Never thought soccer was a good subject for movies. And the people who made Shaolin Soccer (2001) don't think so either. That's half the humour. This film takes the piss out of how sport movies take the sport and hence themselves too seriously. Trust me, see Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday, then contrast it with Bull Durham (personal opinion: any form of seriousness in sport is too serious, except maybe Hoosiers).
The humour of equating the wisdom of soccer with the disciplines of the Shaolin monk results in a richness of irony that would justify this film in itself. But, Shaolin Soccer's lightness of touch and deft approach to endless funny soccer game situations turns this film into a very fast and anti-furious comedy of exception.
But then as if that isn't enough, this fulfills itself as a total feel good flick with all its likeable characters and charming outrageousness (the Bruce Lee impersonating goalkeeper is my favourite). And the real miracle? The whole feel-good nature doesn't feel forced or contrived or even remotely insincere. Even the feel goodness is not to be taken seriously.
Yes, the people who made this (principally writer, director, star and Hong Kong comedy legend Stephen Chow who I also praised for his take on Monkey some time back) actually did want you to feel good, not just have your money. This is not Hollywood. And just like not Hollywood, they understand the proper use of their materials. This is a special effects rich film but it's all for the fun of the movie. The marvelous miming and CGI ball play make it the best effects I've seen used for comic effect and thus the best I've seen in a comedy. And these hoopy effects, in conjunction with the execution and performance by all involved, makes this perhaps one of my favourite feel good movies.
But I strongly encourage you to not easily settle for watching the english dub but to seek out the uncut Cantonese version, cause it's the best way to get ya hoot on.