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Stephen Chow Catch-All

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

So at Nooj's prompting I finally checked out God of Cookery yesterday, and I loved it! It's hilarious and completely gonzo. Like I mentioned on Facebook, it covers Doctor Strange's hour of training in a five-minute flashback, and the camerawork is like Sam Raimi's nightmare. Everyone just laughs and laughs the whole movie with disorienting dutch angles and sweaty closeups. I especially enjoyed how even minor characters are given so much personality and a sympathetic angle in a short amount of time. Even the ridiculous lady judge at the end of the movie becomes an endearing and desperate character in her few minutes of screentime and silly voiceover. 


This is after, however, I watched The Mermaid earlier in the year and did not enjoy that movie as much. Nooj says it's due to the lack of Chow as an actor, and that may be a factor. But mostly that movie was silly without a purpose. God of Cookery takes cooking and elevates it to kung fu, with the resulting cinematography reflecting that mindset. But The Mermaid has people sitting around in offices with the camera zooming around the room and atypical music choices that reek of trying too hard. I did like the movie, but it fell a little flat. Too many bad special effects that are lingered on too long, and too much goofy without a purpose.


I haven't seen Shaolin Soccer or Kung Fu Hustle


So what do you guys think of Stephen Chow?

post #2 of 17

My favorite HK comedian. I wonder why we don't see him act anymore?


Check out From Beijing With Love as soon as you can. It's just hilarious. 

post #3 of 17
Kung Fu Hustle was my first introduction to stephen chow, and was one of my first steps into foreign cinema. Its pretty great.

Netflick had quite a few of Chow's film so i watched God of Cookery then. Even with being experienced with Chow's sense of humor, God of Cookery is really out there.
post #4 of 17

Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle are both great. Stephen Chow's movies are practically all great.

post #5 of 17
Twin Dagger Turkey is the best.

Haven't yet seen The Mermaid but I've enjoyed all of Chow's output (directing/starring) to varying degrees. Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer are essentials.
post #6 of 17
I love Chow's JOURNEY TO THE WEST for its merging of zany slapstick comedy with earnest Buddhist spirituality.

For a Western viewer, the way it concludes is positively shocking.
post #7 of 17

Man, I love the opening of JOURNEY so much.

Kung Fu Hustle elicits tears from me now. The combo of music and old masters coming back to protect the villagers just breaks me.

Shaolin Soccer was my first Chow. Still a ton of fun. It's probably the tightest narrative, which kinda ends up making it the least gonzo despite the premise.

Definitely check those out.

Also... much love to the troupe of actors Chow brings back to his films! They're the best! Better than Wes Anderson's troupe!



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Edited by mcnooj82 - 1/1/17 at 11:09am
post #8 of 17

Don't forget Ng Man Tat!


post #9 of 17
Originally Posted by felix View Post

Don't forget Ng Man Tat!







US netflick looks to have a few Chow movies at the moment:


God of Cookery

King of Comedy

Justice, My Foot

Journey to the West

Out of the Dark


I'd never heard of Out of the Dark.  Looks like a parody of LEON!

post #10 of 17

God of Cookery.


I just couldn't help laughing at the Shaolin Temple part. Chow getting the shit kicked out of him at the 10 "Brass Men".

post #11 of 17
Originally Posted by felix View Post

 Chow getting the shit kicked out of him at the 10 "Brass Men".

over and over again!

post #12 of 17

Just rewatched JOURNEY TO THE WEST on the netflick.


Just wonderful.  Such small-scale silliness that grows into cosmic grandness as so many of Chow's films do!  And in watching it this time, I realized that the likely reason that Chow doesn't appear in his films anymore is that he has a very particular narrative that is often tailored to scrappy young men.  And in this film's case, it's a very innocent young man with only the most noble intentions (watching the film this time, I really came around to the actor in the lead role.).  I don't think Chow playing that would look right anymore... particularly when his female co-stars tend to be cast youthful.  


This was particularly notable to me after I'd watched Jackie Chan's SKIPTRACE right before this.  Not that Jackie is playing a young character in his movie, but the playfulness that Jackie generally goes for in his movies doesn't play so well when I notice how much slower Chan is in the movie's action sequences.  The spryness is understandably gone and his face shows his age.  And SKIPTRACE actually kiiiinda tries to pair him romantically with a much younger woman and it's weird (particularly since Jackie generally doesn't tack on love-interests in his movies).




Also, from the New Yorker back when JOURNEY TO THE WEST was being released:


 While Chow's movies are in some ways political (they almost always feature a rabble-rousing group of misfits taking down the fat cats), they are best watched without intellectual or moral baggage.  The enjoyment is visceral.  When you see a nascent kung-fu master fly through the air to kick a Triad in the head, you laugh because the kung-fu master is wearing a nightgown and has a cigarette dangling from her mouth, and because her kick has left a shoe-shaped indentation in the Triad's face. 
There's just not much space for reflection or allegory, as Chow's style is maximal and absurd: every plumber's crack that can be bared will be bared, every fart that can be farted will be farted, every Triad that can be kicked in the head will be kicked in the head... so much so that by the end of Chow's best movies, you feel exhausted, yet cleansed.
This sort of comedic virtuosity requires a simple structure; nearly every Stephen Chow movie is the same.
The hero, usually played by Chow, is a narcissist who has fallen on hard times.  Yet he is typically a striver, someone who makes you like him by force of ambition.  The Triads and/or fat cats usually do some awful stuff to dash his dreams.  At wit's end, with the help of a kind, impoverished woman, whom he initially spurns, and who usually works in the food-service industry, the hero sees the error of his ways.  He does better for a while, but soon is consumed by hubris.  Then, inevitably, some catastrophe occurs, and the hero is spirited away, by either a grave bodily injury or being kidnapped by a Buddhist monk.  
Just when it seems like the Triads will have their day, the hero reappears as a transformed man, dressed in ancient robes... Moses down from the mount, or, perhaps more appropriately, Goku gone Super Saiyan... to calmly, methodically, and spectacularly kick everyone's ass.
Chow's genius lies in his ability to balance ten thousand jokes with simple, effective storylines.  While the humor is often crass and seemingly random, there's an odd logic that makes even the dumbest gags seem like they're part of a greater, cohesive intelligence.  With his hectic, absurdist style, Chow draws a lot of comparisons to Tarantino (the comparison is ahistorical... Tarantino, a devotee of Hong Kong films, is indebted to Chow's early work), but the better corollary, it seems to me, is Monty Python.  Both use the same stacking of joke upon joke, the same physical comedy, the same irreverence, the same ability to take a gag way beyond its usual limits.  


And it turns out Bill Murray is a HUGE fan of Kung Fu Hustle:


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Edited by mcnooj82 - 1/16/17 at 8:35pm
post #13 of 17
I've only seen Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle and I liked them both a whole bunch. Would watch more.
post #14 of 17
Nooj, the mobile formatting on your last post is a nightmare.
post #15 of 17
Originally Posted by Agentsands77 View Post

Nooj, the mobile formatting on your last post is a nightmare.

HOLY MOLY, you're right!


I'll fix it.



ALSO, just because of fun faces:

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Edited by mcnooj82 - 1/15/17 at 3:36pm
post #16 of 17
Originally Posted by Bucho View Post

I've only seen Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle and I liked them both a whole bunch. Would watch more.

God of Cookery is GREAAAA-- um, see above.


I'm still hoping for a Chow Blu-Ray set. Someday . . .

post #17 of 17

For the longest time, I dismissed Steven Chow (I found his style of humor unappealing) but after I watched Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, something clicked, God of Cookery is indeed is masterpiece. There seems to be a theme in his films about assholes who redeem themselves.


I do remember enjoying Curry & Pepper. 

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