Kung Fu Hustle (Blu-ray)
A- Sound: A- Extras: B- Film: B
attempts to combine martial arts and comedy have been such outright failures
that I have lost count. Sure, you can
have humor in a Bruce Lee film, but to do a film that is outright comic and
still holds together is not easy. Even
the James Bond film The Man With The
Golden Gun (1974) flirted with this and in such moments was much more
successful than films that spent the whole time trying. Spoofs since the 1980s have been far worse,
but Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
is the film that finally hits the nail on the head.
the Martial Arts, Gangster, Musical and Comedy genres with exceptional skills,
the film is about a town ruled by a dangerous gang that is skilled in
self-defense among other things. One
young man (Chow, who has great comic timing as well) is interested in becoming
part of them, but that is not easy. As
he investigates, he discovers one place where their influence stops: a slum
that seems like it is not worth the trouble.
It has its landlords and they do not suffer fools gladly. When the gang tries to invade, they are in
for the surprise of their life when the landlords turn out to be Martial Arts
experts, all of which leads up to one of the most memorable and hilarious
climaxes you could imagine.
This is a
real labor of love from Chow, working in a peak form Jackie Chan could only
dream of. Like Tarantino’s recent Kill Bill films, the love of cinema and
these genres is strong and Chow knows how to really put this all on the
screen. There is amazing chemistry on a
wide scale here, everyone firing each other up.
It is never too goofy or restrained.
This should have been a huge hit in the U.S., but the Martial Arts cycle
was dying down. Now, you can see what
you have been missing. If you have seen
it, then you know already.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was the one live-action clip on Sony’s
first Blu-ray demo in stores that really looked good (only rivaled by Disney’s
all-digitally animated Chicken Little)
and as good as anything on their own Blu-ray demo just released as their first
Blu-ray machine debuted. This is a
beautiful film-to-HD job that really shows off the great work of
cinematographer Poon Hang-Sang, H.K.S.C., (Zu
Warriors (reviewed elsewhere on this site), Jet Li’s Fearless) that alone makes this a Blu-ray disc to beat.
Chinese/Cantonese PCM 5.1 mix is most impressive, with amusing surrounds, music
that makes sense and surrounds and base that really kick in when the action
happens. I cannot begin to list all the
supposedly devoted action films that could not compete here either in the sound
department and that include some big budget Superhero genre films. Lesser English & French 5.1 mixes are also
include an outtakes/bloopers section, behind the scenes featurette, Chow
interview by Ric Meyers and feature length cast/crew audio commentary. All in all, this is one of the best Blu-rays
on the market and an early gem from Sony’s catalog that more than delivers. This should have been a huge hit in the U.S.,
but the Martial Arts cycle was dying down.
However, as an early Blu-ray release and a strong one at that, the film
is guaranteed to find the new, larger audience it deserves. And a sequel is on the way.
- Nicholas Sheffo