Judge Eric Profancik thinks a more appropriate title is Kung Fu Hustle: Double-Dipped Lollipop Edition.
Double-dip, my ass!
Over the years we have all succummbed to the double-dip. My top transgression is the Star Trek movies, where I bought all the single-versions and two-disc sets. In my case the reissue was warranted, for the initial releases were extra-free with mediocre transfers. But we all know that many double-dips are simply mad attempts by the studio to wring a few more bucks out of a release. Most times we see a second (or third or fourth) release when the latest sequel is about to hit theaters. That's not always the case, as with this second release of Kung Fu Hustle. (Yes, the sequel is in production, but it's at least a year away from release here in America.) Why have we been graced with this "Axe Kickin' Edition"?
The answer seems apparent, for on the packaging it states that this release contains "never-before-seen footage from the Hong Kong version." Cool! I'm a fan of this unique film from Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer), and I like the idea of new footage. So I sit back on my couch, watch all 100 minutes, and wonder where the new footage is? Outside of an instant or two—and I literally mean a second or two here and there—nothing was unfamiliar. The movie unfolded and flowed exactly as I remembered. So where's the new material? I wasn't especially motivated to pull out the first DVD because both releases run 100 minutes. I trust my memory and say that the "Axe Kickin' Edition" is the same film as previously released. If there is any new material, then it is so miniscule that it does not alter any scene in the slightest. (In fact, I doubt there's even one second of change.) Now we all have to ask, where is this "never-before-seen material from the Hong Kong version"? This assertion seems to arise from the fact that the blood that was digitally removed for the first release has been restored in this version. That, to the best of my deductive reasoning, appears to be the only difference.
Based on that alone, is it worth a double-dip? Absolutely not.
What about the transfers then? Are there any differences? No again. The video and audio are the same ones from the first release, thus still negating any reason for the double-dip.
How about packaging, disc design, menus, and the like? The package and DVD have new pictures on them—but they are lame. Seeing our hero Sing (Stephen Chow) now holding a lollipop and an axe in front of some bad photoshopping makes me savor the original cover. Same for the DVD too. For the menus, can we say the same again?
The only thing left is the bonus features, so have they changed? They have but, like the artwork, not for the better. First, just about all the original bonus material has been jettisoned, including an interesting audio commentary and a 42-minute featurette. The only thing carried over is the Rick Meyer interview. Replacing all the old material is some highly disposable and short bits:
• Comedy Central Interview (2 minutes): An honestly useless,
tongue-in-cheek faux interview with Stephen Chow that tells us nothing about the
movie or the man.
All in all, this double-dip is one of the worst (if not the worst) second releases I've ever come across. Nothing is truly gained with the new DVD, and, in fact, it's a definite step in the wrong direction.
With all that said, Kung Fu Hustle itself is an amazing, inventive, and fun movie. It combines great comedy and action with wire fu and "Looney Tunes" style to form a unique experience. While this double-dip doesn't offer any grand new incentive for owners of the first DVD, the film itself definitely warrants viewing and should be in your collection. The "Axe Kickin' Edition" does offer the blood for film purists, and that may be enough for some to "trade up." I don't see the need to do that, but there's assuredly a need for you to watch this foreign gem. You'll appreciate its irreverence, wonderful set of eclectic characters, and fresh approach to kung fu. That being the case, the movie itself is more important than the DVD so if you own neither then either version is a good choice and you can choose whichever is cheapest.
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