Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer takes a hackneyed sports story – down-and-out underdogs band together, learn the value of teamwork and sacrifice, and triumph – and turns it into a blitzkrieg of hilarious kung fu craziness. Shaolin disciple Sing (Chow) is desperate to find a way to promote his unique martial arts technique, and finds the perfect venue when crippled former soccer star “Golden Leg” Fung (Man Tat Ng) convinces him to get on the pitch. Sing recruits his fellow Shaolin masters (all of whom have given up kung fu for mundane 9-5 jobs) to train for the national championship tournament, setting up a showdown against the Evil Team (led by Patrick Tse Yin’s Hung) that quickly erupts into a battle of insane CGI-infused athleticism. Shaolin Soccer’s special effects are modeled after hyper-stylized Japanimation shows like Dragonball Z, such as when a flaming soccer ball transmogrifies into a roaring beast and fiery backgrounds magically appear behind Sing and his superpowered cohorts. Yet the über-cheesy film’s strongest attribute is Chow, whose comedically manic direction (and performance) provides the zany, homage-laden proceedings (Game of Death, The Matrix, and Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns are all referenced) with an infectiously giddy punch.