The first 10 minutes amazed me with humour and confusion. There was a Chinese cowboy and a dancing ‘Axe Gang’; to top it all of a gay barber who constantly has his arse showing throughout the film.
The film is based around the storyline of a wannabe gangster, Sing, in 1940’s China, Shanghai to be exact, aspiring to join this notorious (dancing) “Axe Gang”. All while the residents of a housing complex, entitled Pig Sty Alley, exhibiting extraordinary powers in defending their territory; caused by Sing (Stephen Chow) and his chubby side-kick Bone’s actions. It is ruled by these rather eccentric landlord and landlady (Qui Yuen), who turn out to be some of the greatest kung-fu masters in disguise. Sing manages to inadvertently involving the Axe Gang and the ‘slumlords’ to engage in an explosive kung-fu battle. He then must defend the slum from The Beast (Sui-Lung Leung) who is employed by the Axe Gang, who he humiliated, to defeat them and get revenge. Sing fetches this kung-fu master and killer from jail; little does he know he will cause even more conflict. But there can only be one side that can win, one male protagonist that can emerge as the greatest king-fu master.
Qui Yuen too is skilled in Chinese martial arts; she studied under the same master as Jackie Chan and Samma Hung Kam-Bo. She plays a magnificent moody landlady with hidden talent and beauty. Her power is kind of humorous in the sense of being from a woman character. You’ll have to watch or read up about it to find out; I don’t want to ruin anything.
Stephen Chow is a very talented man; not only can he act, he can direct, write and has amazing kung fu skills. He is quite commonly known for Shaolin Soccer; for which he wrote, directed and starred in, as well as for King Fu Hustle. Both movies contain Kwok-Kwan Chan, Chi Chung Lam and Kai Man Tin. The chemistry between Stephen Chow and all these actors on screen is obvious they are confident with each other, giving more advantages to the films authenticity and acting.
The fight sequences are very well done with its’ many areas of computer graphics and keep the movie moving at a frantic and exciting pace. Chow excellently combines the fight scenes and graphics together without distracting from each other and enhancing the martial arts action. The humour and action are executed very well alongside each other in order to get the viewer both enticed in the story line and entertained through absurdity.
All in all this film had me enticed as most of the comedy was visual. The plot is simple enough that even the most ardent haters of subtitles, like me, won't mind the language barrier. Made me both chuckle and stare in awe; exactly what a good action comedy should do. There are many pop culture references in there like reservoir dogs and the matrix. All done very tongue in cheek. Just to top it off, they throw a very slight love story in for the romantic touch.
Result: A comical 7/10 for this brilliant sub-titled action, adventure comedy. I recommend it and am thoroughly looking forward to the 2nd film to come in 2012. A real martial arts cult classic.