Gong Fu (2004)
Set in 1940’s China, the “Axe Gang” has overrun most of Shanghai except for some of the smaller poorer neighborhoods. When the wanna be gangster Sing (Stephen Chow) enters the small village of mix matched residents who are ruled by a overbearing Landlady (Qiu Yuen) and her husband the Landlord (Wah Yuen), he discovers the true nature and identity of the residents. Hiding in the village are some of the worlds best Kung Fu Masters disguised as a tailor (Chiu Chi Ling), a donut maker (Dong Zhi Hua) and a regular guy Coolie (Xing Yu).
After the initial fight between Sing and the villagers the leader of the Axe Gang (Hsiao Liang) sets his sights on defeating the village and taking over its operations. The rest of the film is really a series of incredibly well choreographed fight scenes and some incredible humor. Eventually the good guys win with a few surprises and the realization of Sing’s true power and path in life.
I have not had this much fun at a film in a really long time. When I left the theatre, I really wanted more. The film is wonderfully directed by film veteran Stephen Chow and is a perfect example of what CGI can accomplish in a film. There are a lot of special effects but they are used with incredible care and attention. The fight sequences were amazing with one of my favorites being the night fight involving the Gu Zhen (an amazing musical instrument).
Chow’s vision in creating an alternative world where heroes are made from ordinary people is wonderfully entertaining. This film is funny and beautiful, plus it reminded me once again of my desire to learn how to speak Chinese.