Movies: A Magical Martial Romp

In Kung Fu Hustle, Asia's hottest actor-director serves up a mix of fun, fantasy and terrific action

In the 1990s, when Jackie Chan and Jet Li were the hot international news out of Hong Kong, another actor was the colony's No. 1 box-office draw. Stephen Chow's raucous comedies tickled the locals no end, but since his humor was largely verbal (a nonsense patter known as "mo-lei-tau"), few were betting that he could become a star in the West. Chow took the bet and made two action comedies--Shaolin Soccer (2001) and Kung Fu Hustle (2004)--that were huge pan-Asian hits and proved him an expert director as well as an engaging joker. With Hustle's release on 2,000 U.S. screens this...