A great example of a film that is both very strange and wonderfully entertaining for everyone.

Shaolin Soccer is about the most original, refreshingly different and funny film I have seen. Without a doubt, it is the best Chinese film I have seen and may be even better than my favorite Japanese comedy, Happiness of Katakuris. It is on-par with the funniest American and British films as well!!  You MUST see this film.

This movie succeeds because it is a perfect melding of a traditional sports movie (it’s highly reminiscent of the American film Dodge Ball) with WAY over-the-top Crouching Tiger-type martial arts special effects–with a little Bruce Lee thrown in as well (the one goalie even dresses like Lee—with the same yellow jersey Lee wore in Game of Death). And, from start to finish it is just plain funny–even the opening credits are even great.

The film is about an ex-soccer player who was knocked out of the sport when he missed a penalty kick and was savagely beaten by the crowd. The film advances 20 years to the present where this same man is still down-and-out and wanting revenge against his old boss–the owner of “Team Evil” (I swear—that IS the team’s name)! When meets a very strange poor guy dedicated to Shaolin Kung Fu, he realizes this guy’s amazing and super-human powers can he used for soccer. Once he convinces the guy to join a new team, this Kung Fu master summons his older, overweight and completely un-athletic appearing brothers to form the basis for a team. These apparent losers, though, turn out to be highly reminiscent of the 5 Chinese Brothers from the old children’s story–with super-human skills of their own.

One brother can kick a ball so high it takes an hour to hit the ground, another has a head of steel, another can carry the ball on his chest, and another is a goalie who is apparently invincible and can score against the other team all the way from his own goalie box!! They enter the national tournament and all appears certain for them to take the championship AND the $1,000,000 prize—until Team Evil unveils their newest secret weapon!! Will the good Shaolin soccer team prevail or will Evil win the day?? Tune in to see it and be completely amazed and bowled over by the amazing and funny special effects–plus a lot of great twists and turns along the way! This film really has heart and is great fun for anyone EXCEPT total stick-in-the-muds who can’t laugh and suspend all disbelief for this wonderful fantasy. You must see this film. And, it’s great even if you couldn’t care less about sports movies!

By the way, the DVD has 2 very different versions–the American version (less than 90 minutes long) and the original version which is about 20 minutes longer and is subtitled. My review is based on the subtitled version. I would never consider watching the shorter version, as every moment I spent watching this film was pure gold–how could any clod consider cutting perfection down to 89 minutes?!  Plus, the longer version is so perfect that if you see the shortened one, you’ll really be missing something.

Now–go on, get up and get the DVD,….NOW!

Article by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer

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