Shaolin Soccer tells the tale of how a ragged bunch of Shaolin warriors become a top football team. The film is incredibly funny and the action is kinetic and imaginative.
The movie opens with a sequence where an egotistic football player has his legs broken by an irate audience after missing a goal kick (they had invested heavily in his ability). The humbled football player ends up at the bottom of the feeding chain and leads a miserable existence.
He runs into Sing (Stephen Chow), a Shaolin warrior down on his luck, and decides that the Shaolin ability possessed by Sing and his friends would form a formidable football team. The story showcases how this motley crew slowly climb to the top and eventually showdown with an evil football team owner, who currently controls the best team in the league (the story vaguely resembles The Replacements in that regard). Sing is aided by a love interest who has her own Shaolin powers that are based on deflection and non-resistance rather than aggressiveness.
Watching this film, I was surprised at the various references to Hollywood-like sequences and movies like Jurassic Park, The Matrix (yet again), and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (albeit there's clearly some circularity here).
The pacing is frenzied. Key plot segments are explained to us in seconds (for example, how the final opposing team itself acquires Shaolin-like powers) in an effective manner. The sense of humour is innovative. One of the more hilarious gags involves a heavyset player who loves raw eggs (accompanied by some extremely funny dialogue).
I saw the Thai version of the film and couldn't understand most of the dialogue (though I did catch some funny references) but that isn't the most essential aspect of the film, neither is the adequate acting by the cast. It is the sheer energy and the humourous outlook that makes the film work. I highly recommend checking it out on the big screen.