Stephen Chow is typically winning as a down-and-out Kung-Fu master (Shaolin style . . . whatever that is) who hopes to apply his Martial Arts discipline to all sorts of everyday activities: street food preparation, pedestrian accidents, conflict resolution, even soccer! The ensuing mayhem is more hit-and-miss (not to say juvenile) than necessary, but often enough rises to satisfying levels of absurd slapstick hilarity; with goofy CGI effects adding to the fun. Special treats include a club act for Chow & one of his many soccer-playing siblings singing ‘Shaolin-tastic’ lyrics to the tune of ‘California Dreaming,’ and a series of tag endings showing how Shaolin Kung Fu could work on the streets of Hong Kong in the near future. Note how Chow pulls an unexpected Good Guy/Bad Guy switcheroo in the turnabout-is-fair-play prologue. As if he changed his mind once he started filming.
DOUBLE-BILL: Chow turned up the dial in just about every category for KUNG FU HUSTLE/’04, his next as star/writer/director/producer.