Shao Lin Popeye

  • 1994
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Children's, Comedy, Martial Arts

A lightweight, gag-filled coming-of-age comedy, this farce blatantly lifts the story line of SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, adding elements from other John Hughes productions (like HOME ALONE) and a silly subplot about a four-year-old kung-fu master. Though it's obvious from the start where the film is headed, its fast pace and softhearted approach toward unrequited...read more

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A lightweight, gag-filled coming-of-age comedy, this farce blatantly lifts the story line of SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, adding elements from other John Hughes productions (like HOME ALONE) and a silly subplot about a four-year-old kung-fu master. Though it's obvious from the start where the

film is headed, its fast pace and softhearted approach toward unrequited adolescent love make for charming, occasionally goofy, entertainment.

Teenage Pi Shi Ting (Ge-Ying Lin), nicknamed Spinach, is romantically hung up on Annie, the well-off granddaughter of his school principal. Spinach's best friend Pearl warns him that he's pursuing a hopeless cause, but the lovesick daydreamer continues to court Annie, despite physical threats from

her aggressive boyfriend Eagle, who is the son of a key school official. To settle matters, Eagle challenges Spinach to a one-on-one baseball game. Despite Eagle's victory, he still beats Spinach up over his continuing attention to Annie. In the meantime, Spinach's mother begins to suspect that

her husband is cheating on her, so she transforms his casual business trip from Hong Kong to mainland China into a full-blown family vacation. While there, Spinach's baby brother Chow Sing Chi (Shao-Wen Haw) wanders away from the family and encounters Li Lan Kit (Shiao-Long She), a four-year-old

monk who agrees to teach Sing kung fu. Spinach accompanies Sing to Kit's temple, hoping that the rigors of the martial arts will improve his self confidence. On his return to Hong Kong, Annie once again rebuffs him, even after he defeats Eagle in a second baseball face-off. Undaunted, he soon

supplies her with with a tape on which Eagle's father urges Eagle to marry her in order to facilitate a deal with Japanese businessmen that would sell the school out from under her grandfather's nose. The climactic scene pits Eagle, his crooked dad, and a gang of hoods against Spinach, Sing, and

Li Lan Kit. The ensuing confrontation sees the good guys emerge victorious, with Spinach set to make a mature romantic decision: after Annie convinces him they don't belong together, he pledges his love to Pearl, who has been pining for him from the start.

As slight as it is, the film remains watchable, precisely because it is such a shameless crib of Hughes's innately American kiddie fare. The imposition of the "baby fu" subplot renders the proceedings more properly Asian, although its eventual resolution in a slapstick, HOME ALONE vein once again

brings up the spectral influence of American pap. That said, the film still has its pleasures, including a cartoonlike opening fantasy sequence, a video-game fight scene, and the silly instances wherein the precocious kids act out various kung fu cliches. (The movie's peculiar title is a complete

non sequitur--"Popeye" is the name of Chow's pet dog.)

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  • Released: 1994
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A lightweight, gag-filled coming-of-age comedy, this farce blatantly lifts the story line of SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL, adding elements from other John Hughes productions (like HOME ALONE) and a silly subplot about a four-year-old kung-fu master. Though it's… (more)

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