Sing rounds up an unlikely and none-too-eager crew: some middle-aged guys who are out of shape and a 300-pound youth. Yet all unleash awesome gifts once Fung starts shaping them up. Everything in this lively film builds to a big match that will pit the Shaolins against Hung's Evils, a team of tough young men who've even trained underwater and have been pumped up with performance-enhancing drugs from the U.S. The bruising, lengthy match in effect pits spirit against steroids.
For all its emphasis on action, "Shaolin Soccer" makes a case for character and fair play. Sing befriends Mui (Vicki Zhao), who draws upon tai chi kung fu techniques to whip up sweet buns at an outdoor stand. He's able to see beyond the scar tissue, presumably caused by fire, to the beautiful young woman beneath yet is too self-absorbed to reciprocate her affection.
A zesty entertainment, "Shaolin Soccer" has an abundance of strong kung fu action but is presented in an often comic fantasy mode that makes it appropriate for older children.
MPAA rating: PG-13, for action violence and thematic elements
Times guidelines: Typical martial arts fantasy violence; suitable for older children
Ng Man Tat...Fung
A Star Overseas and Universe Entertainment production, a Stephen Chow and Daniel Lam presentation, released by Miramax Films. Director Stephen Chow. Producer Yeung Kwok Fai. Screenplay by Stephen Chow