Saturday, August 2, 2014

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kung Fu HustleKung Fu Hustle is among my favorite films, not because I am a die-hard fan of Stephen Chow, but because I really liked the wild mix of comedy, adventure, crime caper and martial arts action. Most notably the excellent fight choreography by legendary Yuen Woo-Ping(who is also responsible for the fight scenes of Kill Bill vol. 1, Fearless, The Matrix, Hero). As I said, I love KUNG FU HUSTLE and am very much looking forward for its sequel in 2008, so forgive me if I am a bit biased. (I will try my best not to lose my objectivity)

The New "AXE KICKING EDITION" soon to be released by Sony is actually the REGION-3 Hong Kong release which I have. (I am certain)The Hong Kong release is still the one to go for if you have a multi-region dvd player. Since I almost know for certain that only fans of the film will be interested in this new edition, I will skip the plot summary. ( for those of you who haven't seen it, you may look up my review under the original U.S. DVD.)

I will go straight to the differences between the previous dvd release and this new "Axe-kicking edition"(original Hong Kong release):

Mild spoilers ahead---

Scene 1; The landlady throws her husband out of a window and drops a flower pot that ended up on the back of his head. The original cut showed a small pool of blood coming from his face, but the U.S. version digitally omitted it. The blood now appears as part of the film.

Scene 2; Sing heckles/insults the residents of Pig Sty Alley and gets hit in the tummy by a woman. The original cut showed Sing spitting up blood which landed on the woman's face, but the earlier U.S. version digitally removed the blood (though some still appeared around Sing's mouth). The blood now appears in this release.

Scene 3; This may be more offensive to others; it takes place on the eve of the big attack on Pig Sty Alley. The Hong Kong cut showed a man taking a d--p onto a piece of paper as the camera panned by, but the American version digitally removed the offensive feces. Now the paper is no longer blank. "Mr. Poo" makes an appearance!

Scene 4; Sing confronts "The Beast" in the casino, he gets hit hard on the chest twice. After the 2nd hit, blood sprays on The Beast's face and Sing is shown reeling backwards from the force of the punch with blood spurting from his mouth. The U.S. version PREVIOUSLY removed both of these sequential shots.

Scene 5; Also in the casino, Sing's head is hit on his face, hammered into the ground by The Beast. After the first hit, The Beast's bloody fist is shown emerging from the floor in slow motion...but the U.S. version removed this shot entirely.

Now for the DVD Picture and Sound quality--

2.35 Anamorphic Widescreen. The Picture is extremely sharp with solid Black levels. Colors are natural and enhancements are not noticeable. CGI effects suffer a bit of softness. But the transfer is clean and nice. It is the Hong Kong transfer from what I can tell.

Sound is in 5.1 Dolby/2.0 surround in English, French & Cantonese. I am a bit disappointed why Sony still didn't include the Cantonese 5.1 DTS track as in the original Hong Kong release. Why?!

EXTRAS: Stephen Chow interview--Bloopers/outtakes--Featurettes: w/ Yuen Woo-Ping, Oliver Wong(Production designer), Shirley Wong(Costumes)

Storyboard comparison--trailers--audio commentary

CLOSING: Kung Fu Hustle is one of the more entertaining (if not the most fun in 2004) imports. It mixes pop culture blends, over-the-top comedy, hard-hitting action while maintaining a profound respect for the spirit of Kung Fu. This new region 1 release is a bit confusing, while it contains the original cut of the film, it misses the original special features and the powerful DTS Cantonese Language track. I wouldn't advise a "double dip" for fans who own the first REGION 1 dvd, but for fans who doesn't own the movie, pick this new version up. However, the lack of DTS sound is a huge minus for this version. I STILL prefer the ORIGINAL Hong Kong region-3 release!


I didn't know what to expect when I went to see "Kung Fu Hustle" in theaters but I'm a big fan of Chinese foreign films and needless to say it exceeded all expectations. It's a mobster movie like you've never seen before set around the 1930s. The Axe Gang wear nice, fancy black suits, and after killing some apparent foes in the beginning of the movie the credits show flashes of the "tough" gangsters doing a strange sort of dance in unison I couldn't help but chuckle at with unparalleled delight. At that point I knew this was going to be an interesting film and I was absolutely right. Legends with inhuman powers arise from the unlikeliest of people, crushing the Axe Gang's superiority and pride of being the "bad-asses" you should fear for your life from. They in turn hire countless assassins to wipe out an entire village but their attempts prove futile as the population contains more than just weak farmers and housekeepers... I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of "Kung Fu Hustle" (think Looney Toons meets Kill Bill) and recommend it to anyone who looks for odd, quirky movies that are also smart and creative, yet totally out there. The subtitles didn't even bother me as I find that most films in Chinese sound much better in the original language verses being horribly dubbed in English (ie-House Of Flying Daggers).

Buy Kung Fu Hustle (2004) Now

Stephen Chow's follow-up to 'Shaolin Soccer' (which was virtually killed in US market) is totally different from 'Shaolin.' 'Kung-hu' is a comedy, sure it is, but the star/director Chow takes this martial arts very seriously, and the film itself gives more emphasis upon martial arts actions (including silly ones) than the parodies or sight gags. And look, the film is credited with TWO choreographers -Sammo Hung and Yuen Wo Ping!

[THE STORY] is set in pre-Revolutiona China. The city is ruled by ruthless mobsters 'Axe Gang,' and now remember, they are really ruthless. Even though they dance like 'Cotton Club'-Meets-'Gangs of New York' style. And of course, they wield axes while dancing in the street.

Then our hero Sing (Chow) enters. He wants to join in the 'Axe Gangs,' and to prove his 'ability' as gangster (whatever it is), he tries to extort money from the locals living in the 'Pig Sty Alley.' What he didn't know was, the people are much, much more strong and resourceful than he expected.

The plot may sound rather pointless, and in fact it is. In short, it is about two wannabe gangsters, and the fights between gangsters and the residents of the 'Alley.' You see several references to other films, but the film's greatest merit is not them. It is kung-hu action.

[ACTIONS] For Stephen Chow shows unexpectedly exciting fight sequences between the unique characters -assassins who use musical instruments like invisible swords (and this scene is very violent), the tailor and cook who fight like devil, the Landlord and Landlady, and The Beast ... yes, he fight like a beast, or a toad (literally).

[THE STAR] Stephen Chow as hero Sing displays considerable martial arts skills, especially in the finaly act which goes like the climax of 'Matrix Revolutions' -and Chow is better than Keanu! -but it is the extraordinary supporting actors that really are rivetting. The hen-pecked landlord by Yuen Wah (known as 'magnificient villain' in Hong Kong films) and his chain-smoking wife landlady by Yuen Qiu (coming back to screen after almost 30 years) are real scene stealer, always surprising us with their outrageous personalities. And wait for 'The Beast' by Leung Siu Lung (himself a major Kung-hu star during the 70s, and comes back to movie after 15 year hietus) whose initial appearance as a bald and plump middle-aged is very deceptive. And look for Yeun Cheung-Yan (as a suspicious-looking seller of 'kung-hu manuals'), brother to Yuen Woo Ping and action choreographer of 'Charlie's Angles.'

The film may not as funny (and silly) as 'Shaolin Soccer' and if so, that's because Stephen Chow really respects the art of kung-hu and its masters. It is still a comedy, and it is often funny, but perhaps you should see it as an action film -with ridiculously exaggerated fight styles based on the traditional kung-hu. So, my advice: Don't think, just feel, and enjoy yourself.

Read Best Reviews of Kung Fu Hustle (2004) Here

Kung Fu Hustle on Blu-ray looks/sounds excellent. I already own the DVD version of Kung Fu Hustle, but watching Kung Fu Hustle on Blu-ray is a vast improvement. With its vibrant colors and incredible sound, Kung Fu Hustle is definitly one of the better Blu-ray releases I have seen so far.

Just like the DVD, the Blu-ray version is also loaded with extras:

-commentary with Stephen Chow, Lam Tze Chung, Tin Kai Man, and Chan Kwok Kwun

-42 minute behind-the-scenes featurette (in Chinese with English subtitles)

-2 deleted scenes

-30 minute candid Ric Meyers interview with Stephen Chow (in English)

-5 minutes of outtakes

-trailers for Resident Evil 2, Underworld 2, and xXx

Want Kung Fu Hustle (2004) Discount?

Fresh from the worldwide triumph of Shaolin Soccer, Stephen Chow surpassed its critical and commercial success with Kung Fu Hustle. He took the winning formula he perfected with his previous film and elevated it to a more ambitious scale. He also wisely decided to have Sony distribute his movie in North America instead of Miramax who notoriously bungled the release of Soccer. The results were a modest success because, unlike Miramax, Sony knew how to market Chow's movie.

As he did with Shaolin Soccer, Chow uses CGI in very clever ways to express his ideas visually. The action sequences play out like live action Looney Tunes cartoons as he playfully pokes fun at over-the-top, pretentious action spectacles like The Matrix: Reloaded. Kung Fu Hustle is bursting at the seams with one hilarious visual gag after another. In one scene, Sing is chased by a grumpy, bossy peasant woman and they chase each other through the countryside like Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Chow understands that the enjoyment in watching his movies is reveling in the visual spectacle of them. His movie has the visual inventiveness of ten movies.

Kung Fu Hustle is a movie about other movies. It playfully quotes from such diverse movies as Spider-Man and The Untouchables. One of the pleasures of watching this movie is to see what film it references next. Meanwhile, Kung Fu Hustle continues to top itself with one breathtaking action sequence after another, each one building up to the penultimate showdown. Chow's movie is so eager to please, such an unabashed celebration of movies that it makes the ones that come out of Hollywood every year look boring and outdated in comparison.

There is an audio commentary by Stephen Chow, actor Lam Tze Chung, Axe Gang advisor Tin Kai Man and actor Chan Kwok Kwan. If you're reading the subtitles of this track it is near impossible to figure out who's talking and so you just have to go along with it in the hopes that some relevant information will appear on screen. They go into detail about the filmmaking process in this informative and engaging track.

"TV Special Behind the Scene of Kung Fu Hustle" is a 42 minute look at how this movie came together hosted by two of the film's stars. This is an entertaining and well-made featurette that is a step up from the usual fare that populates DVDs.

There are two deleted scenes that feature the residents of Pig Sty Alley trying to convince the two kung fu masters to save them and more footage of Sing's initiation into the Axe Gang.

"Ric Meyers Interview with Stephen Chow" is a nice conversation between the two men. He talks about some of the cinematic influences on this movie as he comes across as a very smart and articulate fellow.

Also included is an "Outtakes and Bloopers" reel that is a very funny collection of blown lines.

There is also an impressive collection of 15 TV spots!

Finally, there is an "International Poster Exploration Gallery" that features all sorts of different designs adopting various styles and colour schemes.

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