Hi, Mystery Recapped here. Today, I am going to explain a Chinese-language action comedy film called “Kung Fu Dunk”. Spoilers ahead! Watch out and take care!
A homeless man sleeping near a dumping site is woken up by the noise of a baby’s cry. He registers that someone has abandoned their months-old infant in the dumpster. He wants to help the child but can hardly take care of himself so he instead, brings the kid to a Kung Fu school. The master opens a book about Kung Fu that was found with the baby. He decides that the kid is going to be a great Kung Fu master in the future and accepts him as a disciple.
Fast forward five years later, little Fang Shi-jie knows everything about Kung Fu as it is the only thing he was taught since he learned to walk. The master treats him as his own son which is why he is sad about the decision he is about to take. One night, he tells Fang that if someone learns the art of Kung Fu sincerely, they can eventually learn to turn back time. He claims that he has fulfilled his purpose in life and hopes that Fang will do the same. With that being said, he freezes himself to death using an ancient Kung Fu technique. (Damn! I shouldn’t have quit Karate.) Fang can hardly understand what is going on. He runs to the master’s dead body, asking him to come back to life. That day, he learns a valuable lesson about life and death.
Cut to several years later. Fang is now a young man still working in the kung fu school. But after the master’s death, his life hasn’t been easy. He is treated as a punching bag by the new masters to teach the students of the school. Because he is an orphan, no one respects or loves him. Fang takes all the abuse he faces, thinking that he is indebted to the Kung fu school.
One morning, the headmaster calls Fang to the field to perform a new technique on him. This time, Fang wears a Shaolin iron vest under his clothes to not feel the principal’s punches. But when he is caught, the man denies him food and kicks him out for the night. With nowhere to go, Fang comes by the river and throws cans into a bin to pass time. He doesn’t miss a single shot which is surprising to an old man watching him named Wangli. The man thinks it must be easy and tries to throw one himself. Only then does he realize that Fang must have practiced for years to be that precise. When Wangli finds out that Fang is hungry, he presents him with an offer. If Fang can land a coin inside the old man’s mouth from a distance, he promises to treat him to a meal. Fang does so with zero effort, surprising Wangli even more. He then takes the kid to an expensive five-star restaurant that is way out of Fang’s budget. But it turns out that Wangli’s daughter works in the kitchen and can manage to bring food for both of them. They enjoy the meal together at the back of the restaurant.
Later, the two go to a casino and play darts. Fang lands every shot with precision which makes the owner think they are cheating. The manager of the casino, brother Hu, tries to kick them out, unaware that Fang is a trained black belt in Kung Fu. A fight ensues where Fang easily defeats all of Hu’s men. By the end of the fight, the casino is in shambles. To take revenge for the loss, the sadistic owner of the club Wang, (Seriously? Two Wangs in this movie?) finds out everything about Fang and goes to the Kung Fu school. He pays the principal a large sum of money and buys the entire place.
Then, Fang is brought in front of everyone and asked to take a beating. Because he cannot go against the principal’s orders, he takes the abuse for as long as he can. Even after that, he is kicked out of the school. In the evening, Fang goes to meet Wangli again and tells him everything that happened. Wangli has planned something for Fang and asks him if he can play basketball. Although skeptical, Fang is desperate to do anything to earn money. He tests his skills by throwing a ball to the bin several meters away with pinpoint accuracy. Wangli pulls some strings and arranges a meeting with the dean of a college whose basketball team is in need of a good player. The dean agrees to take Fang in and organizes a press conference the next day.
Being the center of attention is strange to Fang but he is happy that he is being welcomed into a new organization. Suddenly, a girl named Lily objects to his admission. She is the sister of the team captain Ting Wei and wants him to approve Fang before he is taken into the team. Ting Wei is a star player but an alcoholic. Even while drunk, he makes a slam dunk and proves his skills. Fang is given a ball and asked to do the same. He throws it from several meters away and scores. After his potential is tested, he is officially taken into the team.
That evening, Fang goes to his first practice but feels like nobody’s happy to have him on the team. After practice, he finds Ting in the car drinking in broad daylight. Fang assumes the captain is mad at him and asks him to beat him to let go of his anger. He thinks it is a plausible way to release anger because the principal used to do the same to him. Ting, however, thinks the idea is absurd. They talk for a while and discover many similarities between each other.
The following day, Ting comes to practice early, something he doesn’t do usually. Talking to Fang yesterday has resurfaced his suppressed passion for winning. Lily can almost not believe that her brother is early for once. Then, we are introduced to the best player on the team, Lan. Lily has a huge crush on him but is always pushed aside since Lan has many followers. She introduces him to Fang and the players share a brief chat.
In the following scene, their team is playing the first match of a championship. Since Fang is a new player, he is made to stay on the sidelines. For the first half of the game, the team does average. Eventually, Ting is tired and hurt. Wangli insists they let Fang replace him for the last few minutes of the game. Fang gets to play but unlike what everyone had thought, he delivers the worst performance. The team is about to lose because of his sloppiness until he scores a final basket and turns the game around. They win the game but Fang registers that he has to practice harder to be as good as the other players.
Starting that day, he trains with his teammates during the day and chains himself to a running bus at night to increase his stamina. Lily always cheers for him during practice and supports him dearly. Slowly, Fang starts falling for her. He waits for her outside her house for hours, sending her funny pictures of himself, and puts a lot of effort to impress her.
After a month of training, Fang goes to Ting, wanting to learn how to slam dunk. However, Ting thinks he should learn to walk first before he begins running. At night when no one is around, Fang practices slam dunk but hurts himself in the process. The following day is the quarter-finals of the championship. Before the game, the captain of the opposite team makes fun of Fang for being an orphan. The game begins and instantly falls on their side. They score baskets after baskets, most of which are assisted or scored by Fang. Everything goes well until he tries to score a slam dunk but instead slams himself onto the basket. Still, the team wins the game. All the matches that follow are also won by Fang and the team. He becomes the new rising player and the talk of the town.
One night, the team goes to a club to celebrate. When Fang is alone a guy from another basketball team named Li approaches him. According to Li, Fang is wasting his potential by being on the wrong team. He wants Fang to join the team of Fireball University. After offering him a business card, Li goes to meet his sponsor who happens to be the owner of the casino, Wang. It turns out that Li used to be Ting’s best friend and teammate. But he betrayed their team a day before the finals and joined the Fireball University because of Wang. This caused their team to lose the last tournament which in turn made Ting an alcoholic. The Fireball university is famous for stealing good players from other universities for their own good. That is why they want Fang so desperately. Lily is scared that Fang will also leave the team like Li but he assures her that he will never betray them.
It is then the day of the final match between Fang’s team and the Fireball University. The opponents do not play fairly and injure most of Fang’s teammates. The referee has also been corrupted by Wang, hence, no action is taken against the team. The captain and Lan have to be sent to the sidelines because of their injuries. Still, Fang single-handedly gives the opponents a hard competition. He uses his knowledge of Kung Fu to use the opposition’s game plan on them. By now, the fireball is leading eighteen to two. Suddenly, someone cuts the power supply to the arena, causing the game to be postponed.
In the following scene, Wangli and Fang are together outside the university. Fang feels like his parents were in the arena during the last match but doesn’t have a way to confirm his suspicion. Just then, the manager of the casino, brother Hu approaches them. It turns out he got into an argument with the owner, Wang, and wants to teach him a lesson. He was the one who cut the power supply in the last game. He bets 5 million Yuan on Fang and urges him to win the next half of the game.
However, since most of his teammates are injured, they are at a loss. The teachers from the Kung Fu school come to visit Fang, wishing him luck. He asks them to join the team but since their school is owned by Wang, they cannot go against him.
In the following scene, we see the star player Lan and Lily together. Lily confesses her feelings to him but Lan says he is still in love with his late girlfriend. When she is heartbroken, Fang stays by her side and promises to always be there for her. Then, the day of the final game arrives. Fang has no hope of recovering in the game since most of his teammates are not playing because of their injuries. Right before the game starts, his teachers arrive, confirming that they are willing to play with the team. The opposition retaliates but it is revealed that the teachers already did all the paperwork and are officially permitted to play.
Using many Kung Fu techniques that they have mastered over the years, they manage to give the fireball a hard time. A lady teacher uses acupuncture needles to stop the referee from stopping the game for invalid reasons. Another teacher uses an air control technique to push the ball according to his wish, meanwhile, Fang scores several baskets. When Wang sees that his team is losing, he calls his henchmen to fight the teachers. They interrupt the game and attack the rivals but are overpowered by the Kung Fu experts.
The game is halted because of the commotion. When it restarts a while later, Lan and the people who were injured in the last game also rejoin. Li is surprised as to how they recovered so soon. Lan replies that Kung Fu doesn’t only defend but also heals. Right! Now, Fang’s team is only one basket away from winning the tournament. He throws the ball perfectly in the last few seconds but the corrupt referee stops it from going into the basket. It is clearly cheating but he claims that his words are absolute.
When at his lowest, Fang remembers what his master taught him a long time ago; if one learns the art of Kung Fu sincerely, he can eventually learn to turn back time. He recalls the moves the master made before his death and mimics them. A few seconds later, everything around Fang freezes and the time goes back to five minutes earlier. (If we learned anything from the beginning of the movie, it’s that Fang is now in an alternate timeline and in the real one, he is dead inside a block of ice.) This time, when he gets the ball, he doesn’t throw it to the basket directly but passes it to Ting. In the end, he scores before the referee can stop them and the team wins the tournament.
A few days later, Fang is outside the uni, signing autographs for his fans. Right then, a woman comes looking for him and reveals that his biological father is a wealthy man. Fang meets the guy and finds out that years ago, he was being chased by a woman who wanted to kill him and Fang. Hence, to save Fang from her, he left the infant near the homeless man and flew to another country. Over the years, he made a lot of money and wants Fang to stay as his son now. The father and son reunite and walk away, leaving Wangli alone. He had treated Fang like his own son for the past couple of months which makes Wangli sad that Fang didn’t talk to him before leaving. Wangli goes to the restaurant his daughter works at, still disappointed in Fang. Suddenly, Fang appears and declares that Wangli is his father for seeing the potential in a “no one” like him. The movie ends as they decide to keep working with each other and earn a lot of money.
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