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7 Movies like Kung Fu Hustle: Entertaining Cinema

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Cinema can often be praised for its realism, but it can also be celebrated for its naked escapism and its propensity for hyper versions of the world that we know. Here are some movies like Kung Fu Hustle that show just how entertaining cinema can be.

Kung Fu Hustle (Steven Chow, 2004) is a western-influenced Chinese martial arts film that has a distinctive tone and a stylised narrative. It plays out like an old gunslinger movie but its frenetic choreography, gamified narrative, and absurd plot make it a film that stands out for more than just it’s influences.

It has a simple narrative, it’s engrossing and entertaining; for fans of genre mash ups, here are some films similar to Kung Fu Hustle.

‘Shaolin Soccer’ (Steven Chow, 2004)

Football is a sport that we know well in the UK; we understand its conventions, rules, and nature. Steven Chow, however, flips all of that on its head with his collision of eastern martial arts and western sports.

Shaolin Soccer is as ridiculous and weird as Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle, but it’s also just as entertaining, fun, and pleasurable to watch.

It’s unapologetic and it navigates it’s absurdities with an infectious tone, subverting the traditional football match and turning it into something quite alien but utterly mesmerising.

Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle are two sides of the same coin; frenetic, stylised, and exciting entertainment. Chow shows that his directorial skills extend beyond just one movie.

‘The Good, The Bad, The Weird’ (Kim Jee-woon, 2009)

An overt allusion to Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, this American-infused Korean Western wears its influences for all to see. The Good, The Bad, The Weird is a journey into a very Eastern world but one that is filled with recognisable Western tropes.

This is a Hollywood blockbuster. It’s just as well-made and produced, but has its own particular brand of humour that marks this out as a new take on old traditions.

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird is good cinema if, more often than not, completely weird.

Subversive, clever, and equally dumb, Kim Jee-woon proves the adage that great artists steal, with his east meets west, The Good, The Bad, The Weird.

‘The Forbidden Kingdom’ (Rob Minkoff, 2008)

Jackie Chan and Jet Li star alongside one another in Rob Minkoff’s The Forbidden Kingdom. The narrative follows a young boy who loves martial arts films and eastern folklore and it uses the traditional tale of the Monkey King to good effect.

Our young hero finds himself transported from America to ancient China where he must join an ancient warrior sect and help them rescue their imprisoned king. It’s a traditional fish out of water tale but it does allow audiences to glimpse the differences between Asian and Western cultures.

Less comic than Chow’s work, The Forbidden Kingdom has some exhilarating fight sequences but it is let down by its slow plotting.

‘Peking Opera Blues’ (Tsui Hark, 1986)

Set in China in the tumultuous early 1900s, Peking Opera Blues is a martial arts thriller that is more grounded in where it’s from. Rather than borrowing, reusing, and creating a hyper reality for its plot to exist within, the film is a much more traditional martial arts epic.

Following numerous characters, their lives and their actions, Peking Opera Blues mixes slapstick comedy with drama to create its unique tone.

Just as stylised as Chow’s work but more dated, Peking Opera Blues is worth revisiting.

Much older than Kung Fu Hustle, Peking Opera Blues is a nostalgic reminder of how far CGI has come in the last twenty years.


If you like Kung Fu Hustle you will like…

The films mentioned above show that cinema can be subversive, funny, and above all, entertaining, when it’s unapologetic about its narrative, structure, and form.

‘The Raid: Redemption’ (Gareth Evans, 2012)

Chaotic action sequences and a tightly controlled narrative ensure that The Raid is a thrilling – if slightly claustrophobic – movie.

The Raid uses a similar style to Chow’s filmic work and it is an exciting piece of action-led cinema.

‘Black Dynamite’ (Scott Sanders, Shawn Maurer, 2010)

A modern take on 1970s blacksploitation movies, Black Dynamite is equally funny and clever.

Similar to Kung Fu Hustle in its desire to borrow and reuse, Black Dynamite is just as frenetic, but more of a homage than Chow’s reimagining.

‘Kung Fu Dunk’ (Chu Yen-ping, 2008)

Marshal arts and basketball collide in another Eastern hybrid movie.

Similar in terms of its narrative, Kung Fu Dunk isn’t quite as convincing as Kung Fu Hustle.


My Recommendation

Personally, I love watching film that originates in other cultures and it ensures that I don’t just get a Hollywoodised perspective of film and the world in general.

I would suggest watching The Good, The Bad, The Weird. Its narrative is immediately familiar to Western audiences but it cleverly subverts genre expectations and creates its own unique story in the process.

Are there any films that I missed out?

Let me know with a comment below.

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