Shaolin Soccer (Siu Lam Juk Kau) (2001)

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Released 15-Mar-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 85:39
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:54) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stephen Chow
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Stephen Chow
Vicki Zhao
Man Tat Ng
Yin Tse
Sarondar Li
Yut Fei Wong
Cecilia Cheung
Karen Mok
Kar-Ying Law
Case ?
RPI ? Music Raymond Wong


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian
German
English Titling
Italian Titling
German Titling
Smoking Yes, one character chain-smokes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I wrote this review before researching the film — this is a deliberate site policy to avoid any inadvertent plagiarism. I quite enjoyed the film. So imagine my surprise to learn that there is a loud group decrying this release, calling for the lynching of the team at Miramax, and generally very angry.

    The Miramax team did two things to upset them: they hung onto the film without releasing it for well over a year (closer to two) — part of the time was spent dubbing, I suspect — and they cut the film down by almost a third.

    Here's what I wrote before reading about the controversy:

    Shaolin Soccer is a silly film, but that's not a bad thing, because it's very funny. Perhaps the closest film in terms of general feeling is The Kentucky Fried Movie. Not because of any similarity of plot, nor similarity of presentation, but just because of the feel: both films take place a long way from reality, but with the actors treating everything as serious. If that entertains you, you will probably like this film a lot. If not, you'll hate it.

    There is plenty of wire-work, and lots of martial-arts stunts, but they are taken one, or two, or maybe ten, steps beyond belief. The ideal audience for this film is one which loves martial arts films, but is willing to see them sent up. If you take your martial arts too seriously, you will be horrified by the lack of respect.

    What's the plot? I'm glad you asked. Mr Fung (Man Tat Ng), once a genius soccer player known as "Golden Leg", had his leg broken by a mob after he missed a goal. Mr Hung (Patrick Yin Tee), who was a team mate of Fung's, is now the coach of Team Evil. One day Fung meets Sing (Stephen Chow), a former Shaolin monk, and master of Steel Leg kung fu. Sing wants to promote his Shaolin kung fu, and show that it is useful to people in regular life (he gives a number of examples). After an abortive attempt to make kung fu famous by forming a band (it's horrible!), they decide to form a soccer team and compete for a big prize. Sing involves five other former Shaolin monks, all of whom were in the same monastery, each an expert in a different kind of Shaolin kung fu.

    Adding to the story is a young woman, Mui (Vickie Zhao), whom we first see using kung fu to make steamed sweet buns (this is a lovely sequence). She has all manner of ugly excrescences on her face, and has no confidence. We watch her gain confidence in parallel with the development of the soccer team. Even so, her appearance at a crucial moment looking like Lieutenant Ilia (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) is a bit of a shock.

    The more kung fu movies (and movies in general) you have seen, the more you'll enjoy this film. I was amused to see that their goalie is wearing a yellow track suit with black stripes down the sides. No, it's not a reference to Kill Bill, but to Bruce Lee's Game of Death (the movie left incomplete by his death, as documented in A Warrior's Journey). There are almost certainly references to movies that I didn't spot, but some of the references are really blatant (the water rippling in a cup while a subwoofer booms?).

    It's a shame that the English translation (dub and sub) calls the soccer team Kung Fu Soccer, despite the movie being titled Shaolin Soccer — it would have been better to have the two the same.

    There are moments in this movie that are laugh-out-loud (especially their first professional game), some that are excruciating, but the laughter outweighs the winces substantially.

    I enjoyed this version, even though I'm supposed to be outraged, appalled, and screaming for blood, because it is a desecration of the original. Sorry about that. Feel free to scream at me. If you want the uncut version, you will have to look elsewhere — this disc only contains the shorter version. On reflection, I think I'm going to be forced to hunt up the longer version — I just hope those extra 30-odd minutes are as good as the 85 I've seen so far...

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. The original theatrical aspect ratio was 1.85:1, so this is quite close.

    The picture is fairly sharp and clear. Shadow detail is limited, but adequate. Film grain isn't troubling. There is no visible low-level noise, although there is something affecting the sky in most scenes — there are no problems indoors.

    Colour is rendered well. The colour looks to have been manipulated subtly to give a different mood to some of the scenes. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are a few tiny film artefacts - basically a couple of small chips. There's no aliasing of any significance. There is no moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are subtitles in English, Italian, and German, plus English for the Hearing Impaired. I watched the English subtitles. They are easy to read, seem accurate to the English dub, and mostly well-timed to the dialogue. There is a flaw: at 12:08 the subtitle stream is corrupted, and one subtitle line displays incorrectly.

    The disc is single-sided and dual-layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 49:54, between scenes, and is essentially invisible on a fast player, and not troubling on a slow one.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English, Cantonese, Italian, and German. The English and Cantonese are both Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps — I listened to both.

    The English soundtrack is a dub, so even though some of the same actors (such as Stephen Chow) provide the voices, there is obvious audio mis-sync all the time (the original soundtrack was Cantonese). Amusingly, it almost looks deliberate: we are accustomed to mis-synced dialogue in martial arts movies, so it looks right.

    The Cantonese soundtrack is the original, so there's no obvious sync problems. The dialogue sounds fine, but I cannot judge its comprehensibility (I don't understand Cantonese).

    The music is marvellous. Raymond Wong has done a superb job of imitating many kinds of themes, including Western themes for show-down scenes, martial themes for stirring moments, and even the occasional tender love theme. This score supports the on-screen action at all times. And the ending, with the jazzed-up revised version of (Everybody was) Kung Fu Fighting is fun.

    There isn't a lot of surround sound, but when it appears, it is appropriate. The real joy is the subwoofer — it is used to great effect, and the soundtrack gives it a real workout.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras on this disc.

Menu

    The menu is static and silent — about as basic as you can get. It's easy to use, though.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc was released earlier in 2004. The big difference between the Region 1 disc and this one is that the Region 1 includes the original version of the film as well as the cut-down version.

    However, if you want the uncut version, then probably the best choice would be the Region 3 Hong Kong release, which offers the uncut film with both Dolby Digital and dts soundtracks, plus a stack of extras. There is no English dub, though, so you'll have to watch with subtitles (it does have subtitles in English). I have been unable to confirm if the menus or extras are available in English.

    Even though I enjoyed it, I cannot recommend the R4 release for anyone but those who hate to read subtitles and who think that most movies are too long.

Summary

    An entertaining film presented in reasonable condition on DVD. Unfortunately, it is a chopped-down version of a rather longer original, and that original is not on the disc. Have to drop the rating substantially for that.

    The video quality is quite good.

    The audio quality is good (despite the English being dubbed), with an excellent score and lots of subwoofer. It's funny, but this kind of martial arts film looks right in an uneven dub.

    My copy of the disc seems to be missing the extras...

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
r3 is in english - alakazak
film cut by more than a quarter, not almost a third - Anonymous
typical Miramax cock-up - Anonymous
R3 version has glitches - Misterbumpy