Now that I’ve taken a high-falutin’ film theory class, I should be able to go to a theater, watch a film like Kung Fu Hustle, and come out with all kinds of interesting insights about it, something about the economics of post-reunification Hong Kong cinema, or its use of Eisensteinian montage, or the Landlady as gaze-busting unruly woman, or… you get the idea.

So much for that. Kung Fu Hustle doesn’t inspire deep analysis so much as a feeling of sheer elation. The movie has been compared to everything from Tarantino to the Warchowskis to Chuck Jones (usually in the same review), but Stephen Chow reminds me most of, with his easy grace and wit, is Gene Kelly. Towards the end of Kung Fu Hustle, when Chow’s character gets his problems figured out and emerges from his cocoon serenely unstoppable, the fight that ensues isn’t just an ass-kicking of epic proportions, it’s as if he were dancing down a rain-slicked street, with little more than an umbrella and a lamppost to help him make the audience understand what a good day they’re having.