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Movie Title : Kung Fu Hustle
Director : Stephen Chow
Main Cast : Stephen Chow,Huang Sheng Yi
Cast : Yuen Wah, Lam Suet, Yuen Qiu, Lam Tze Chung, Chan Kwok Kwan, Dong Zhi Hua, Chiu Chi Ling
Special Guest : Leung Siu Lung, Feng Xiao Gang
Story By : Tsang Kan Cheong, Stephen Chow
Action Choreographer : Yuen Wo Ping, Sammo Hung(Additional)
Director of Photography : Poon Hang Sang
Production Designer : Oliver Wong
Eidtor : Angie Lam
Costume Designer : Shirley Chan
Composer : Raymond Wong
Producer : Chui Po Chu, Jeff Lau, David Hung
Special Effect : Centro Digital Pictures

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Set amid the chaos of pre-revolutionary China, small time thief, Sing, aspires to be one of the sophisticated and ruthless Axe Gang whose underworld activities overshadow the city. Stumbling across a crowded apartment complex aptly known as "Pig Sty Alley," Sing attempts to extort money from one of the ordinary locals, but the neighbors are not what they appear.

Sing's comical attempts at intimidation inadvertently attract the Axe Gang into the fray, setting off a chain of events that brings the two disparate worlds face-to-face.

As the inhabitants of the Pig Sty fight for their lives, the ensuing clash of kung fu titans unearths some legendary martial arts masters. Sing, despite his futile attempts, lacks the soul of a killer, and must face his own mortality in order to discover the true nature of the kung fu master.

Production Notes
In the spring of 2002, with more than 50 movies to his credit, Stephen Chow was at the peak of his career. Time Asia had just hailed him as the most beloved entertainer in Asia. Shaolin Soccer, his latest film as the star, writer, director, and producer, was a phenomenal success, breaking box office records and winning top awards all across Asia. What would he do next? For Stephen Chow, the answer to this question was simple: he would find a way to fulfill the dream he had cherished since he was a small boy - become a martial arts expert, a kung fu hero, at least onscreen. 'Of course, it's too late for me to become a real kung fu master,' jokes Chow, now in his early 40s, 'but at least I can be a Kung Fu expert in a movie - that much I can do. A martial arts hero, just like Bruce Lee.'

In contrast to the outgoing, larger-than-life characters he often plays onscreen, the offscreen Stephen Chow is a quiet, low key person who can even appear shy to those who meet him for the first time. But his eyes always sparkle whenever Bruce Lee's name is mentioned. For Chow personally, Kung Fu Hustle is a pivotal film in his career. It's both a labor of love and the fulfillment of the dreams of a boy growing up in modest circumstances in Hong Kong during the 1970s. Chow found escape and joy going to the movies and seeing the martial arts classics of that era. In those darkened theaters, the young Stephen Chow identified with the heroes and yearned to match their amazing feats.

When Barbara Robinson, Managing Director of Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia, the Hong Kong-based production unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment, approached Chow about collaborating on a project, he realized he would finally be able to achieve his dream. Chow's inspiration for Kung Fu Hustle came from memories of his boyhood moviegoing days in Hong Kong. Chow had a very humble beginning. Born to a poor family with three children - Chow has two sisters - there wasn't much extra money for entertainment. But one day, Chow's mother took him to see a movie, which Chow says was the start of a lifelong passion for him. 'I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday,' Chow says. It was a Bruce Lee film. 'We were in a very run-down theater, but I didn't mind it at all. I was simply overwhelmed by the movie experience. Watching this film in the darkness, I felt as if my heart was going to burst, and I had tears in my eyes. Bruce Lee was so incredible, not only because of his martial arts expertise, but also because of his furious spirit. He just filled the screen. He became everything to me. I decided then that I wanted to be him - I wanted to be Bruce Lee.'. 'Being a martial arts expert was really my first choice; being an actor was the second - after all, that's exactly what Bruce Lee was,' Chow says with a laugh.

Nine-year-old Stephen Chow set off on his journey of becoming Bruce Lee. He started practicing martial arts and found himself a teacher, but his family couldn't
afford to pay for his lessons so Chow went on practicing on his own. He tried to teach himself the methods from all the different schools of martial arts. Chow has some colorful memories of those days - he remembers emulating the famous scene in The Chinese Connection in which Bruce Lee destroys a sign outside a park reading 'No Dogs or Chinamen Allowed (movie: Fist of Fury).' One day at school, to the delight of the other students, Chow kicked down a sign posted on a door. Without formal training, Chow's progress as a kung fu expert was stunted - but that turned out to be a blessing for the millions who have come to love his comedic acting; Chow says the response he got as a young boy to his kung fu stunts made him want to be a performer. The idea of the little boy who wants to be a powerful hero is at the heart of Kung Fu Hustle. Chow added other touches to the film that are also reminiscent of the films that he saw growing up and the world he grew up in.

In selecting his cast and crew, Chow included many legendary figures of Hong Kong cinema. Perhaps first and foremost is action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, whose work on The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has made him one of the most respected action wizards in the world today. Yuen's career reaches back to the first classic period of Hong Kong martial arts films in the 1960s and 1970s, as does that of Sammo Hung who also participated in the film with some additional action choreography. 'When I realized that Columbia's backing gave me the ability to assemble the best creative team imaginable, I knew immediately that I wanted to work with legends like Yuen Wo Ping and Sammo Hung,' says Chow. Chow was also influenced by that same period for some of the music he selected for the film. The song sung by Fong, the mute ice cream girl (Huang Sheng Yi), is a Mandarin classic from the 1970s called 'Zhi Yao Wei Ni Huo Yi Tian' written by legendary songwriter/singer Liu Jie Chang. The song tells of a girl's unforgettable memory of someone she once loved and finds herself wanting to live for him again, even for just one day.

In casting, too, Chow made some fascinating choices, selecting several actors from the classic period of Hong Kong cinema. Yuen Wah, who plays the 'Landlord,' has appeared in hundreds of Hong Kong films over the past 30 years - and for a time was even one of Bruce Lee's stuntmen. In fact, Yuen Wah gives the film a direct connection back to Chow's Bruce Lee dreams - it's Yuen who faces Bruce Lee (and loses) in the park sign scene in The Chinese Connection.

Playing the 'Landlord's' wife, 'Landlady,' is Yuen Qiu, a star from the 1970s, who retired from filmmaking more than 20 years ago. (In addition to her many Hong Kong roles, she appeared as a Bond girl in The Man With the Golden Gun.) Chow tracked her down and begged her to come out of retirement to join his film. 'I didn't want to do it at first. My life was very comfortable, and I had just had my first grandson,' she says. But Chow wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. In preparing for the film, Yuen Qiu found that her biggest challenge wasn't recovering her martial arts skills (learned in the same Peking Opera school where Sammo Hung, Yuen Wah, Yuen Biao and Jackie Chan trained) but gaining 30 pounds in two months to give her usually slim figure the bulk appropriate to her character. She followed a diet Chow recommended which is used by Japanese sumo wrestlers to bulk up.

1970s star Leung Siu Lung plays 'The Beast,' the most fearsome fighter in Kung Fu Hustle. While his presence has not been felt onscreen since the 1980s, Leung was tagged as one of the 'Three Dragons' in the 1970s along with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan (so named because the Chinese nicknames of the trio all include the word 'Dragon'). Ironically, when Chow was younger, Leung was one of Chow's cinematic heroes. 'He has one movement that nobody else can do as beautifully as he - kicking his leg up to the sky with amazing power,' says Chow. 'In contrast to a lot of stars who can only act kung fu and assume a number of postures, Leung is a genuine kung fu master - he has had the real training. If you look at his hands, the palms and joints are covered by thick calluses that seem as hard as iron.'

Fung Hak On, playing the character 'Harpist #2' is another hero of Chow's. With his martial arts ability and experience, Fung has been seen in an impressive array of films over the past several decades. 'I watched every single movie he was in when I was a kid,' Chow says. Not everyone in the cast is a familiar face from Stephen Chow's youth. Chow also made
some original choices with regards to new talent. Having discovered the fresh-faced newcomer Huang Sheng Yi, who plays 'Fong' Sing's love interest in the film. Chow cast her in her first major motion picture role. Huang, who just recently graduated from the Beijing Film Academy, raves about her star-director, 'Stephen is incredible to work with since he is an actor himself. When he directed us, he would actually show us how to play the different emotions. His direction is invaluable to me as a newcomer.'

The central locale of the film: the lively teeming neighborhood called the 'Pig Sty' marks another way in which Chow is paying tribute to his past. The design of the crowded apartment complex is similar to the labyrinthine Hong Kong complexes Chow grew up in. 'That style of building was very common in southern China in the 1940s, which is when the film is set,' says production designer Oliver Wong. 'When Hong Kong's population exploded in the 1950s, the builders copied the building style from southern China. So what you see in the film is the type of neighborhood that most people in Hong Kong grew up in from the 1950s until the 1970s - crowded, crazy, and fun.' The setting and atmosphere of the 'Pig Sty' is directly drawn from Chow's childhood memory. 'The place I lived when I was a boy was just like that,' he says. 'It was a crowded place where everyone lived jammed in close to everyone else. Naturally you think you know everyone and everything in this neighborhood, but in fact, there was much that was unknown and hidden underneath the ordinary neighborhood life. For instance, one day out of the blue, I discovered that a neighbor of mine was in fact a martial arts master. He had been there for ages, and I always called him 'old uncle.' Even in my wildest dreams, I couldn't imagine him to be a great master, but he was.'

There's a key moment in the film which Chow had in mind from the beginning. To pay respect to Bruce Lee, Chow wanted to take his shirt off in one scene and assume one of Bruce Lee's famous postures, showing off his rippled back muscles. For weeks, besides regular martial arts training, Chow worked hard to build up the muscles on his back. In the end, he says, he finally admitted to himself one day: 'my back muscles still haven't come to a point where I am totally happy with them, but I'm taking my shirt off anyway. That day was so cold! Making films is always like this: on the coldest day, you are asked to take your clothes off; and on the hottest day, you are required to put on layers and layers of clothing!' Asked if baring his back was a ploy to attract a bigger audience, Chow laughs out loud. 'No, oh, no! I never thought about that. I don't think my upper body is nearly as attractive as Bruce Lee's!' Chow says he was very inspired by the worldwide success in recent years of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and more recently by films such as great mainland director Zhang Yi Mou's - Hero and House of Flying Daggers, also a martial arts epic. He feels these films took martial arts to a whole new level of artistic inspiration and that Hong Kong-influenced films like The Matrix have shown how the ancient beauty of martial arts can be combined with Hollywood computer special effects to create a new and refreshing style.

Producer Jeff Lau - whose experience ranges from directing and writing the type of outlandish comedies and action films that Hong Kong is known for, to producing the thoughtful art house sensations of director Wong Kar-Wai (Fallen Angels) - says that Chow has always been 'a director playing an actor' 'When he acts, he has the mindset of a director,' says Lau, who directed Chow in the hit A Chinese Odyssey. 'For each scene, he had his own ideas, and we would discuss them then I would combine them with my ideas. It was very exciting. As an actor, he is not simply playing an isolated scene, he's also thinking about the scenes that come directly before and after.

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