Saw it last night and loved it. It was a lot more fun than the pretty-but-pretentious Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and even better than Stephen Chow’s previous film, the hilarious Shaolin Soccer. The “musicial” fight involving the killers and their harp was one of the most creative, imaginative fight sequences I had ever seen. It really cheered me up after a horrible week, and I highly recommend it to all. I wish there had been more dancing and/or musical numbers, but that’s a minor nitpick. I have a few other concerns, but they didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie. Minor spoilers follow:
Sing (who turned out to be the big hero) was a very unsympathetic character throughout the movie – a wannabe gangster, a bully, and a coward. All it took for him was to get his ass kicked, and then not only did it unlock his body’s potential to be a true master, but he had a complete change of heart and protected Landlord and Landlady against the gang he had once desired to join. This bothered me – I guess I would like to see the unstoppable hero “earn” his powers, either through training (accomplished with a montage) or a superhero-like origin event. This also bothered me about The Matrix, where we had to accept on faith that Neo was “The One,” and how he learned all his martial arts and skills from data being downloaded into his brain in a matter of seconds, rather than through practice and experience.
But what bothered me more was how mean Sing was to the beautiful mute girl, and he never apologized to her. A scene where he sought her out seeking forgiveness, or at least a scene where she defiantly stood up to him, maybe slapping him in the face, would have made for a more complete character arc. After that, I could have accepted them falling in love, or anything else. Sing was also mean to his fat friend all the time and eventually pushed him away, and it would have been nice to see him make amends for that, before the out-of-nowhere happy ending.
I was also a little surprised by Landlady’s colossal character shift from unsympathetic emasculating bitch to concerned heroine. She forced the martial arts masters out of the neighborhood and was indirectly responsible for their deaths by not interceding, but all of a sudden she decided to stand up and fight after all. It would have been cool if she swung into action and had a change of heart a little bit sooner.
All that said, this was an awesome movie. Along with the martial arts/action fans who will probably see it anyway, I have to recommend it to anyone who likes Looney Tunes and other madcap, violent, zany cartoons of the '30s, '40s, and '50s.