Hong Kong martial-arts comedian Stephen Chow struck a deal with Miramax to distribute his Asian blockbuster Shaolin Soccer (2001) and watched a radically shortened version go down in flames. Sony Classics put out this 2004 follow-up uncut, and its blender spray of silent-era slapstick, cartoonish characters, and Bruce Lee nostalgia may leave you breathless. Chow plays a kung fu wannabe who lands in a muddy slum district of 1930s Shanghai (called Pig Sty Alley, it recalls not only the primitive Manhattan in Gangs of New York but the settings of some early Chaplin films). A crew of top-hatted gangsters arrive intending to kick ass but aren't prepared for the citizens' concealed kung fu skills. Some of the humor is too over-the-top for my taste, but there's no denying Chow's style, manic energy, or sense of grotesque abandon. In Cantonese and Mandarin with subtitles.
Director: Stephen Chow
Writer: Tsang Kan Cheong, Stephen Chow and Chan Keung
Producer: Bill Borden, Stephen Chow, Po Chui, Rita Fung, David Hung, Jeffrey Lau, Zhonglei Wang, Connie Wong and Hai Zhao
Cast: Stephen Chow, Yuen Wah, Yuen Qiu, Leung Siu-lung, Dong Zhihua, Chiu Chi-ling, Xing Yu, Chan Kwok-kwan, Huang Shengyi, Lam Tze-chung, Feng Xiaogang, Lam Suet, Hsiao Liang and Chi Chung Lam