Shaolin Soccer

Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Stephen Chow, Vicki Zhao, Man Tat Ng, Yin Tse, Sarondar Li, Yut Fei Wong

Director: Stephen Chow

Some movies gain an enthusiastic audience when it is finally released in the cinema. Others build up word of mouth such as the likes of BUBBA HO-TEP, DONNIE DARKO and HERO, mainly due to the fact that their releases have been delayed outside of the country from where the movie was originally made. SHAOLIN SOCCER has suffered the same faith as it was originally released in 2001. If that is not enough humiliation, what is worse is that a movie that was originally 112 minutes has been cut down to about 87 minutes and with that the heart of what the story was really all about, more about that later. We will first see how this dubbed, from Cantonese to English, version fairs.

The story starts 20 years in the past where at a final of the National Soccer Championships, the final kick of the game is to be a penalty taken by the player with the golden foot, Fung (Man Tat Ng). Fung accepts a bribe from team-mate Hung (Yin Tse) to miss the shot and costs the team the match. Angry fans then invade the pitch and head straight to Fung and proceed to break one of his legs.

Present day, we find that Hung had became a national football star and has employed the limping Fung, not out of pity but more to have him around to humiliate him. When Hung announces that a National Soccer Tournament is to be held with prize money of one million dollars, Fung wants the opportunity to represent a team but Hung does not allow him. Feeling let down again, Fung comes across Sing (co-writer and director Stephen Chow), a student of Shaolin with a foot of steel and tries to build a team around him. Sing sees this as an opportunity to combine his Shaolin skills with soccer and calls on his five brothers to help him out. Throw in a love interest, some hilarious scenes and switch off your brain for 87 minutes and you should enjoy this nonsense comedy. But on the other hand…

There are times when the movie’s humour approaches AIRPLANE territory. This is not a bad thing for this cut but does make a mockery of the original. Where the original story concentrated more on the brothers and their relationship with each other, this version makes them out to be more like friends than family. Other cut scenes show Hung, acting like a sunglass wearing Robert Evans, to be more evil than he is in this version. The comedy and action itself comes in the form of CGI flaming balls shooting through the air at a thousand miles an hour and the usual wirework. In fact, some of it looks so good somebody should release a computer game version of this movie – that is if no one has already. This is a fun movie to watch if you have not seen the original but if you have, then it would be hard not to feel angry over what they have done to the original version. In a way this dubbed version might be held with as much contempt as say Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece BRAZIL, which at one stage was also chopped to death and had a happy ending inserted just to please the studios.

4 out of 6 stars

Share