Japan has taken over the Hong Kong franchise from Stephen Chow in this stylized off-shoot of SHAOLIN SOCCER, and like that film it’s a fun mix of comedy, kung fu action, wire-fu fantasy, intrigue, and yakuza.
Kou Shibasaki plays a small town Japanese girl sent to Hong Kong’s famous Shaolin Temple to train in kung fu – only to return and find that her former students and teacher have turned their back on the martial art. Joining a former friend (the fetching Kitty Zhang) on a high school lacrosse team, Kou winds up training the other players in martial arts, which they use to excel at the sport; meanwhile the local and clearly corrupt university president seeks Kou for some enigmatic power she has with her kung fu (the real reason she was sent off to Shaolin) and, well, the less you really try to make sense of the plot the funner the movie is.
There is some spectacular action scenes and CGI- and wire-enhanced fighting scenes, culminating in a huge brawl in a massive tower, as well as some enjoyable comic relief from a pair of kung-fu cooks working at Zhang’s family eatery. Check your brain at the door and enjoy its visual entertainment and it’s a lot of fun.