Kung Fu League is a title that has connotations of a movie about a league, of kung fu. Sadly, that’s not the case. Instead, what we have is a mish-mash and a hark back to the old days of really terrible CGI.
Director Jeffrey Lau (“East Meets West”, “Timeless Romance”) takes the script from first-time writer Jianhong Huang about a poor, young man, Fei Ying Xiong, Ashin (best known as the singer in the band Mayday), who makes a wish.
His wish is for the masters he keeps drawing, IP Man, Yu-Hang To (“IP Man”, “Wu Dang”), Wong Fei-hung, Wenzhuo Zhao (“God Of War“, “Once Upon A Time In China”), Chen Zhen, Kwok-Kwan Chan (“IP Man 3”, “Shaolin Soccer”) and Huo Yuan Jia, Andy On (“Blackhat”, “Zombie Fight Club”), to come and help him get the girl he loves, Bao’er, Madina Memet (“General And I (TV)”, “The Final Master”).
These men are dragged from their own times into 2018 (when the film was made). Queue a not as long or nearly as good Bill & Ted moment of four men roaming 2018 with no money or idea of what’s what.
They eventually find Fei Ying Xiong and, try as they might, they can’t get him to admit his love to Bao’er. Not to her face anyway. Another fly in the ointment is that Bao’er’s cousin, somewhat creepily, also fancies her.
Jay Chou (“The Green Hornet”, “Now You See Me 2”) wants Bao’er to himself and he puts on a martial arts competition to show her he is the best. Although he’s cheating as he’s created a suit that can learn from everyone else and then beat them.
The four enter the competition with the idea that they’ll get to the final and then let Xiong win…quite how that was going to pan out is anyone’s guess but it doesn’t happen anyway as the competition becomes a free for all.
Will the men put their differences aside and help each other, and Xiong? Will Xiong be able to learn kung-fu in such a short space of time and will he get the girl?
Kung Fu League has the feel of an eighties Japanese TV show (it’s a Hong Kong production) with acting to match. I think there’s meant to be comedy in there, but you won’t laugh, well, you will, but that will be at the appalling CGI and wirework in the fight scenes.
Every fight, from the first to the last, has an element of CGI, which is bad, and an element of slow motion, which is unnecessary, and an element of wirework, which adds to the tacky feel of the whole thing.
The story, as with the characters, is wafer thin and doesn’t stand up to any form of scrutiny or the remotest peace of thought.
The men, who in the early part of the film we see in their own time which looks like the early 1900’s, seem to have very little issue with suddenly being in 2018. It’s all fine, perfectly normal, let’s get on with it.
The action is plentiful but it’s not great. You don’t have to worry about missing anything though as Lau ensure you see every essential kick and punch, slowing them down and zooming in. Just to be safe.
Kung Fu League is a hark back to the days when anyone and everyone was churning out martial arts movies and the East was trying its best to jump on the CGI bandwagon. Thankfully, those days are behind us…or so we thought.