Written and Directed by Stephen Chow
In Shaolin Soccer, writer, director and star Stephen Chow plays a down-on-his-luck kung fu master who wishes people would make martial arts a bigger part of their daily lives. For example, it could be used to park cars or avoid slipping on a banana peel. But he can’t manage to get the word out. He’s tried singing about it, but music is too subjective. Then he hits upon a brilliant idea: he rounds up a bunch of other failed masters and places them, along with their gravity-defying skills, on a soccer field. Together they form a ragtag team of underdogs who have to use their shaolin arts to defeat the reigning champions who are also—need it be said?—evil. It’s silly, and the digital effects enhancing the slapstick are primitive, but Shaolin Soccer so deliriously riffs on everything—from The Bad News Bears and Jurassic Park to super heroes and break dancing—that it’s hard not to get caught up in the goofy fun. Just when you think it’s going to get bogged down with plot or sentimentality, it moves on to the next joke, quick and funny throughout.