Shaolin Soccer (2001) Chinese Movie Information
Title in Chinese – 少林足球
Title in Pinyin – Shao Lin Zu Qiu
Genre – Kungfu & Comedy
Subject/theme – A group of down and out Shaolin masters are recruited to play soccer
Language – Cantonese
Region – Hong Kong
Hong Kong – 12th July 2001
Australia – 9th August 2001
Russia – 27th June 2002
USA – 10th November 2002
Movie runtime – 102 minutes
Director – Stephen Chow
Cast & Role Played
Stephen Chow – Sing “Mighty Steel Leg” Shaolin master and 5th brother
Ng Man-tat – Fung “Golden Leg” soccer coach and ex soccer star
Zhao Wei – Mui, Tai Chi Chuan master and steamed bread maker
Wong Yut Fei – “Iron Head” Shaolin master and 1st brother
Lam Chi-sing – “Hooking Leg” Shaolin master and 2nd brother
Tin Kai-man – “Iron Shirt” Shaolin master and 3rd brother
Danny Chan Kwok Kwan – “Empty Hand” Shaolin master and 4th brother
Lam Chi Chung – “Light Weight Vest” Shaolin master and 6th brother
Patrick Tse – Hung, ex soccer champion and coach of Team Evil
Nicolas Tse – the young Hung at the beginning of the movie
Cecilia Cheung – Team Dragon Player 7
Karen Mok – Team Dragon Player 11
Back in the 80’s Fung was an arrogant rising soccer star called Golden leg but his career was abruptly brought to and end when he accepted a bribe from his team mate Hung to lose a match. At the end of the game a mob of enraged fans beat Fung and broke his leg, crippling him. Unbeknown to Fung at the time, Hung arranged for his leg to be broken.
After being Hung’s toady and lap dog for 20 years, Fung has enough, quits and starts wandering the streets as a vagrant. One day he comes across Sing who is a full time garbage collector and a part time Kungfu instructor. Sing is a master of the Steel Leg style of Shaolin Kungfu. Fung witnesses the power of Sing’s kicks and after a second fateful encounter with Sing, they decide to combine Shaolin Kungfu with soccer to create the ultimate soccer team. Eager to put their plan into action, Sing tries to recruit his five Kungfu brothers into his soccer team. All of his brothers are down on their luck, living hopeless lives and refuse to join him.
Inspired by Sing’s unshakeable faith in them, they eventually join Sing and start training under Fung’s direction. After a shaky start, they recover their Kungfu skills and start obliterating team after team of hapless opponents. Their success puts them on collision course with the leagues reining team “Team Evil” who is coached by Fung’s enemy, Hung. The two teams are pitted against each other in the finals in a brutal no holds barred match where Sing and his brothers strive to use their Shaolin Kungfu against the overwhelming drug enhanced might of Team Evil.
Editor’s Review of Shaolin Soccer – Score 9/10
Stephen Chow is famous for directing and starring in a string of highly successful slapstick/parody comedy movies that take the piss out of their more serious counterparts. He excelled him self with Shaolin Soccer which is his best movie to date. Shaolin Soccer has a perfect combination of serious acting and moving scenes with ridiculously funny scenes and comic acting. The cast that includes Ng Man Tat who often appears in Stephen Chow’s movies, Zhao Wei and Wong Yut Fei were excellent and ideal for the characters they played.
Shaolin Soccer also has a serious side introduced in the beginning of the movie which is the spread of Kungfu to improve peoples daily lives. The end of the movie emphases this message in a humorous manner that fits in flawlessly to the overall theme and feel of Shaolin Soccer. Zhao Wei is the only mainland Chinese cast in the movie and it is funny to hear her speaking Mandarin to Stephen Chow’s character when everyone else in the movie is speaking Cantonese.
Zhao Wei is a beautiful actress and pop star and uglifying her into the hideous bread maker and Tai Chi Chuan master who goes to a horrible beautician and tries to look good with copious amounts of make up is both a delightful and very human touch. Danny Chan Kwok Kwan who plays Empty Hand who is the team goalie puts on a great parody of Bruce Lee. His goalie uniform is Bruce Lee’s signature yellow and black striped outfit and his hand gestures and facial expressions are pure Bruce Lee.
The final match where Sing and his team face Team Evil is brilliant with special affects such as kicks that cause gale force winds and balls that tear trenches down the field as they break the sound barrier. The last part of the match where Zhao Wei’s character with her shaven head saves the day is a tear jerker.