Director Lam Tze Chung, who played the fat monk in Shaolin Soccer, has put together an enjoyable family film that explores what happens on the pitch when social media becomes more important than scoring.
Recently the NY Times wrote about Robert Bobroczkyi, a 7’7” high school basketball player who migrated from Romania in the hopes of making it to the NBA. In researching him, I found a similar NYTimes story from 2007. The even taller 7’9” Sun Ming Ming came to the USA to learn how to play basketball.
As it turned out, Sun Ming Ming did not make it to the NBA and eventually went back to play in China. At the same time, he also became an actor, and he makes a good impression as a gentle giant of football in the comedy Funny Soccer.
In the story, team Victory FC is so bad that it has lost every game and has not even scored a goal in the entire season. The coach abandons them, and the female owner cannot pay the team’s debts, league fees, or the players. But, a down-and-out marketing guy comes up with an idea to rescue the team from insolvency.
He teaches the players how to draw attention to themselves on the field, via spectacular dives or fouls. Once a player gets the broadcast camera’s attention, he flashes a product placement in a way that is funny. The funny scene racks up millions of views in social media, and small businesses flood the team with advertising offers.
The plan goes awry when other teams start to do the same thing, and also, the captain quits out of self-respect. It all comes down to the last game of the season, when the marketer and a disabled fan persuade the team to instead try to do their best on the field.
OK, maybe that plot sounds kind of dumb, but it is well-played in a film that flows like Shaolin Soccer, but without special effects. The fouls are quite exaggerated and draw big laughs. Of course, 7’9” Sun Ming Ming uses his defensive headers to enjoyable effect. I found the film worth the time, and I look forward to watching Director Tze Chung Lam act in another football film, Soccer Killer.
In Chinese with English sub-titles
Chinese title is 笑林足球
8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8