Hilariously over-the-top action-comedy

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Overall rating:

Score 4

Product:

Shaolin Soccer

This sports comedy spiked with special-effects steroids became Hong Kong’s all-time box-office champ when it opened in 2001, a record that still stands even now as the film belatedly arrives here. It’s taken some knocks in the intervening years, though, having had almost a half-hour removed and suffering the major indignity of an English-language dub. Still, the original spirit of star-director Stephen Chow’s crowd-pleaser remains gloriously intact. Chow?a local legend in HK?plays Sing, a Shaolin disciple reduced to hawking the virtues of his kung fu lifestyle to passers-by on the street. Hooking up with former football ace “Golden Leg” (Ng Man Tat), the pair assemble a ragtag team of players with various Shaolin skills to take on the notorious Team Evil (who, for some reason, train underwater). Even those who hate football shouldn’t be put off; there’s little regular sports action?just increasingly spectacular CGI mayhem, with body collisions and the ball turning into a thermonuclear device. Highly entertaining.