Stephen Chow is a popular actor-director from Hong Kong. Movies and television shows from Hong Kong were very popular in Singapore, and I grew up watching many of his movies. One of my favourite Stephen Chow movies is “Kung Fu Hustle.”
Stephen Chow’s movies are known to be nonsensically funny, and Kung Fu Hustle is exactly that. Set in the 1940s, it tells the story of Sing (Stephen Chow), who comes to Pigsty Alley, a neighbourhood slum in Shanghai, and pretends to be part of the ruthless and mean Axe Gang. He eventually joins the Gang after impressing the leader with his lock-picking skills.
When the Axe Gang arrives in Pigsty Alley and turns violent against the residents, the Gang quickly discovers that Pigsty Alley is home to many Kung Fu masters, and they have no choice but to retreat.
After an unsuccessful first attempt, the Axe Gang returns to Pigsty Alley, bringing with them some powerful Kung Fu assassins to kill those masters. But Pigsty Alley had a surprise waiting for them, and you’ll have to watch the movie to know what the surprise is.
I recently rewatched Kung Fu Hustle, and even though I have watched this movie many times as a child, I still laughed as hard. Not only is this movie comedic gold, it has plenty of exciting (but slightly bizarre) fighting scenes and interesting special effects.
I love the residents of Pigsty Alley, especially Landlady (Yuen Qiu), who I’d like to think is the true star of this movie. Always chain-smoking while dressed in her nightie with her hair in rollers, Landlady is a kung fu fighting woman who may seem heartless at first, but whose softer side is revealed as the movie progresses. The world of kung fu might be dominated by men, but I enjoyed how Landlady is portrayed as an equal, and in fact, even better at kung fu than most of the men in the movie. Landlady provides a nice contrast to the other gentle, hyperfeminine women featured in this movie.
Kung Fu Hustle is a great introduction to the world of Stephen Chow/Hong Kong comedy movies, and I think this is a must-watch especially if you are into action-comedies or Asian films. You can stream it on Netflix Japan. Let me know if you’ve watched it!