Today I got a hold of another copy of Shaolin Soccer and decided to watch it again. Then I noticed huge differences compared to the DVD (International Version) I already had in my collection. As it turns out my new copy is the Director's Cut with an extra runtime of 25 minutes. This means that the International Version is heavily edited and cut. For an extensive report on the differences check out the following link:
Do these differences change the viewing experience? Oh yes, quite considerably. However that does not automatically mean I prefer one version over the other. Although the longer version does add some significant details and plot elements that have been skipped on. Especially when it comes to the relationship / romance between Mui (Vicki Zhao) and Sing (Stephen Chow). But the Director's Cut while emphasizing the more serious and tragic bits also has more comedic scenes that add to the fun on top of what the Internation Version already offered. Consequence is that it does slow down the pace considerably. In case you only care about the spectacle and action the longer version does seem to detract that slightly. The soundtrack in some scenes also is changed. I personally preferred the song Kung Fu Fighting from the International Version over the generic one used in the Director's Cut. It's a very good example where the soundtrack makes all the difference. The Director's Cut also has a blooper reel at the end and for me it is nice to see how the actors interact and if they are having fun or not. Because that usually translates into the movie being more fun also. And they clearly were having a blast.
Whichever version you are watching there are two things you can be certain off. You will be mesmerized by the spectacle and you will laugh out loud many times. Even people who aren't into sports or football will enjoy this. Like with most Stephen Chow comedies the humour is mostly visual and will appeal to many. I personally think that Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle are the easiest to get into in case you never have been introduced to the comedic genius that is Stephen Chow. His characters often have these special and awesome abilities yet are very clueless about everything else that matters in life. In this film for example he is completely oblivious about Mui's feelings for him and his own feelings towards her. He clearly is very attracted to her but does not realize this until very late. Another example is how he knows how others could do better and be successful but has yet to achieve success himself. It is because of these flaws that makes Sing so likable.
Do I really need to mention that Shaolin Soccer is a must watch?