"Soccer Inside the Matrix"
What You Need To Know:
Much of the movie’s fun is watching sensational kung fu moves worked into a soccer game. Although a false pagan, the kung fu is more of a plot device than a solicitation. The Chinese culture that embraces kung fu is so far removed from contemporary western culture that few audience members will see it as anything more than a fighting style. This movie is a friendlier alternative for anyone wanting to see martial arts movies like KILL BILL.
(Pa. FR, B, L, V, A, DD, M) Pagan, false religious outlook accepts kung fu as “the answer to everything,” but good and true persevere to triumph over literal evil; no obscenities and two light profanities; action violence includes soccer player beaten by mob, some kung fu sequences, soccer game that turns into a parody of a war scene, man accidentally slaps woman, and physically intense soccer playing; man drinks beer; evil man smokes cigarettes and the villains (called “Team Evil”) use steroids; and, man shoplifts but pays later.
SHAOLIN SOCCER is a strange import from China that will especially appeal to teenage fans of offbeat comedy. It will likely be some children’s first foreign movie.
Sing, played by writer/director Stephen Chow, is a master of shaolin kung fu, but he is frustrated that so few people know about its usefulness and beauty. Fung, a soccer player who was forced to retire due to injury, is now an over-the-hill coach looking for some decent players. The two meet by accident but see potential in each other. With the help of Sing’s shaolin brothers, they form a soccer team to defeat Fung’s arch rival in a lucrative tournament.
Much of the movie’s fun is watching sensational kung fu moves worked into a soccer game. Lots of the flips, kicks, and distinct camerawork are reminiscent of THE MATRIX (which borrowed from Chinese martial arts movies like A TOUCH OF ZEN), except instead of a bloody killing spree, they are in the context of an after-school game.
The story sounds trite, but the movie is intentionally campy. It borrows styles that will be familiar to American television and movie watchers, specifically that of 70s kung fu movies. You’d recognize it if you saw it. There is also a brief Broadway-style dance scene that will feel old hat to American viewers, but they must realize that this movie was released to Chinese audiences in 2001, and the joke was newer then. Perhaps the style could best be described as “magical realism,” a literary genre that is making its way onto film more often in the past few years. Regardless, the jokes often work, and the movie maintains an upbeat pace.
SHAOLIN SOCCER is mostly harmless fun for fans of action movies or soccer. Although a false religious element is present with the kung fu, it is more of a plot device than a solicitation. The Chinese culture that embraces kung fu as a philosophy is so far removed from contemporary western culture that few audience members will see it as anything more than a fighting style. This movie is a much friendlier alternative for anyone wanting the KILL BILL movies.