Gang war rages in the ghettos of pre-revolutionary China. On one side, the dancing mobsters of the Axe Gang. On the other, the grubby but deadly kung fu masters of Pig Sty Alley. Caught in the middle is Sing (Stephen Chow), a scruffy street hustler desperate to be a gangster. But none of this matters much, since Kung Fu Hustle is essentially one long computer-enhanced Looney Tunes punch-up - and probably the most fun you'll have at the movies all year.
Stephen Chow might just be the saviour of action cinema. Anyone who caught his last film, the deliriously stupid Shaolin Soccer, will know what to expect: martial arts mayhem meets the vicious comic brilliance of vintage Tex Avery cartoons. No gag is too cheesy, no special effect too extreme. The plot, such as it is, sees the Axe Gang hiring a string of bizarre hit men to take down the landlady of Pig Sty Alley (Qiu Yuen), a Kung Fu Hilda Ogden with a voice that can splinter concrete.
"EXTRAORDINARY COLLECTION OF SMACKDOWNS"
Veering like a drunken driver between naïve sweetness and startling cruelty, Kung Fu Hustle is infuriatingly erratic, very, very funny and occasionally just flat-out insane. Chow, who writes and directs, must share credit with fight choreographers Yuen Woo Ping and Sammo Hung. Together they have cooked up an extraordinary collection of smackdowns, culminating in a full scale tenement assault that makes a mockery of The Matrix and kicks Gangs Of New York in the gonads.
It's not subtle, and it's not clever, but it is fabulous.
In Cantonese.with English subtitles.