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Shaolin Soccer

Mindless fun, Shaolin style

The premise of Shaolin Soccer would make a great answer to the movie trivia question- 'Which one of these is the plot of a real movie?': After fame and glory are stolen away by his nefarious teammate Hung, Golden Leg Fung seeks redemption by forming a soccer team of downtrodden Shaolin monks desperate to show the applications of kung fu in everyday life.

Underneath this inane premise, the story is about as complicated as a paint-by-numbers picture. The plot is really just a patchwork of recycled storylines, from the friends-turned-lovers romance to the rags-to-riches rise of the Shaolin soccer team. In fact, the most intellectually challenging aspect of this film is reading the subtitles.

Of course, none of that matters because director Stephen Chow embraces all things good about the B-movie, saturating it with silly gags and even keeping intact the tradition of saccharine Hong Kong love stories. And as mindless as it is, there really isn't a slow moment throughout. There aren't many people who ever thought to combine soccer with kung fu, and even fewer that knew it would work this well. As Americans, we may have reservations about anything even remotely related to soccer, but the graceful acrobatics of these games look nothing like the 0-0 draws that infect the pernicious world of Major League Soccer.

Stars: 3.5 out of 5