Shaolin Soccer (2001)

Mystical and omnipotent ‘Shaolin Soccer’ (2001)

After watching a slew of soccer movies, I reopened my Shaolin Soccer DVD. I liked it 10 years ago, but now I recognize how inventive the movie is. A group of penniless former Shaolin monks rekindle their love of kung fu by applying it to soccer.

Written and directed by Stephen Chow, the film pokes fun at soccer and kung fu while at the same time merging them into a sports fantasy that — through CGI — is graceful, mystical, and omnipotent.

Chow’s character learns accuracy, control and power by aiming his kung fu soccer kicks at a long-distance target. The Evil Team kicks balls hard enough to burn the clothes and arms of a goalie. But a female steps in to use her yin-and-yang technique to dissipate Evil’s powerful shots and help win the tournament. It’s a lot of fun to watch and really should be towards the top of any soccer movie list, for its creativity and humor.

Over-the-top violence

But caveat, I used to be a big kung fu fan, so I’m probably immune to the over-the-top violence in this movie. Another treat for me is to watch the actor Kwok-Kwan Chan, who has the strongest resemblance to Bruce Lee of any other actor I’ve seen.

The DVD comes with Chinese (Cantonese) and English theatrical versions with sub-titles. The Chinese version Siu lam juk kau has two extra scenes where characters are humiliated by bullies. It also has non-subtitled outtakes before the credits.

Update Mar-10-2020: For a kung fu soccer movie that doesn’t use CGI, see Boh Ngau. There is also the animated but lesser quality Shui Hu: The Soccer Heroes.

8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8