It's being touted as an action comedy with protagonist Stephen Chow the "Jim
Carrey of the East" (not by me).
But, comedy, even that of the low-brow variety, is not served well with an
exaggerated version of Jim Carrey.
National soccer hero Fung (Ng Man-tat), nick-named "Golden Leg" for his
signature power, misses a goal and has his legs broken by a mob hired by a
scheming rival. Years later he's thrown out of the league where he's been
kept employed in menial labor. He comes across Sing (Stephen Chow), a
dirt-poor street exhibitionist and can collector who turns out to be a monk
trained in martial arts. Sing attained legendary status for his "Mighty Iron
Leg." Pandering on the street wouldn't seem to fit the pedigree, but there
His ragged appearance typifies his current life as a genial hustler where his
earnings aren't enough for a couple of sweet buns made in a kung fu
style of dance by Mui (Vicki Zhao), a lady with long dark hair combed
forward in an attempt to mask a face gnarled up by ugly welts. The destitute
monk, however, intrigued by the kung fu abilities, sees beneath the grotesque
surface to the bun-maker's real attributes of beauty.
When he's confronted by street thugs and bests them with a soccer ball and
his Mighty Iron leg, an impressed Fung comes up with the idea of rounding up
Sing's fellow martial artists from Shaolin (rhymes with chow-lin) into an
unbeatable soccer team.
But, when you start a movie off at warp speed you have nowhere to go for the
finale except into greater and greater mock reality. In this realm, kicked
soccer balls break down brick walls, morph into fiery comets and create
vortices that chew up the field; leaping players defy gravity, catch the
uncatcheable and end in supersonic disarray.
Rubbery expressions, choppy bits of action and sight gags that often rely
on digitally designed emphasis are Chow's idea of comedy for mature
audiences, but the effect is a strain on the patience, if not pathetic. If
this film is Hong Kong's highest grosser (which it was when it played there),
then it would seem that the product doesn't travel well.
The notion of releasing it in the U.S. seems to be a fishing trip to
net Carrey fans while thinking it might capitalize on the success of the
breakthrough soccer hit, "Bend it
like Beckham" but the kick, it seems to me, is severely misjudged.
For those who aren't grossed out by a crude level of humor, enjoy. For those
with no taste for the cartoonish, the childish or the amateurish, you've been
~~ Jules Brenner