With High School Musical 3 (AKA Will Those Darn Kids Ever Graduate?) ready to hit theaters on Friday, it's clear that American teens love to watch American teens singing, dancing, and romancing. Why shouldn't Chinese teenagers have the same opportunity to admire their peers putting on a show?
Unfortunately, Kung Fu Hip Hop, which opened recently, appears to be a very poor answer. The English-language title and Variety's brief description of it as "China's first musical youth movie" conjured up images of a youthful, breezy entertainment. Would new stars be born? A closer look at the review, however, reveals the better comparison is to Breakin'. You remember Breakin', don't you? That's the 1984 movie Joe Bob Briggs said "shoulda been called 'How To Teach Stupid Honkies How To Rip Up Their Danskins and Thrive on Jive.'" Oh, my.
Kung Fu Hip Hop stars Hong Kong's Jordan Chan, who was once Young and Dangerous but is now past 40, as a rural street hawker who joins up with a DJ (Fan Bingbing, pictured in the red outfit) and his buddies from an auto garage to win a dance competition. His motive is to win enough money to pay for an operation that his sister needs. Though my preconceptions were entirely dashed, Variety still admired the flick's "dumb but fun ... shameless energy." Some reviewers across Asia agreed: "A cheesy cringe fest that still entertains" (LoveHKFilm, Hong Kong), while others were less enthusiastic: "Another movie which tries to incorporate kung fu in something else but fails miserably (Yowazzup?, Malaysia).
If you're still curious, Kung Fu Hip Hop has been released by Kam & Ronson Enterprises in a region-free DVD edition in Hong Kong and is available from reputable import DVD retailers.