Directed by Stephen Chow, starring Stephen Chow, Wah Yuen, Oiu Yuen, Kwok Kuen Chan and Siu Lung Leung.

Stephen Chow is the second hottest entertainer in Asia after Jackie Chan. He was the director and star of the hugely successful 'Shaolin Soccer'. Here, he does it again. 'Kung Fu Hustle' opened in China with the biggest weekend opening of all time. This is an Asian film that will make it big outside its home turf.

From the word go this martial arts epic is an experience, Chow turning the concept of a Grand Finale on its head by creating an opening that's worthy of a standing ovation. It's graphic, it's loud, it's so, so powerful and it'll have your heart racing. And that's just in the first five minutes.

A small time thief, Sing (Chow), aspires to be part of the great and notorious Axe Gang that overshadows Shanghai. In Pig Sty Alley, Sing tries to pass himself off as one of the Axe Gang so that he can extort money out of a local barber. Then the neighbours get involved. One by one the hidden talents of some of the inhabitants of Pig Sty Alley are revealed, attracting the attention of the sophisticated Axe Gang. Sing, torn between the realms of good and evil, finally discovers the true nature of a Kung Fu Master.

This is an amazing film to watch. Firstly because of the Kung Fu ability of the actors themselves - Yuen Wah, the Landlord in Pig Sty Alley, was one of Bruce Lee's stunt men for a time – and secondly because of the special effects-laden fight scenes. "In the world of Kung Fu, speed defines the winner" allows Chow to hit high levels of violence and absurdity and the result is some really, really awesome fight scenes that will make you worry that someone must have been hurt in the making of the film.

But that momentum could not possibly be maintained and so the film hits a lull, with intermittent fights and humour sustaining it before the story climaxes in the ultimate challenge. Which is  better: a powerful, shocking intro or, a gradual build to the grand finale? It's a matter of choice.

This is a bone-breaking, knuckle-cracking, muscle-clenching, slow motion, fast action Kung Fu film. And a feat in mastering visual effects and martial arts more so than anything else. Many will see it for the top class action comedy that it is, for others, the film probably pushes the limits of Kung Fu too far into fantasy. It does, but it's all in the name of fun.

Patricia O'Callaghan