Kung Fu Hustle

If Sin City was the most convincing live action portrayal of a comic book I’ve seen, then Kung Fu Hustle is the best live action portrayal of a cartoon. It’s Looney Tunes come to life. I can’t remember the last time I laughed this hard during a movie. Maybe it was the first time I saw the toast scene in the original La Cage Aux Folles. Kung Fu Hustle is an entire movie of toast scenes.

Kung Fu Hustle pulls scenes from all genres and recreates them with energy and a real sense of fun. My favorite is a chase scene that’s pure Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote. Or maybe it’s the scene right before that; the scene that leads up to the chase. I watched it and my jaw dropped. I could not believe what I was seeing on the screen.

The movie is filled with homage (parody?): “He’s the One.” and “With great power comes great responsibility.” One scene even mirrors the Matrix 2 where Neo fights hundreds of Agent Smiths. Both were choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, but when you watch this version you don’t think of it as a retread as much as you think, “This is how they should have done it in the first place.” If you want your fight scenes to be over the top, don’t be afraid to go over the top. Kung Fu Hustle does the scene with verve and exuberance and with none ponderous self-importance that ruined The Matrix. In comparison Sin City seems static and flat. Even with all its action, I remember Sin Cityin still frame, frozen in its a comic book origins. Kung Fu Hustle isn’t afraid to show that movies move; it’s in constant hyperdrive.

I’m not going to describe the plot because it is completely irrelevant. It provides the elements for an action movie: gangs of bad guys terrorizing poor townfolk and a few good guys coming to the rescue. The joy of this movie is in the how, not in the what.

Kung Fu Hustle is rated R for stylized violence and it is a very violent movie. But it’s so different in tone from Sin City, that it’s hard to believe that they have the same rating. Not for the kiddies. But definitely enjoyed by video-gaming teenagers.

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