Cover Art and Menu: 7/10
The cover is quite “wow”, but the it smacks of Hollywood aspirations to be a sleek glossy flick. The movie is great, but the image on the front, and some on the back are a bit misleading. I’m not sure what the alternative cover would be like, but if people see this in the store, rent or buy it based on the way the characters are portrayed they might be at best confused, at worst disappointed.
The menu doesn’t have to do much, so it’s not trying to be more than a simple place card where you choose the English or Chinese version of the movie. Functional and painfully boring, but it works.
Extras & Features: 2/10
Unfortunately the only “extra” is to be able to choose between the Chinese version with subtitles or the English dubbed version of the film. I remember the good old days when DVD’s used to give us film lovers some treats like commentaries, bloopers, etc. 🙁 The only thing I guess that can be considered an extra is that you can watch the movie in two different ways, Chinese and English dubbed. I will give them some credit for offering that choice. However, they could have tossed a few tid bits of REAL extra goodness our way..oh well!
I’m not sure if this counts as an extra, or just an advertisement, but there is an insert with the disc that will lead you to the original inspiration for the movie. Shaolin Soccer is actually a graphic novel (comic) that you can find more about at ComicsOne.com. It’s a pretty big site where you can find tons of Manga and Anime comics with free downloadable artwork and pages from their books.
The Movie: 8/10:
This is one of those, “it is what it is” movies. An action packed adventure with a heart, lots of laughs and enough interesting characters to see us through to the very end. You might wonder why I would give it an 8, quite a high number on the scale from 1-10. Well, it’s a great movie! What more can I say….except for this:
Oh those Chinese filmmakers, what a crazy bunch of folks. Mixing Shaolin Kung Fu and soccer is pure genius, or so the lead character thinks. He is a charming fellow, wandering around trying to figure out a way to spread the word that Shaolin Kung Fu can be helpful to everyone and can be useful in day to day life. He’s very enthusiastic and has a certain overacting mystique about him that is just one more thing to like about this movie. Overacting is an art in some over seas film industries. I think more eastern European, and North American audiences might have to adjust their (our) sensibilities a bit to fully appreciate their performances. Personally I have to prepare for the different styles of acting, directing, editing and overall story telling when I sit down to watch some movies that take me outside the comfort zone of good old Hollyweird. Not that I’m that attached to big flashy flicks with mega stars and big budgets, quite the opposite. I love small independent movies, medium hybrid films, and even a few of the giant block busters that roll off the assembly lines of American and British production companies’.
And then there is the REST of the world, thank goodness. Shaolin Soccer has a sharp sense of humor with the right mix of brilliant sarcasm to tickle the intellectual nodes in your brain, and enough in-your-face over-the-top slapstick bits to make even the snobbiest comedy connoisseur chuckle a time or two. With the amazing moves of our brothers 6 combined with a has-been soccer coach, who was wronged by a horrible soccer rival, we have the makings of an underdog tale of hope and maybe even triumph over evil, Team Evil that is.
It’s good vs. evil, plain and simple. A family of brothers trained in the ways of Shaolin Kung Fu are all down and out. They have lost their will to pursue a life of Kung Fu masters, and instead followed the more boring paths like the rest of the bustling population. From an overworked business man to an overweight stock boy in a grocery store, these men have all sunk to their lowest because they gave up their true calling. Their dampened spirits are revived with the one brother still faithful to their teachings comes around and invites them to play Shaolin Soccer and win a coveted championship, not to mention some cold hard cash.
Along the way they meet a young woman also trained in the ways of the Shaolin. Her life plagued by a terrible complexion, which she hides behind long dangling hair and keeps to her self as a bread baker in a small shop. She and our leading man cross paths, exchange glances, and it’s basically love at first site, or first sweet bun rather:)
There is the bad guy who is determined to win at any cost, of course. His pursuit of power and prestige may be no match for the motley crew of robe wearing soccer players.
From the special effects to the very funny dialogue this movie is a hit with me. There are so many solid laughs and entertaining moments between characters it’s a pleasure to sit back and enjoy it from start to finish. Let’s not forget all of the references to other great movies of our time. They are glaringly obvious for us movie lovers, but you might miss a few if you are not watching closely. I will give you a couple of pointers, look for a dance routine once performed by zombies in a Michael Jackson video, and a simulated combat scene that might remind you of a certain little war flick by Stephen Spielberg a few years ago. There are more but it’s up to you to find them for yourself.
As far as the language goes, I don’t mind subtitles so we watched the Chinese version. If you would rather not read while you watch a movie, just choose the English dubbed version for some of that groovy out of sync mouth action.
There is something to be said for mixing a touching story of finding your self confidence with the crazy special effects that include everything from fantastic Kung Fu/Soccer moves to insane bread making skills that defy the laws of physics. It’s not like any movie you have ever seen, I’m pretty sure I can say that with confidence.
Take my word for it, this is a fun movie I’m convinced most of you would enjoy if you just give it a chance. As good as it is I can see why some people with those closed little minds might snub it because of the language barrier or because it’s just a tad over the top compared to what they are used to, fair enough. Let’em miss out on a great movie! More Shaolin Kung Fu Soccer frenzy for the rest of us. 🙂
For just at $13.00 you can get a great flick to have on your DVD shelf. If you are a freak for extras you might want to just rent it, but finding it at your local Block Busters or Mom and Pop video store might be kind of a challenge.
Overall Score 7/10