats been done many times before,
The supporting cast do barely anything and is wasted,
The fight scene in the bar, Jay chou just swings his arms around and everyone goes flying,
Is over the top silly but is not funny,
Jay chou acting range in this movie remind me of Leon Lai,
For a basketball fan myself, there is little here to keep u entertained about from a few harlem globetrotter style plays
But this isnt enough to entertain,
Have low expectations for this movie and maybe you might find this a average movie

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 04/23/2008

Kung Fu Dunk made a decent amount of money at the box office during last Lunar New Year, which is a bit puzzling, since it seems to use a whole bunch of moves from the "how to screw up a Lunar New Year release" playbook, including:

* Base your movie on an existing property (in this case, a manga called Slam Dunk) and then totally ignore everything that made the original source successful in the first place.

* Feature copious amounts of extremely obvious product placement. Here, we get Pepsi cola, Motorola phones, and Absolut vodka... in a movie where one of the main characters is an alcoholic. Smooth move there.

* Have a soundtrack that consists of stock music and the latest singles from the movie's stars, and present ample opportunity to use them via musical montages to pad out the running time. Bonus points here for the songs having insightful lyrics like "You're like tofu/TOFU!/I'll beat you with my kung fu/KUNG FU!"

* Mine half of your cast from veterans looking for a quick paycheck, with the other half being pop stars looking to promote their latest album. Make sure to do a half-ass job directing them so it looks like no one gives a shit about the production.

* Totally ignore the romance between the two young leads, and emphasize the creepy relationship between the male lead and his much older male co-star. Serious, Eric Tsang looking dreamily into Jay Chou's eyes whilst lil' Jay sheds a tear is one of the most unsettling images I've ever experienced in Hong Kong cinema.

* Make a movie about kung fu and basketball that doesn't really feature much of either, and when it is on-screen, totally ignore any rules or sense about it. Yet more bonus points are earned here by wasting the talents of one of the world's best action directors.

* When in doubt, use CGI. Lots of CGI.

In case you don't get the point by now, Kung Fu Dunk is a terrible movie, which should come as no surprise, seeing as it comes from the "genius" of Chu Yen-Ping, who tries to bamboozle potential viewers by being credited as Kevin Chu. Chu's "best" movie is Fantasy Mission Force, which features Jackie Chan running around chasing chickens while being attacked by Amazons, and this entry somehow manages to be worse.

Kung Fu Dunk is the kind of loud, annoying, and nonsensical film that give Hong Kong's output a bad name, and should be avoided by everybody other than aficinados of sub-par cinema.

[review from]

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 02/08/2008
Summary: Slick crowd-pleaser

Jay Chou plays an orphan raised in a kung fu school, but kicked out by the corrupt headmaster after fighting with a bunch of thugs in the employ of a nefarious villain. He happens upon down-on-his-luck trickster Eric Tsang, who immediately sees cash potential in the youngster's skills. Basketball is the chosen avenue for riches, and Tsang bids to get him a spot on a University team and to promote him in the media. General success leads to a basketball championship and a really nasty rival team managed by the same nefarious villain of before.

It's all a bit Shaolin Soccer I guess, but not so quirky or ridiculous - the plot sticks pretty close to sports movie conventions, and delivers all the elements the crowd expects from the set-up. You've seen it all before, but it's the kind of stuff it never hurts to see again when it's done well. Luckily it really is done well here (some might say 'surprisingly' with Chu Yen-Ping in the director's chair... I expect he had good 'assistants') - the script delivers and the presentation is slick and stylish. Jay Chou remains pretty much expressionless throughout, but such is his style, and when he does let an emotion flicker across it can be to quite good comic effect. Eric Tsang compensates with a larger-than-life character that he's played many times before (in real life, for instance) who gets many of the films most emotional moments.

Since the film revolves around basketball, it's good that the scenes of basketball matches are suitably rousing. The cast show some real skill, including Chou, and some well done wirework and CGI add that element of hyper-real kung fu skill that make the scenes even more entertaining (assuming you like that sort of thing) and justify the movie's plot/existence.

There's only one significant fight scene in the movie, but it's a doozy in the "one against many" style. Jay Chou appears to do a lot of his own moves, and is quite impressive - he's clearly pretty strong and fast for real, and Ching Siu-Tung's choreography makes him look like a real martial artist. I wish there'd been more, but at least it's a lengthy fight.

Very much the kind of Chinese New Year blockbuster I hoped it would be from the trailer, and recommended viewing!

Reviewer Score: 8