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Kung Fu Hastle? June 30, 2005

Posted by Winter in film, reviews.
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I went to see this film, Kung Fu Hustle, on Tuesday night with my bofriend. During the film I became increasingly uncomfortable with it, even though it was a very funny, visually clever and really quite witty film. Afterwards I said this to the bf, and he seemed quite dissapointed that I hadn’t enjoyed it. With retrospect I did enjoy the the film, I do however have some problems with it.

Within the first 20 minutes we see a woman begging for her life, and being told by the head of a so called gang that he didn’t kill women, only to shoot her in the back as she ran away. Not a good start in it’s self, but what was even more alarming was that that scene seemed to get the biggest laugh of the whole film. Throughout the rest of the film we see women in characteristic weak-pretty-in-need-of-protection or fat-old-can-look-after-herself gender roles. The men, are stong and skilled, and slightly more nuanced. Why do many films continue to produce the same old tired stereotypes of women; either weak, demure and in needing of a strong man to protect them, or if they are credited with any strength or expertise they have to be old, fat and abusive (which in my mind she was niether, but was contunally refered to as fat by other characters). Maybe if we stopped feeding people these roles, they might start to imagine themselves outside of them.

I’m not a fan of overly violent films and wouldn’t normally choose to see one. This one was visually very clever and a piss take of the genre and formula as a whole, and I enjoyed it for that cleverness. It mixes skilled performances of Kung Fu with excessive amount of Tom and Jerryu cartoon violence and minimal plot giving it a feel not unreminicent of porn without the sex. It is slightly alarming that the largest laughs (from the rest of the cineama) produced by the film unfailingly came with escalation of the cartoonish violemce as people were pounded, axed and mushed, and not from some of the more subtle clever moments. I know this film deliberately plays on these stereotypes top produce the comedic effect, and it is in fact a parody of the whole genre. The fact that the characters are so neatly slotted intyo gender roles is part of the joke. My problem is that do the majority of people who see this film get it?

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1. Winter - June 30, 2005

Good stuff! I don’t think many people would get the irony. I am often horrified by the amount of masked sexism in films. Recently, I was very alarmed by ‘The Incredibles’. Like you, I enjoyed the art of it and a lot of the jokes, but I thought it was one of the most sneakily sexist things I’ve seen for a while and it’s being fed to kids. There is a really good article on the F-Word about that particular film. But you often get the “what are you on about?” response when you complain.


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