Anna Corbitt Film Appreciation Film Final November 23, 2018 A Review of Shaolin Soccer Since the beginning of the film industry, it seems that Hollywood films have dominated the movie world. Whether it’s due to lack of advertisement or reluctance, many Americans (myself included) have watched very few foreign films in their lifetimes. However, there is a plethora of films made outside of the United States that deserve recognition.
Foreign films can give audiences an insight into the culture of the country the film originates from. Even films that are not quite as serious contain a certain charm and uniqueness that isn’t found in Hollywood. Shaolin Soccer is one of those films. The plot of Shaolin Soccer takes the audience on a journey of actioned packed laughter. The story begins by introducing Golden Foot, a permanently crippled former soccer star, who dreams of redemption by coaching his own soccer team and taking down his nemesis Team Evil. Golden Foot meets the film’s financially struggling protagonist; Sing. Sing is trying to reunite his brothers and revitalize the art of Shaolin Kung Fu. The pair eventually decide to team up to accomplish their goals and ultimately create the heart of this chaotic comedy. Sing and his reluctant brothers form a soccer team with Golden Foot as the coach.
Their plan is to use their special martial art abilities to win the million-dollar soccer championship and promote Kung Fu globally. After several intense sports montages and some adversity due to Team Evil’s drug enhanced athletes and injuries, the band of Kung Fu misfits finally conquer evil. Shaolin Soccer takes the classic underdog sports story and twists it into something comedic and jam packed with action. The only thing relating this film to actual soccer is that there is ball and a goal. However, the crazy high flying Kung Fu style version of the game is what makes this movie so silly, unique, and endearing. The heart of this film makes it impossible not to smile throughout even with the predictable plot developments and occasional dumb joke.
Cinematography plays a significant role in this film. Specifically, different camera angles and movements are used to break from and intensify the action sequences. During one of the action scenes near the end of the film, one of the Shaolin soccer players gets injured. The camera quickly zooms into the concerned faces of his teammates making the scene much more intense. The film uses lighting the same way. Most of the scenes in the film are shot with very bright lighting. However, the movie occasionally uses dim lighting during flashbacks or particularly intense moments.
The movie starts off with a flashback showing how Golden Foot became crippled. It is shot in black and white with darker lighting because it is meant to represent the darkest moment of Golden Foot’s life. This scene set in the past contrasts greatly from the movie taking place in the present. These are just some of the examples of how cinematography is present. The film uses cinematography to frequently shift from a lighthearted comedic triumph to an overdramatized yet equally hilarious trial. Another factor that plays a key role in the success of this film is the acting. The dialogue of this film almost entirely consists of humor. However, the actors never make the storyline line seem like a joke. The comedy filled lines are delivered seriously and with emotion.
The actors perform well enough that the audience can easily get behind the outlandish characters and their goals. The ridiculous dialogue never gets boring or annoying because of its delivery. The chemistry between the characters is natural and does not seemed forced. The actors do a fantastic job of portraying the memorable afflictions and demeanors of their characters. The Kung Fu brothers’ strengths and weaknesses make the story more interesting, and the actors stay true to what makes each brother distinctive. It is easy to believe that Golden Foot and the Kung Fu brothers care about their goals and that they care about each other. The small amount of romance never seems forced or frustrating.
The actors’ interactions with each other make it believable. Overall the actors in this film do an amazing job of making the Kung Fu fantasy seem realistic and relatable. Auteur theory is the theory in filmmaking that the director is the major creative force behind a movie. The directing of this film is the perfect example of auteur theory. Stephen Chow is the film’s director, but he also co-wrote the script and starred in the lead role. Chow, as director, oversees the audio and visual elements of the film, but as co-screenwriter he also wrote the story. Starring as the protagonist, Sing, he can easily make sure the emotions he wrote in the script are portrayed accurately. He is certainly the undisputed creative force behind Shaolin Soccer. His directing style perfectly showcases the crazy Kung Fu scenes and the comical, yet heart felt, moments that make this film so wonderful.
With a delightful cast and near perfect set placement, it is difficult to criticize Chow’s direction of this film. Stephen Chow is a very talented actor, writer, and director. Without his creative influences the success of this film would not have been possible. Chow is a cinematic genius and his direction of Shaolin Soccer showcases this. He plays a huge role in the production of this motion picture and is definitely a major creative force. The final elements that I find to be a critical part of this film are the editing styles and visual effects. Even though this is a high-flying comedy, the pacing of the film never feels rushed. The film is fast paced throughout, but manages to slow down at the correct time for dialogue.
The cuts between scenes always seem to happen at appropriate intervals and allow for a smooth change in settings. The screen fades in during the action sequences making the scenes seem more intense. The camera zoom allows the audience to get a close view of the actors’ facial expressions and emotions. The scenes then fade out after the soccer games which creates a smooth transition between the Kung Fu and the character dialogues. Though the visual effects in the film can seem cheap and cartoonish, they only add to the film’s wild comedic value. The soccer kicks with enough velocity to create a tornado, crazy flaming backgrounds, and high flying athletes are what helps distinguish this film from other underdog sports stories. The post production of this film is crucial. Without the computer generated imagery and editing, Shaolin Soccer is dull and pointless.
Overall I found Shaolin Soccer to be a wonderfully goofy comedy. Although the audience is unable to relate to being a martial artist with super power like abilities, one can relate to the story of being an underdog with the hope of overcoming adversity and achieving the seemingly impossible. I would recommend this movie to anyone looking for a ridiculously good laugh. Shaolin Soccer is a noteworthy movie that takes the audience on an amazing roller coaster ride. The film contains an attention-grabbing plot, dynamic cinematography, outstanding acting, remarkable directing, and brilliant post production. The movie promises to make the audience laugh, and it delivers exceptionally.
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