Computer generated special effects have seldom been so giddy as in Shaolin Soccer, a gleeful fusion of kung fu and a classic Bad News Bears sports story. A former soccer star--whose "golden leg" was broken by a hired mob--... more »assembles a team of former students of Shaolin martial arts, whose assorted skills (indicated by their nicknames, like Mighty Steel Leg and Iron Head) lend themselves to the swift interplay of the world's most popular game. Along the way, the team's leader (Hong Kong comic superstar Stephen Chow) meets a sticky bun baker (Vicki Zhao) whose kung fu is the equal of any of his teammates. Shaolin Soccer is supremely silly--in the final match, their opponents are called Team Evil--but that's part of the fun. American movies rarely achieve this perfect balance of the absurd and the sincere. A delight. --Bret Fetzer« less
Brad S. (Snibot) from DALLAS, TX Reviewed on 2/19/2010...
Stephen Chow really comes up with a funny story here, it is predictable but that is part of the point.
Well acted for a slapstick comedy and has some excellent choreography, CGI, and ahead of its time cinematography.
If you are expecting any form of soccer realism spare yourself this movie, you won't like it; the point is that it is ridiculous.
The love story is well done, Wei Zhao and Stephen Chow have great chemistry; in addition the abilities of these two actors to show martial arts is simply breathtaking, they have excellent fluid motions and nice form. The CGI effects really amplify their abilities.
I am excited to see Wei Zhao in some other martial arts movies.
Bend it Like Golden Leg Fung
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 04/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had heard about Shaolin Soccer (2001) a couple of years ago from a friend, as he had recommended it to me, knowing the particular way some of my tastes ran, and I am glad he did, as it's a heady mix of the wacky, the absurd, and the just plain fun. The movie starts off with a flashback, showing an extremely popular Chinese soccer player named Golden Leg Fung accepting money to throw a game from a lackey, and the consequences of his actions, including a severely crippling beating by the crowd after purposely missing a rather easy goal scoring opportunity. Now, it's many years later, and Fung now works for the gangster organization that had originally paid him off, in a completely demeaning position. He dreams of coaching, but the once lackey who owns the current champion soccer team and is also chairman of the league, finds this notion completely humorous, and heap further degradations upon Fung. Despondent, Fung ends up meeting a vagabond/shaolin follower called Steel Leg, and formulates a plan to build a new soccer team around this exceptional martial artist. Fung also finds out Steel Leg has enough brothers, all once trained in martial arts, to make up a team. Each brother has their own, unique ability, and soon they begin to practice. During their first practice, the men suffer a fairly brutal beating (this whole pain, beating, and humiliation factor seems to be a constant theme throughout), but soon find their shaolin training coming back to them, and turn the tables on their opponents. They enter the tournament, sweeping through the ranks, until finally the meet with the current champions, the Evil Team (I'm not kidding, that's their name), and meet the ultimate challenge, as the chairman gives his team a decidedly unfair advantage. Will the shaolin players be victorious, or will they suffer the crushing defeat at the hands of the chairman and his evil team?
The special effects here are truly amazing and inventive, making for the most insane soccer playing I've ever seen. Imagine someone being able to kick a soccer ball with the same force of shooting it out of a cannon, and with pinpoint accuracy. There is not really a lot of actual soccer playing, in the traditional sense, as with the abilities of the players, the ball mainly zooms around in a very cartoonish manner. Mixing kung fu and soccer is certainly and interesting concept, and provides some really spectacular visuals. The English captioning is really bad, but certainly gave me much to laugh about, along with the seriously outlandish overacting.
Special features include an option to watch the film with the deleted scenes, the deleted scenes by themselves, a trailer, biographies, a featurette on the making of the film, a photo gallery, and behind the scenes featurette on how the special effects were made. All in all, Shaolin Soccer is an unsane, over the top comedy steeped in outrageous action and definitely worth a look if you care to expand your horizons.
Don't Bother With The Miramaxe Version
Michael L. White | Westland, MI United States | 06/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One in a long list of films that have been butchered by Miramax in an effort to make Hong Kong films more palatable, SHAOLIN SOCCER suffered doubly due to shifting release dates (it was pushed back for over a year and a half). In its native country, SHAOLIN SOCCER was one of the most successful films and for good reason. It takes the typical "ragtag underdogs teaming up to fight against insurmountable odds" adding Shaolin kung fu and special effects to the mix for a perfect combination.
When the formerly formidable soccer star Golden Leg Fung (Man Tat Ng)--now a limping lackey thanks to his teammate Hung (Patrick Tse)--loses his job, he hopes to start his own soccer team. He happens upon Sing (Stephen Chow), a cleaner who has been charged by his former master with spreading the techniques of Shaolin kung fu. Sing has been searching for a way to repackage Shaolin in a new, exciting, and socially viable form. It takes a bit but Sing finally realizes that his "Iron Leg" technique would be a perfect fit in Golden Leg's dream soccer team.
Golden Leg and Iron Leg set out to convince Sing's five other brothers to join in their venture. They discover that Iron Head (Yut Fei Wong), Empty Hand (Kwok Kuen Chan), Weight Vest (Lam Chi Chung), Hooking Leg (Chi-Sing Lam), and Iron Shirt (Kai Man Tin) have let their confidence and skills lapse. Can they regain the spirit from their idealistic days of youth? You better believe it! After some hilarious training sequences, the brothers come together as a team and begin to make their way through the ranks of the soccer championships until their showdown with Hung's appropriately named "Evil Team."
Along the way, Sing meets Mui (Vicki Zhao), a master of Tai Chi and bread making. When the two meet, Sing's infectious optimism and singing create chaos in the streets and results in a dance sequence highly inspired by Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. This moment is typical of the uproarious tone of Chow's film. As much as it took from other "losers banding together" films like THE BAD NEWS BEARS, REVENGE OF THE NERDS, and THE REPLACEMENTS, Chow's film helped pave the way for other Asian "extreme sport" films such as Fumihiko Sori's PING PONG and Yudai Yamaguchi's BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL.
A word of warning: in all, nearly twenty-two minutes of the film were eliminated for the long-delayed, limited US release. Things missing include the backstory between Fung and Hung. Avoid this version at all costs. Region free NTSC versions with English subtitles are readily available via innumerable web vendors. Shun this (and any other) Miramax re-cuts like the plague."
Brilliant blend of martial arts, comedy, SFX, mysticism
Michael Topper | Pacific Palisades, California United States | 04/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stephen Chow has proven himself to be one of the world's finest directors with "Shaolin Soccer" (aka "Kung-Fu Soccer"), which was Hong Kong's biggest-ever box-office success when released in 2001. The simple story of a family of brothers who use Shaolin kung-fu to win the national China soccer tournament against The Evil Team (who use "American medicines" to win their games) is
bolstered by some hilarious comedy, spirited performances and
very creative special effects. Outside of the comedic scenes--
which are among the funniest I've seen in a foreign film in a long time--the film's mystical element comes through most uniquely, as during the fabled hypnotic scene involving Mui's steamed bread making. The part where the brothers are getting beaten to death on the field and then suddenly "freeze" revert to ancient kung-fu forms was also startling and wonderful.Although banned in mainland China because it was released in Hong Kong before given official certification, this film also works as a glimpse into what the modern-day country looked like in 2001. "Shaolin Soccer" was primarily filmed not in Hong Kong but in Shanghai, and uses that city's futuristic-looking new skyscrapers and hip, youthful citizens as a slick, glittery backdrop to its story. Never before has communist China looked this modern, confident and vibrant in a movie. The special effects, too, are very cutting-edge, and work particularly well during the final soccer match where flying soccer balls become ferocious black tigers, and some kicks are so powerful as to rip the skin right off of the players. At no point is this movie ever dull or uninteresting, and most of the time it moves at a roaring pace. The director's cut on the foreign DVD is even better, as it features two lengthy scenes that were cut out of the original, but add to the subplot between Sing and Mui.Whether you are a fan of martial arts, comedy, China, or just
plain good old fashioned filmmaking, this film is for you, and when it is released here in the US this August I hope it becomes
a phenomenon. Very highly recommended--I have seen it three times now and it continues to grow on me."
MA2283 | So. California, USA | 12/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was friggin hilarious. The plot basically goes down like this: An former soccer player (who is now a coach) recruits a kung fu master who believes that using kung fu to play soccer would be a smart thing to do. They go on to recruit other kung fu masters and the coach then teaches them the fundamentals of soccer. The movie then progresses to show them developing into an indestructable soccer team. The scenes worth watching are the definitely the soccer scenes which involve "Matrix" like special effects. This is one of the best foreign films I have ever seen. If you can get your hands on this movie, I suggest that you don't pass it up."