Twenty years ago the man known as ‘Golden Leg’ (Ng Man Tat) had his leg broken whilst playing a game of soccer. Moreover, it is precisely because of this ghastly event, that today, he finds himself in the employ of malicious soccer boss, Hung (Patrick Tse), until Hung sacks him.
Oh dear! So what is Golden Leg going to do with himself now then, huh? He finds himself a soccer team of his own – that’s what.
Now the first person that Golden Leg approaches in this matter, is Kung-Fu expert ‘Steel Leg’ (Stephen Chow). Regrettably, though, Steel Leg does not accept this proposition straight away, oh no. First, he befriends a lonely girl who makes buns, called Mui (Vicki Zhao). Then, he causes a bit of trouble for his ‘big brother’, Iron Head (Wong Yut Fei), at a nightclub. After that, he lands himself in a fight with a couple of gangsters in a back yard. And it is only then that Steel Leg finally comes to realize that Golden Legs idea has some merit to it - and he agrees to join him in his venture.
Nevertheless, one man on his own does not a soccer team make, so Steel Leg needs more men, right? So whom does he call? No - not the Magnificent Seven - or Ghostbusters either. Instead, he asks his Shaolin brothers from his day in the monetary. to see if they wish to join him in this sporting activity. However, like Steel Leg before them, the bald, Iron Head – the portly, Light Weight – the quick, Empty Hand (Danny Chan Kwok Kwan) – the business-like, Iron Shirt (Tin Kai-Man) – and the scruffy, Hooking Leg (Lam Chi-Sing), all give him exactly the same reply – NO. As they too need a bit of time before they come round to the idea, and make for a manageable soccer team, YIPPEEE!!
Still, before dribbles can be dribbled, kicks can be kicked, and for 'Team Shaolin' to contemplate entering the tournament run by the evil mastermind, Hung, they need to practice as a team and get up to speed on their fitness levels first.
Unfortunately, though, this is by no means an easy feet for these soccer novices to do - as they have to be massacred by a group of soccer gangsters before even giving them the gumption of showing their true colors. Also, Steel Leg has to keep in touch with Mui as well – just so he can put a smile on her peculiar looking face.
Well, I suppose that is why what then transpires is a rather arduous and bold affair! As games are played – Kung-fu is fought – matches are won – powers are deployed – love is found – and a team made of stone needs something special to overcome them. But is that possible? Can the un-moveable object be moved? Or maybe just merely intercepted? Shaolin has a way – HAI-YAI!
If you love soccer – YOU WILL LOVE THIS FILM! If you love Kung-Fu comedy – YOU WILL LOVE THIS FILM! If you love manga inspires special effects – YOU WILL LOVE THIS FILM! And if you love a shed load of movie references... sigh... I’m sure that you get the idea by now, huh?
Well, in my own personal opinion, 'Shaolin Soccer' is one of those films that is just fun and captivating to watch. Heck, within the first ten minutes of this movie, you get the basic pretext, and on top of that, you get the basic style of this film too – and I mean that in a positive way.
Granted, it is not a realistic film, and it is not an epic like blockbuster movie with a ton of silly signs of serendipity either. Rather, it is a full on comical sports related adventure story, with a style that is influenced by both the eastern and western cinema genre.
Now where the eastern influence is concerned, there is the obvious manga inspired action scenes, plus quite a few Bruce Lee references also, such as: (1) The ‘Goalkeepers’ mannerisms, appearance, and jersey, resembling Bruce’s attire in the film 'Game Of Death' [click here for review]. (2) The ‘dish washer’ reference referring to Bruce’s early life in America. (3) ‘Steel Leg’ stating at the beginning of the movie that Bruce inspired him. And (4) The ‘intercepting palm technique’ relating to Bruce’s own style, JKD.
Plus, in addition to all of this, where the western influences are concerned, there is quite a lot too, like: (1) The surreal 'Saving Private Ryan' moment during the soccer game with the gangsters. (2) The 'Terminator 2'. demeanor of the men in ‘team evil’, with a touch of 'Rocky 4' inspired drug paraphernalia to boot. (3) The whole premise in essence is very reminiscent to many sports comedies like 'Nacho Libre' [click here for review] or 'Dodgeball' [click here for review]. (4) The 'Blues Brothers' getting ‘the band’ back together initial opening gambit. And (5) The whole movie screams of farce, which in theory is an English idiom.
OK, so by now, I am sure that you have come to realise that I think ‘Shaolin Soccer’ is a great movie. But apart from the movie references and the bold special effects it has on display, what else is so special about this film?
Err? Everything! It has it all - funny moments, a cartoonish tone, a polite love story, zany dancing, and conceptually a film that has a message – one about honor of one self, and for those whom are around you.
So how can I disrespect a movie that has such a great message like that, huh? Well, I could I suppose if I was a git – but I am not a git – I am a person who understands what care and detail was grafted into this film, to make it one of the most captivating and funny movies that I have watched in a long while.
In closing, I like to leave you with a thought that I had once this film was finished. I just wondered to myself, what would Bruce Lee have made of this film? He was a man that wanted to transcend race by showing the west what the east could do – and in someway I am sure that this film optimized his sentiment to a tea.
Great film – no flaws – and a blast in a box.
THE RATING: A