What Is Shaolin Soccer?

What exactly is Shaolin soccer? In the wicked game of “Shaolin Soccer,” players will stop at nothing to score a laugh. It fuses ancient martial arts with hard-hitting physical comedy and the high-flying energy of competitive soccer / football. Champion player Fung (Ng Man-tat) is so good that they call him “Golden Leg.” However, when he loses the Chinese national championship game by missing a goal, enraged fans break his legs. Shaolin soccer seems like something that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be very good at.

Twenty years later, Fung is hauling equipment for his former teammate Hung’s (Patrick Tse) “Team Evil.” When Fung is fired, he comes across Sing (Stephen Chow), a monk from the legendary Shaolin Temple with superlative martial arts skills and a “Mighty Iron Leg.” Unfortunately, in modern-day China, there is little money to be made as a monk, so Sing ekes out a meager living collecting garbage. Sing dreams of “a world gone Shaolin,” where Kung Fu is used to solve even the smallest problems. When Fung sees Sing take on a bunch of thugs with nothing but a soccer ball, he hatches the brilliant idea of forming a Shaolin soccer team.

They set out to recruit Sing’s former Shaolin classmates all are down and out but each has a special power adding to the team’s limitless potential. One has a head of iron, another bears stomach muscles able to propel the ball at warp speed, a third weighs 300 pounds but possesses the ability to walk on air, and finally the goalie who can stop any shot. Well, almost any shot.

“Shaolin Soccer” shows the game of soccer in “bullet time”, so the eye follows the action at the velocity of the ball itself. A kicked ball morphs into a fiery comet and then a flaming tiger as it races across the field. Another ball creates a vortex as it flies through the air, chewing up the field and everything in its path. Players constantly defy the laws of physics by leaping several stories and doing impossible back-flips. At one point, the impact of supersonic soccer balls blows the unlucky goalie away.

On his climb to the top, Sing meets Mui (Vicki Zhao), a homely martial arts mistress who has been reduced to making sweet buns. Her skin is so bad that flies buzz around her but her Kung Fu skills exert a powerful pull on Sing. Sing, however, is too focused on his team’s success to properly return Mui’s affection. When the Shaolin team makes it to the finals, they must battle the ferocious Team Evil. The showdown proves to be much more than the team expected. One by one, the Shaolin players fall to Team Evil’s deceitful tactics. Just when all seems lost, the Shaolin players even the score.

Also check out soccer volleyball and soccer tennis.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic sometimes seems to be playing not soccer but shaolin soccer or at least video game like soccer. How does Ibrahimovic get his leg up like that to strike the ball…I guess it’s because of his black belt in karate. He nearly scores an amazing karate kick like vollley below.