Saturday, September 24, 2011

Basketball Jones

Kung Fu Dunk is one of the last Netflix movies I saw before heading off to Japan. As a result, it's going to be one of the last Netflix movies I'll blog about, at least for a while.

To get the obvious out of the way, KFD is a Shaolin Soccer rip-off, and by no means as inspired as Steven Chow's masterpiece. It is also a Jay Chou vehicle. We know Chou as the recent Green Hornet's Kato. In China, he is a combination rock/rap/pop star and action hero - sort of a combination Marky Mark and Mark Wahlberg. Except he looks more like Justin Beiber, with his adorable moptop hair.

He was abandoned as a baby at a Shaolin monastery, where he becomes a bit of a rebel. It's kind of a lousy monastery anyways, with a corrupt head monk,  few lazy teachers and a gay couple (unless she was supposed to be a butch nun?).

When Chou runs away, he meets a homeless genius, played by Eric Tsang, who decides to make him a college basketball star. Tsang I recognized from a thousand Sammo Hung movies - he was one of the Lucky Stars/Aces Go Places crew. A lot of the other faces were familiar as well.

Chou's teammates include a matched pair of cute guys, both the thin-faced, scraggly-bearded pony-tailed Chinese hipster types. You could tell them apart only because one was a drunk. He was the one who taught Chou the mystery of the Slam Dunk. It isn't clear why this is needed, because Chou could hit the basket from anywhere on the court. I guess if the opposing team has wire-fu skills, they can block pretty well, so you have to carry it in.

Skipping over the lame romantic angle and the meager laughs, we jump to the final big game, which has been fixed by gangsters. The opposing team are all thugs and the ref looks the other way. Only Kung Fu can save them. Interestingly, I watched this right around when a Shanghai team was playing a "friendly" game with Georgetown in the US that wound up in a brawl, supposedly due to biased refereeing. No mention of kung fu on either side, though.

OK, so it was a pretty lame, messy movie. But how were the action scenes? Pretty good, actually. The fights and games were all really well done, best that money can buy. Let's just say I've seen worse and enjoyed it.

But Jay Chou seems a lot less cool to me now.

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