Soccer star “Golden Leg” is bribed into throwing an important match and has his legs broken in retribution. Twenty years later he teams up with a young Kung Fu master to win a prestigious Soccer Tournament and revenge himself on the man responsible.
Shaolin Soccer is a witty, tongue in cheek pastiche of multiple film genres, including martial arts epics, Jackie Chan style chop socky slapstick, sports underdog films and even spaghetti westerns. This mishmash of styles and genres reminded me very much of the kind of knowing comedy Simon Pegg would make rather than the juvenile scattershot parodies of Zucker/Abrams. There’s a lot of humour in the notion that ordinary people are using Shaolin Kung Fu in everyday life and Chow cleverly uses loony tunes-style CGI and costumes to inter cut between the mundane and “epic”. The sports film formula is amusingly parodied (the villain’s team is called “Team Evil”) and the wire work during the match sequences is hilarious! Unfortunately, like Shaun Of The Dead, it is a bit of a one-idea film and it could’ve stood to lose a little flab in the middle as it runs out of steam occasionally; but only occasionally.
Shaolin Soccer is a genuinely funny film with plenty of laugh out loud moments and the combination of martial arts and football will appeal to stereotypical heterosexual men everywhere!