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.
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