Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Obviously, this one was coming. Hailed by funnyman Bill Murray as “the supreme achievement of the modern age in terms of comedy,” it’s an over-the-top comedy that plays on tropes from the martial arts movies that put Hong Kong cinema on the map. A cutthroat mob called the Axe Gang runs Shanghai and a down-on-his-luck loser named Sing (Stephen Chow) and his friend make the mistake of pretending to be members of their crew. The leader Brother Sum finds out and offers Sing a chance to actually earn a place alongside him – and things go awry as they always do.
Shaolin Soccer (2001)
Shaolin Soccer is another of Chow’s films that that attracted audiences overseas. It’s also amongst the wackiest. Inspired by the anime Captain Tsubasa, a this larger-than-life kung fu soccer film follows the story of an eccentric monk named Sing (Chow) who gets roped into playing for a team. A grumpy has-been player nicknamed Golden Leg (Ng Man Tat) takes it upon himself to take Sing and his ragtag team to the championships – with a whole lot of flash.
The God of Cookery (1996)
This comedy gave Chow the title role of a chef called Stephen Chow (yes, really). When the film begins, he’s on top of the world, but he is betrayed by his apprentice Bull Tong (Vincent Kuk) and business partner (Ng Man Tat), who exposes him for the sham he is. Forced onto the streets, Stephen is redeemed by a number of cooks running street food carts whose businesses he reinvents as he slowly works his way up to reclaim his title as the God of Cookery. Best described as “MasterChef on acid”, the movie boasts one of the most over-the-top fight scenes ever, and that alone makes it worth watching.
From Beijing With Love (1994)
It isn’t quite The Spy Who Loved Me, but this crazy take on a spy film involving a giant dinosaur skull and a butcher-policeman remains one of Chow’s best. One of his earliest movies, it plays on the audience’s familiarity James Bond and completely turns every expectation on its head. It’s actually shockingly gory with the clumsy main character using a butcher’s knife indiscriminately.
King of Comedy (1999)
This is one of the few Chow films that doesn’t have any kung fu in it, but it still follows his tried-and-true wacky comedy formula. It’s about struggling actor Wan Tin Sau who begins teaching at a community center in his spare time. His students are a little more offbeat than might have been expected. Don’t expect much of it to make sense – just go along for the ride.
By Megan Hills