8:00 PM, 2nd October, 2004
The premise is simple, the great soccer player Golden Leg Fung (Ng) gets dishonoured in the past and now is bullied by the very man who dishonoured him, Hung (Tse). Hung now owns 'Evil Team', who has won numerous soccer championships and treats the player with incredible disdain. On his strolls one day the player runs into Sing (Chow) a Shaolin monk who dreams of a world gone Kung Fu, but is forced to work as a cleaner. They team up together, with the monk's brothers, each of whom have unique Shaolin training.
They decide to put together a soccer team to rival Evil Team and teach the world the benefits of Kung Fu, and reclaim Fung's honour. Throw in a love story and you've got yourself Shaolin Soccer. The movie is funny and I found that it really drew me in. But the best sections are when the monks use their full Shaolin powers on the field. The effects are superb, with soccer "bullet time" being put to use. It doesn't tax the brain too much, but makes for a great night's viewing.
9:59 PM, 2nd October, 2004
Frank T. Hopkins (Mortensen) was the Great American Cowboy. Together with his trusty mustang Hidalgo they conquered the great endurance races of the Americas, rode dispatch for the Civil War, and starred in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. And it's all based on a true story. Or at least that's what the filmmakers would have you believe. The film is actually based on the extravagant claims in the real-life Hopkins's unpublished memoirs.
Whether fact or fiction, this movie is a sweeping story of one of the greatest endurance races - the Ocean of Fire. The race is an arduous 3000 mile trek across the deserts of the Middle East. Traditionally only open to princes of the great Arabian royal houses and their best thoroughbred horses, an invitation is extended to Hopkins and Hidalgo. During the course of the race the two must overcome the brutal hostility of the other racers and battle the harsh physical elements that claim even the best of riders. Lavishly filmed, the deserts are an idealised place full of lush oases and abandoned ruins. Watch for the scene with the giant sandstorm, as it is one of the best of the film.