Shaolin Soccer (2001)

shaolin soccer poster 2001 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Original, different, and completely unique

Have to buy into it to enjoy it

Movie Info

Movie Name: Shaolin Soccer

Studio: Star Oversea

Genre(s): Comedy/Action/Adventure/Sports/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Martial Arts

Release Date(s):  July 12, 2001 (Hong Kong)/April 2, 2004 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG

shaolin soccer roll dance stephen chow

Dance like no one is watching

Team Evil is ruled by Hung (Patrick Tse) who uses his money and influence to control the world of professional soccer.  When former standout “Golden Leg” Fung (Ng Man-tat) meets “Mighty Steel Leg” Sing (Stephen Chow), he realizes Fung’s mastery of Shaolin could be applied to soccer and bring about the downfall of Team Evil.  Fung begins to teach Sing and his brothers the skills of soccer…but Hung and Team Evil won’t go down without a fight.

Written and directed by Stephen Chow (with additional writing by Tsang Kan-cheung), Shaolin Soccer (少林足球 or Siu Lam juk kau) is a sports action comedy.  Originally released in Hong Kong in 2001, the film received a United States release in 2004.  It received positive reviews.

I saw Kung Fu Hustle in the theater and immediately went back and sought out Shaolin Soccer.  I really enjoyed the blend of comedy and action and found it a unique movie with very few comparisons.  I hadn’t seen Shaolin Soccer in years, but it was great to revisit it.

shaolin soccer lightning hand danny chan kwok kwan bruce lee

Bruce Lee…meets soccer

The film is rather long though the American release did edit a chunk out of it.  The longer version of the film does serve to develop and build the plot.  The film ranges from parody to slapstick to straight up action at points.  You have the super-villain (even in name) Team Evil and a host of enemy players facing off against a uniquely perfect team of odd balls that have “powers” which allow them to excel.  In addition, you have the kind of unique romance of between Sing and Mui (Zhao Wei) which doesn’t develop like you’d expect in a film like this (or at least an American film).

The cast is great.  Stephen Chow demonstrates great comic timing along the vein of Jackie Chan by combining his fighting abilities with a script that works for them.  The brothers (played by Wong Yat-fei, Mok Mei-lam, Tin Kai-man, Danny Chan Kwok-kwan, and Lam Chi-chung) provide enough variety that even they develop in the course of the movie.  Zhao Wei is an unconventional female romance, and the face-off between the likable down-and-out Ng Man-tat and Patrick Tse is good.

shaolin soccer team evil fireball

Team Evil brings the heat!

The movie’s visuals are both inspiring and cheesy.  The blending of genres and styles is the highlight (there is even some Bollywood mixed in for good measure).  The effects are obviously digitalized, but you kind of expected it from the storyline.  While there are now better special effects, I kind of like the simplicity of Shaolin Soccer’s simple digital videos because they kind of add to the humor of the story.

Shaolin Soccer is kind of like The Bad News Bears…with soccer.  You get an unlikely team of heroes against insurmountable odds, and they win you over both in their actions and their playing.  You kind of know how Shaolin Soccer is going to end (though the bringing of the Shaolin technique to the everyday man is kind of fun), but you can still enjoy the film and the ride.  Summon your inner power, and seek it out!

Related Links:

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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