Little can be said about Shaolin Soccer - you're either going to like it or avoid it at all costs. It is a kung fu movie and soccer movie rolled into one, and while everything is live action, it plays out like one gigantic cartoon. Goofiness is key, and those not interested in goofy should steer clear.
Shaolin Soccer is a long-delayed Chinese import that finally made its way to limited theaters earlier this year. The choice by Miramax to not market it wide was a good idea, as it probably won't appeal to massive American audiences. Basically, it is about a failed soccer player who teams up a bunch of kung fu masters to play soccer against Team Evil to win a $1,000,000 championship. They fly, spin and of course kick their way to victory after victory, wowing all the teams as they use their special powers to win.
The movie is much more than that, however, as it actually is quite clever in the way it executes its action. It is basically a Jackie Chan movie combined with Super Mario Brothers - hence, Jackie Chan on mushrooms. Everything is like a cartoon, as the soccer ball turns into flames because it is going so fast, the grass is torn from the field due the velocity of the players, and so on and so forth. It is really hard to describe the absolute craziness that is shown on screen.
In terms of results, they are mixed. Shaolin Soccer does not sport the best graphics around - in fact, they are quite terrible. However, this adds (probably intentionally) to the goofiness of the film. The movie does have a lot of great moments that had me laughing out loud, but it also has some parts that I could just have easily skipped through. The way director Stephen Chow so randomly goes from moment to moment however is quite entertaining (every once in a while, the characters will suddenly start singing). One line really caught my fancy, when the players finally meet their match when they take on a team of kung fu women dressed up like men. As the women fly through the air like they do in so many of these kinds of movies, one of the players says: "How are they doing that? They must be on wires or something!" Okay, so I thought it was funny. Nevermind...
Shaolin Soccer is a zany movie that is great to watch with friends. It is like a cartoon on drugs, only completely harmless and easy to enjoy. It's not high quality, but that's okay.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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