Kung Fu Hustle

Saw Stephen Chao's Kung Fu Hustle, and it's easily the best thing I've seen from him yet. Has a nice way of unfolding and raising the stakes with each plot twist (from fake gangster to real gangsters to a trio of kung fu masters to a pair of great kung fu masters, etc), and he shows a surprising amount of heart in the way he uses a lollipop and a young deaf-and-dumb girl (I swear, that's the closest I've been moved to tears for some time). There's even evidence of fairly subtle wit, as husband and wife (Paris and Helen, haw!) show up for their showdown in the cheesiest pair of canary-yellow outfits I've ever seen (well, maybe not subtle, but it's not slapstick or toilet humor). And I don't know if it's Chao or the translator, but the single funniest line in the film has to be a quote from Stan Lee--"with great power comes great responsibility" indeed.

It doesn't have the kind of purity Jackie Chan brings to his comedies (or especially Chan directed by Liu Chia Liang), but I'd say Chao has a surer, smarter sense of what audiences like. Not ready to call this a great comedy, much less a great martial-arts comedy, but it's very good indeed.  

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