Shaolin Soccer
April 2, 2004 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Shaolin Soccer Looks incredibly cool, but why isn't it playing in Seattle yet? And when is it coming here? I want my shaolin soccer!!!! ;-)
posted by muppetboy (53 comments total)
the subtitled version should've been on the shelves of your local asian dvd-mart for several months now. haven't seen the dubbed version yet, but the hilarious engrish subtitles of the captioned version are not to be missed.
posted by gnutron at 6:19 PM on April 2, 2004

i think i saw this movie at the asian marts YEARS ago, actually.

it's a good movie. go see it when you can.
posted by lotsofno at 6:27 PM on April 2, 2004

It's an amazing movie that's been totally mishandled by Miramax. The movie's two or three years old and has been out on DVD in Asia for a while and has a cult following here thanks to Region 0 DVDs. U.S. release has been coming for probably eighteen months or more; they announce a date, then move it back, then announce a new date and move it back... If they'd have released it during World Cup, it would have done very well here, but if they wait much longer, the effects are going to start to look old.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:28 PM on April 2, 2004

I forget who is the US distributor, but whoever it is, they are dragging their feet, and thus there are a ton of bootlegs on the market.

If content companies could profit from "niche" movies like this, there would be incentives to release them sooner. The big studios only make money on the movies that make hundreds of millions of dollars (usually) so there is little incentive for supporting this kind of film.

This system? Yes it sucks.
posted by gen at 6:29 PM on April 2, 2004

honestly, i would have thought this movie would be HUGE in the US. it's like the matrix only funny.
posted by muppetboy at 6:35 PM on April 2, 2004

Rent it at Scarecrow Video - I know they have an unedited version.
posted by Tenuki at 6:47 PM on April 2, 2004

You can download it from a torrent site.
posted by monkeyman at 7:00 PM on April 2, 2004

Or you can import a region-free DVD.
posted by infidelpants at 7:05 PM on April 2, 2004

I hear the English version has been grotesquely edited and turned into a much dumber movie than it is.
posted by abcde at 7:14 PM on April 2, 2004

I hear the English version has been grotesquely edited and turned into a much dumber movie than it is.

Uh, how is that even possible? The origional was scraping the bottom of the barrel as it was. Not that I didn't enjoy it, but it was hardly intelectual fare...
posted by delmoi at 7:28 PM on April 2, 2004

It was a huge hit here in Hong Kong.

Get the original Cantonese version with English subtitles.
posted by bwg at 7:28 PM on April 2, 2004

The English version... okay, wait... the Miramax'd version definitely dumbed down the dialogue, shifted the love story around, removed the charmingly goofy "musical" bit and bastardized the soundtrack with the insertion of generic hip-hop tracks... but with any luck, that one will never see the light of day. Instead, it is likely that the original will be released to the arthouse circuit before the end of the year.

Either way, the original is available on region-free import DVD for less than $15, so do yourself a favor and don't wait for the domestic distributor to bring it to you.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:29 PM on April 2, 2004

The reviews seem pretty positive -- I'm absolutely seeing this one over the weekend.
posted by Zonker at 7:29 PM on April 2, 2004

As was said earlier, this film has been LONG in coming. I saw trailers for it in the theater well over a year ago, maybe two, and it seems every 4 months or so it pops up again, only to disappear. Which never bodes well for a domestic film, at least.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:37 PM on April 2, 2004

Any idea why they bothered dubbing it?

Films like "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" and "Life is Beautiful" (and even "The Passion of the Christ") were financially successful subtitled films, but I can't remember any dubbed films making lots of money at the box office. The dubbed version of "Das Boot" flopped too.
posted by bobo123 at 7:38 PM on April 2, 2004

Bobo, my guess (and purely a guess) is that they hope a film like Shaolin will also appeal to kids and younger viewers, who may not be able to read quickly enough (or, come to think of it, care enough to do so if it means they might miss the effects that are the key to the advertising)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:08 PM on April 2, 2004

Shaolin Soccer is a great film, but my favorite Stephen Chow film is still God of Cookery.
posted by toddst at 8:14 PM on April 2, 2004

"removed the charmingly goofy "musical" bit"

i can't believe they removed one of the best damn scenes in the movie...
posted by lotsofno at 8:15 PM on April 2, 2004

I saw it in the theater during a really really secret free showing in Chelsea. Miramax continues to mishandle this film. Usually free showings like this will get some radio mention and there will be a line around the block of hopefuls. For Shaolin Soccer, they apparantly had an intern drop leaflets off at comic book stores. There were 30 poeple who showed up tops.

I'd been wanting to see this film for ages, and it was worth it to see it in the theater. It was brilliant. I laughed all the way through the film, and I'm not being hyperbolic.

And, happily, the version being released is the original version with subtitles. It would have been criminal to take out that musical bit.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:34 PM on April 2, 2004

I just saw this movie tonight (also in NYC) and it was subtitled. Could Miramax be distributing a dubbed version and one with subtitles? Didn't see the DVD, but from the comments above, I suspect they've retranslated it. There was nothing engrish about it. In fact they seem to have found a translator with a good sense of humor.

The movie is a mishmash of fight scenes, digital effects, and musical interludes. It's easily the funniest thing out right now.
posted by eatitlive at 8:42 PM on April 2, 2004

"removed the charmingly goofy "musical" bit"

Which "musical bit" did they take out? The Thriller spoof or the nightclub scene?
posted by SPrintF at 8:59 PM on April 2, 2004

I am dying to see this film too, having seen a preview during an Attack of the Clones screening. I get more and more frustrated as movies I've been waiting to see or buy get harder and harder to obtain through any legal means. I've been waiting for Legend of Drunken Master to come out on DVD for any region apart from North America and it only came out in 2002 as region 1 (made in 1994). The first Drunken Master movie with Jackie Chan came out in 1978 and is still only available on region 1.
posted by tracicle at 9:13 PM on April 2, 2004

I presume the version Netflix is mailing around is the inferior, "improved" Miramax edition?
posted by pzarquon at 10:05 PM on April 2, 2004

Incidentally, I was just at a Kung Fu movie and the even host went on at length about the Shaolin Soccer fiasco, right after they showed us an imported trailer.

He says Miramax bought it, cut it, edited it, dubbed it, and then did a test screening in Calgary, Alberta and decided based on the response they got to can it. Now they're considering a release of an unedited, subbed version. Anyway, from what I could tell from the preview it looked REALLY silly, but lots of fun.
posted by Evstar at 10:24 PM on April 2, 2004

Am I the only one wondering why nobody has questioned the existence of this thread? At the very least it should be in Ask Metafilter.
posted by The God Complex at 10:25 PM on April 2, 2004

Scarecrow video: aw crap I miss Seattle.
posted by photoslob at 10:39 PM on April 2, 2004

God Complex, yes I could see why one would question the existence of such a thread.

I think it is worthy to discuss the fact that Hollywood has very little faith in Asian cinema in general. They always fear that Asian stars don't have the talent or draw so they end up being paired with one-trick ponies or wanna-be hip-hop movie stars.

Miramax cut the film from 2 hours to a horrific 90 minutes, put in cheesy English dubbing and delayed the release for well over a year.

I hope Stephen Chow finds a niche in the US, but if you like this film you may enjoy renting God of Cookery and King of Comedy.

Also, if you live around the greater Los Angeles area, the original HK all-region DVD is available at A Videostore Named Desire on Santa Monica Blvd. You'll probably have to call Mike in advance and reserve it though, as it is immensely popular.
posted by superchicken at 10:45 PM on April 2, 2004

Am I the only one wondering why nobody has questioned the existence of this thread? At the very least it should be in Ask Metafilter.

It's been a long week. It's late. We're tired.
posted by eatitlive at 10:45 PM on April 2, 2004

It's not the topic that bothers me, just the lack of a meaningful link. That's all.
posted by The God Complex at 10:47 PM on April 2, 2004

thx tenuki!
posted by muppetboy at 11:10 PM on April 2, 2004

Few more links.

The latter link mentions that college kids love this movie, which is true. I would think even if this movie does moderately in the box office, the DVD sales alone from the cult following would make up for the distribution costs. I wouldn't buy the butchered English dub version though, I learned my lesson when I bought the bastardized Dimension version of Fist of Legend.
posted by superchicken at 11:14 PM on April 2, 2004

Stephen Chow introduced the English dub version at Comic-Con around two years back. It wasn't that bad, and both the "Thriller" music number and the nightclub scene were in there, so I'm not sure what grabbingsand is talking about (unless he saw a different edit, which is likely).

Anyhow, I typically get sick to my stomach when people start bitching about butchered dubs in both anime and live action films, and this is no exception. The english dub I saw managed to capture the spirit of the original just fine.
posted by jimmy at 11:57 PM on April 2, 2004

The point is that when you record oafish voices and dub them out of sync with the mouths of the actors, speaking idiotically broken English, the inability of the characters to communicate makes them comical. It's not about the character, or their story, it is about watching the funny Asian people speak like idiots. This is pandering to the worst nature of the American audience and is totally unnecessary.

There have been plenty of Asian movies and anime dubbed professionally where the voice and acting quality in the English version are as good as in the original. From the preview I saw and what I've read, this isn't one of them.

The film is hilarious with subtitles! The dialogue is very funny! The great thing about Stephen Chow is that you laugh out loud just at his timing or tone of voice. He's fantastic. Anyone who likes this film should definitely check out his other stuff.
posted by Voivod at 12:35 AM on April 3, 2004

i've seen this film in summer 2001 in china and i bought a copy on VCD (lousy quality, no subtitles). i showed it some of my friends here in europe and they were surprised that they have never heard anything about that hilarious film.

the soccer scenes are amazing and i wonder why it took so long to screen it outside asia. i'll definitely watch it in the movies.
posted by tcp at 2:09 AM on April 3, 2004

quite right, superchicken. it's certainly a cult film among college students, although [at least in my experience] the tendency is to fast forward through all of that "plot" stuff and simply watch the soccer matches...
posted by ubersturm at 2:22 AM on April 3, 2004

I love that comic, donth.
posted by spazzm at 3:50 AM on April 3, 2004

I had to check to make sure everyone here saw the same film I saw last week on television in Paris.

Now, I like a silly, brainless action movie as much as the next guy, but really: I thought it was a bad movie. Really, really throw-away. Cheesy, awful special effects and a lame ending pretty much sum it up. Of course it's not high art, but I don't think it's low art, either.

It's true I did see it dubbed in French, which is not my first language, but still, my comprehension of that language for stuff like this is better than 90 percent, so I don't think that accounted for so much of my dislike for this film. Oof.

(Although I think it was better than the new Eric Rohmer film, "Triple Agent," which had normally polite French moviegoers guffawing at the melodramatic acting, and scoffing at the weak attempt at closure.)
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:56 AM on April 3, 2004

My take on it is that it is one of those goofy films that -- if it hits you in the right moment with no expectations -- you may find utterly charming and hilarious (I did when a friend screened it on video last year at a party). If I had come to it after hearing anything about it, I might have thought "what's the fuss?"

I think the reason those of us who like it so much do is because that its frivolity seems fresh and original (of course the kung fu/sports plot is a cliche, but that's more than obvious). It has a bouyancy about it, in part because of Chow's talent, but in part because it possesses an enthusiasm for its own little world which is what sets apart so many good comedies.

Again, though, this is the sort of thing that is easy to overinflate in the describing. If you want to enjoy the film, you should probably have this thread erased from your memory.
posted by BT at 6:26 AM on April 3, 2004

Here's a Wired magazine article abot the flick, and another.
posted by Fofer at 7:49 AM on April 3, 2004

I hate English dubbed Hong Kong films - it completely ruins them, especially when the English doesn't match what the characters said in Cantonese.

I can't even find Drunken Master on DVD here in Hong Kong that hasn't been bastardised. The original soundtrack is the only way to go.

By the way, if you like Stephen Chow Sing-chi, try "King of Comedy".
posted by bwg at 9:07 AM on April 3, 2004

For a bit more information about the treatment of foreign cinema by U.S. distributors (non-comprehensive, of course), try this awkwardly-named group. Personally, I've given up on ever seeing the original version of Shaolin Soccer, though any subtitled version will be better than the dubbed version titled Kung-Fu Soccer that Miramax was going to release, but I'm looking forward very much to finally seeing the much-acclaimed Hero, which Quentin Tarantino has apparently adopted.
posted by hoboynow at 9:09 AM on April 3, 2004

Why is it forgotten that the biggest blockbuster so far this year, the one about the messiah WAS SUBTITLED?
posted by feelinglistless at 11:57 AM on April 3, 2004

Fofer - Jet Li's 'Hero' is a great film, whci to my mind it rivals Crouching Tiger.
Ong Bak is another movie worth checking out.
posted by the cuban at 1:33 PM on April 3, 2004

feelinglistless, but Passion was subtitled at Gibson's recommendation after a test audience complained. I imagine Mel had a lot of say into how loyal the dub was to the film. Do you think the directors of imported Hong Kong movies that are entering the English-speaking world years later have as much say into what is done with their films?
posted by tracicle at 1:56 PM on April 3, 2004

tracicle -- true. But the point I was making was that there is a genuine fear amongst film distributors that showing a subtitled film across more than a few cinemas is commercial suicide. And that it's a shame that they don't have the courage to show these things in their original form so that people can make up their own minds and let word of mouth do its work (provided they can't sell the shit out of the thing themselves).
posted by feelinglistless at 2:47 PM on April 3, 2004

Jet Li's 'Hero' is a great film, whci to my mind it rivals Crouching Tiger.

I'd also recommend "The Emperor and the Assassin," another movie about the first Qin emperor. It's not a kung fu flick, but it's a very interesting historical drama.

And speaking of Jet Li, apperently he plans on leaving films to focus on Buddhist studies.
posted by homunculus at 3:05 PM on April 3, 2004

it's showing here. not my thing, but the reviewer liked it.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:21 PM on April 3, 2004

Hero is very good.

Miramax really knows how to fuck up Chinese films. Hollywood seems to think that Asian films can't stand up on their own without being infused with hip hop or rewriting. Ghost Dog being the exception of mixing IMO. I can't think of a single Chinese actor or director who I've thought that their movies were better when they did it in the states.

This is why I have a region free DVD drive.
posted by Akuinnen at 9:41 PM on April 3, 2004

This movie is pretty middle-of-the-road fare as far as Stephen Chow's work is concerned. His earlier movies from the late 80's through the early 90's is absolutely classic.

That being said, Shaolin Soccer is probably his best movie in ages. That's my uncle in the movie playing the kingpin of the "evil" team. :)
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 3:22 AM on April 4, 2004

Shaolin is pretty good, especially the nightclub bit and a few others, but I agree, doesn't hold a candle to earlier work (even more recent stuff as Tricky Master).

Ling Ling Fat is classic though -- especially when he tries to arrest the legendary heroes on the roof of the forbidden city. Tricky Brains and the God of Gamblers series are both a riot, especially with subtitles..

I just wish someone would get his ass over here, get him a language coach, and team him up with Jim Carey or the like. that'd be something to see
posted by badzen at 10:59 AM on April 4, 2004

I heard a bit on PRI's "the World" on this topic Friday night. Apparently Miramax is doing a limited (4-5 cites) release of the subbed movie.

A good part of Chow/Chiu's humor is the ridiculous puns and word plays he does. IIRC Ling Ling Fat means 008, but you don't see that in the subtitles. I had to learn that from a Cantonese speaker. Chow is in some ways like the Marx Brothers. Lots of verbal banter they one can only get minutes later.

Another issue with Chiu films is a rep for singing/dancing/parody/and action all being continuous. Similar to the rep Indian films have of gun fights segueing into singing numbers. I don't think that is too much of a problem with cinemaphiles like me, but to most American audiences I can see the bean counters getting nervous.

The musical number that was cut is I belive when Chiu's character sees Zhou's character making buns. He bursts into song frightening people (take a look at the reactions of people on th street in the background). He explains that his song was an innate reaction to her oneness with kneading dough. It is short, but perfectly illustrative of the movie character.

I also wouldn't be surprised to the females with moustaches in the second game be removed. Chinese movies often play with gender bender subtext and I don't think many Americans would understand this. Take a look at Chiu's Chinese Odyssey for an example.

I always prefer subbed to dubbed. Too often subbed movies are heavily edited and the dialogue even changes. Take a look at the subbed American release of Jackie Chan's Supercop compared to dubbed version. No crappy hip hop overlays etc etc. IMHO it is important to hear the actor's voice. Dubs often lose the intensity of what is being said. Any female anime dub will show what I mean. the atrocious Miramax dub even included the phrase "wacky hijinks" in the trailer on Apple's site.

Thanks for the topic. I doubt anybody reads this comment, but having shown Shaolin Soccer to 6-7 people I have yet to find anybody not laugh their heads off.
posted by infowar at 11:44 AM on April 4, 2004

He bursts into song frightening people (take a look at the reactions of people on th street in the background). He explains that his song was an innate reaction to her oneness with kneading dough. It is short, but perfectly illustrative of the movie character.

This song was included in the version I saw in New York City over the weekend. It may have been trimmed a bit in the editing, but it was there, along with the "Thriller" spoof and the nightclub song that others have mentioned. (The movie played in one of the smaller theaters at the 42d street googolplex, but it was a full room, with every seat taken, and the whole crowd seemed to like it a lot -- I know I did.)
posted by Zonker at 12:21 PM on April 5, 2004

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