Starring: Stephen Chow, Man Tat Ng, Zhao Wei, and Yin Tse
Director: Stephen Chow
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars
A soccer coach (Ng) seeking revenge on the rival who ruined his career (Tse), and a martial arts student wanting to revive public interest in Kung Fu (Chow) join forces to create a team that consisting of misfits and martial artists. The sport of soccer will never be the same!
"Shaolin Soccer" is a wild comedy that takes the standard elements of traditional martial arts movies and legends and the standard elements of sports movies and combines them in hilarious and unexpected ways. Toss in lots of clever CGI, and you've got one of the funniest movies ever released.
From the main characters meet, you'll be watching this film with a smile on your face. That smile will get broader when the sweetbun-making Kung Fu master and love interest played by Zhao Wei is introduced into the story. You'll be laughing out loud over the goalie who's a spitting image of Bruce Lee, you'll giggle at the bizarre all-women soccer team Team Mustache (led in hilarious fashion by Karen Mok), and you'll try to cheer on Team Shoalin Soccer as they take on Team Evil for the championship... although you'll probably be too busy laughing at the bizarre on-field antics when battle auras mingle with passes and penalty kicks.
Lovers of manga artist Rumiko Takahashi's "Ranma 1/2" absolutely must see this movie. It does for soccer what she did for ice skating and gymnastics. Lovers of films like "Croaching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" should also seek this film out, because I think you'll get a big kick out of the Kung Fu comedy in it. "Shaolin Soccer" is a sweet, silly, romantic "underdogs do good" tale that I think is a must-see.
(By the way, the DVD version I screened contains both the original Chinese edit of film and the version that was released in theaters in America. You should watch the Chinese version, as it is superior. There are some key character-establishing elements that have been cut from the American version, and they messed with the soundtrack. The orchestra score playing over the film's final scene is far more effective than the lame remake of "Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting" that is heard in the U.S. version. The Nine-Star rating here is for the Chinese version. The U.S. edit rates Eight Stars.)