Review: ‘Kung Fu Kid’

A pint-size martial artist offers hijinks and high kicks in the pleasing Nipponese kidpic "Kung Fu Kid."

A pint-size martial artist offers hijinks and high kicks in the pleasing Nipponese kidpic “Kung Fu Kid.” While there may be too many kids and not enough kung fu for Asian film geeks, tyke audiences will enjoy this fun effort, featuring 8-year-old Chinese expert Zhang Zhuang. Off-the-wall but uncomplicated plot makes this a natural for kidfests. Pic is set for release in Japan early next year.

Precocious Shaolin monk Kung Fu (Zhang) is told by aging Master Pin Ko (vet Japanese actress Pinko Izumi, in a white beard) he must combat his “final opponent” to find humility. The master catapults Kung Fu, via a magic fireball, to Japan, where he literally falls in with a Tokyo family headed by a granny restaurateur (also Izumi) who uses martial-arts techniques to cook noodles. Meanwhile, dark forces have infiltrated the government’s education department and, by substituting computer-game consoles for textbooks, threaten to undermine the sweetness of daily Japanese life. Script is lightweight and sometimes clumsy, but kids won’t care. Tech package is routine.

Kung Fu Kid

Japan

Production

A Kung Fu Kid Film Partners production. (International sales: Kadokawa Pictures, Tokyo.) Produced by Toshie Tomita. Executive producer, Kazuo Kuroi. Directed by Issei Oda. Screenplay, Akitaro Daichi, based on a story by Kikumi Yamagishi.

Crew

Camera (color), Sohei Tanigawa; production designer, Hisao Inagaki. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Special Screenings), Oct. 21, 2007. Japanese, Mandarin dialogue. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Zhang Zhuang, Pinko Izumi, Mari Yaguchi, Yakkun Sakurazuka, Hiroomi Kuromonbe.

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