Shaolin Soccer a kick in the teeth

By Kirstin Morrell

There is a special level of Hell, reserved for the especially wicked where they are play nothing but Shaolin Soccer.

As with any review, this should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s possible there is some level to this joke I’m not getting, however, I don’t think this movie is worth watching.

The premise is sound, an ex-soccer player tries to finally achieve glory with the help of a young ex-monk who wants to bring Kung Fu to the masses. But so many parts of this movie were painful to watch. Every part with computer-generated images robbed the actors of their chance to display their real martial arts skills. The soccer scenes were beyond absurd, apparently suggesting that real soccer is so boring, no one would want to watch it. Instead they include fire, sonic booms, ridiculous wirework and far too many examples of pure hyperbole. The Ally McBeal-style dance number would have been funny if it wasn’t so completely without context. And why, oh why did they have to name the bad guys “Team Evil?”

And of course the love interest suddenly loses her skin condition in time for the end of the movie and the conflict is resolved in true deus ex machina style.

This isn’t to say there weren’t a few gems in this flick. The opposing team with odd, practically drawn-in mustaches was hilarious as were the subtle Bruce Lee references-including Sing’s haircut and the keeper’s pose with the soccer ball. There were many nods to the old-school Kung Fu movies that only those who grew up on them would catch.

One brilliant move was having elements of a previous scene persist, such as when one character quickly strips off a costume he was wearing in a just-concluded fantasy montage. However, even these moments weren’t enough to save Shaolin Soccer. It was completely predictable and combines the worst of North American and Hong Kong movie clich├ęs.

Some of you will ignore my advice and see this movie anyway. For you I have only one word of caution: if you ever want to get lucky ever again, don’t bring a date.

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