"Shaolin Soccer" -- an infectious knockabout kung fu comedy with amusing special effects combined with breathtaking stunts -- stars its director, Stephen Chow, as Sing, a Shaolin monk who finds so little call for his wizardly martial arts skills that he's reduced to working as a Shanghai garbage collector. Then he crosses paths with Fung (Ng Man Tat), who 20 years earlier had been China's reigning soccer star until his unscrupulous teammate Hung (Patrick Tse Yin) hired thugs to break Fung's famous "golden leg." Impressed with Sing's skills, Fung suggests he apply them to soccer; if Sing assembles a team, Fung will sign on as its coach.
Sing rounds up an unlikely and none-too-eager crew: some middle-aged guys who are out of shape and a 300-pound youth. Yet all unleash awesome gifts once Fung starts shaping them up. Everything in this lively film builds to a big match that will pit the Shaolins against Hung's Evils, a team of tough young men who've even trained underwater and have been pumped up with performance-enhancing drugs from the U.S. The bruising, lengthy match in effect pits spirit against steroids.
The movie boasts some dazzling moments, such as a ball turning into a fiery comet and then a flaming tiger and a ball whose vortex demolishes everything in its path. In the meantime the soccer players display a wide array of seemingly impossible acrobatics.