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Kung Fu Hustle 2: Everything We Know So Far

For years, movie fans in China have been well versed in the action-comedy movies of Stephen Chow. But while other Chinese stars like Jackie Chan and Jet Li had found stardom in America, there was once doubt that Chow's movies would find the same reception. That changed in 2004 when Kung Fu Hustle hit American theaters. The story of a poor young man pretending to be part of a gang in order to menace the residents of a Chinese ghetto became a hit with critics and fans alike.

15 years after Kung Fu Hustle gained a following in the United States came an announcement by Chow that a sequel was in the works. So far, there isn't much known for certain about what fans can expect from a Kung Fu Hustle 2, but we've done our best to piece together a few things that we know to be true.

Kung Fu Hustle director Stephen Chow will return

The original Kung Fu Hustle was written and directed by Stephen Chow, so it's not a major surprise that he'll be at the helm of the franchise's newest entry. While Chow originally made his name in his native China as an actor, making television appearances as far back as the early 1980s, he's turned his eye more toward directing in recent years. His first turn behind the camera came in 1994's From Beijing with Love, but he truly burst onto the American movie landscape with the cult classic Shaolin Soccer in 2001. 

Three years later, Kung Fu Hustle made its way into theaters, forcing American audiences to take notice of what Chinese moviegoers had known for years. The movie earned nearly universal praise from American reviewers, with the Washington Post describing it as having "Buster Keaton's gymnastic inventiveness, Sergio Leone's tough-guy posturing and the Three Stooges' antic madness." Now more than a decade later, fans are itching to see what Chow has up his sleeve next.

Kung Fu Hustle 2 will have a new storyline

Any fans expecting to see the next step in the adventures of Sing and the residents of Pig Sty Alley could be disappointed with the latest installment. While Chow definitely confirmed that Kung Fu Hustle 2 is in the works, he says that the film will be more of a "spiritual follow up" to the original. In that way, the new movie could probably be better characterized as more of a reboot than a sequel.

That news opens a lot of possibilities for what the new flick could be about. If the latest film isn't directly about Sing and his cohorts, it could still involve one of his descendants or some other residents of Pig Sty Alley. There is also a chance that we could see the return of a rebuilt and reconstituted Axe Gang, or maybe one of the other gangs that terrorized the area. Finally, it's worth asking if the new movie will even be called Kung Fu Hustle or will go by another title. Indeed, mysteries abound.

Kung Fu Hustle 2 is expected to have a modern-day setting

One thing we know for sure is that Kung Fu Hustle 2 will take place in a different timeline. In an interview with M.A.A.C., Chow said that the movie will take place in a modern-day setting. That's vastly different from the original film, which was set in the 1940s before the Chinese Communist Revolution. Of course, the depiction of life in a local city was stylized to look like something from an American gangster film of the same era (most notably the suits and hats worn by the Axe Gang). In a movie with plenty of purposely cartoonish sequences, it's hard to quibble with such creative license.

However, it does go a long way toward explaining why the new movie will be less of a direct sequel and more of a follow-up. A new time period brings with it a new set of social standards and a whole new set of bad guys (or girls).

Kung Fu Hustle 2 will be set in a foreign country

The majority of Stephen Chow's films have been set in his native China. Kung Fu Hustle was no different. But for Kung Fu Hustle 2, Chow is looking to make a major departure from the place he knows — literally. The filmmaker says that the new movie will be set in a foreign country. That expansion of horizons furthers the idea that the new movie will have just a passing connection to the original film.  

The idea that the new flick will be set in a country other than China opens up a nearly limitless array of locales. Could Chow be bringing his latest story to the shores of America? One certainly wonders. It also means that we're not likely to see many of the same characters that we came to know and love from the original Kung Fu Hustle.

Kung Fu Hustle 2 will feature "a lot of new characters"

Part of the charm of the first Kung Fu Hustle was the cast of colorful characters, many of whom were more memorable than the main character (Sing, played by Stephen Chow) himself. The nightgown-wearing, hair-in-curlers, chain-smoking Landlady (Qiu Yuen) with her perpetually foul attitude and neighborhood-razing shrieks could almost be considered the star. Alas, it's likely that we've seen the last of her.

According to Chow, "There will be a lot of new characters in the movie. We'll need a lot of new actors." That would further cement the idea that the good people of Pig Sty Alley won't be back for the sequel, but that doesn't necessarily mean the cast will be completely devoid of familiar faces. Chow has worked with recurring performers in the past. For instance, Kung Fu Hustle featured Kwok-Kwan Chan and Tze Chung Lam as holdovers from Shaolin Soccer. Fans would certainly be excited to see the return of those two — or any others — in the new movie.

Kung Fu Hustle 2 will likely feature a female lead

Characters like the Landlady and the Beast went a long way toward driving the popularity of the first Kung Fu Hustle, but in reality, the lead was Stephen Chow. In the first movie, he played the downtrodden Sing, a young man who decided the best path to prosperity was to pretend to be part of the dreaded Axe Gang and terrorize the local population. But with so many changes expected to the new story, it shouldn't be a surprise that there will be a new lead as well.

While nothing is set in stone, Chow plans on having a female lead for Kung Fu Hustle 2. Right now, though, we know little more than that. Could it be that this new character is a relative or a descendant of Sing? Could she be related to one of the Pig Sty Alley residents? Or perhaps even a rogue agent of the Axe Gang off to find fortune abroad? We'll have to wait to learn the answer.

Sing would likely be an old man

It probably goes without saying but we'll say it anyway ... if Kung Fu Hustle 2 really does take place in modern times, it would be hard for Sing to again be the lead character. After all, we're talking about more than 70 years passing between the two films. At best, Sing would be a very old man. It also means that the Landlord and Landlady have probably passed away — especially if you believed the implication from the first movie that Sing could be their son. While some of the action in the first movie seemed almost magical, it's hard to believe many of those characters would still be around.

Nonetheless, with the sequel set in a new timeline in a new country with new characters, what could possibly be the connective tissue to the first film? It hasn't been totally ruled out that Sing might appear in some form, though it's highly unlikely that this latest story will continue to follow him.

Stephen Chow will not star but will make a cameo

Not only would Sing be an old man for any movie taking place in the 21st century, but Stephen Chow would have aged as well. That's part of the reason that the director says he won't be the star of Kung Fu Hustle 2, but he did tease that he could make a cameo in the movie. At 56 years old, Chow admits that he couldn't pull off the fight scenes nearly as well anymore, but did leave open the possibility that his character could be the one getting beat up.

If Chow does shift from lead role to cameo player, he'd be part of a grand tradition of creators making brief, winking appearances in their own films. Alfred Hitchcock notoriously appeared in nearly all of his films. While Stan Lee didn't direct any of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he did make a cameo appearance in just about every movie based on the comics he co-created.

Stephen Chow's first acting role since 2008

If Chow does return to the screen for Kung Fu Hustle 2, it would end an unofficial retirement of sorts. Despite becoming a fairly prolific director, Chow hasn't had a credited acting role since 2008's CJ7 (he's listed as being in the Chinese-government-produced The Founding of a Republic, but it's unclear whether he actually appears in that 2009 film). The on-screen absence has led many fans to wonder whether Chow had decided to hang it up as a thespian.

However, in a 2016 interview, Chow said that he still has the desire to act and has just been looking for the right project. What better project to make your return to the big screen than a sequel to the film that helped launch you to international stardom? Here's to hoping we get to be reacquainted with Sing yet again... even if only for a little while.

Kung Fu Hustle 2 is expected to keep many stylistic elements

When Kung Fu Hustle 2 hits theaters, there might not be much that reminds moviegoers of the first installment. With a new time period, new location, new characters, new actors, and a completely new storyline, it's hard to see how things could connect to the original movie. In that vein, Chow says the new movie will be stylistically similar to the first. That should be music to the ears of anyone who enjoyed Kung Fu Hustle

As much as the characters popped and the storyline sizzled, the first movie also dazzled with its zany visual effects. Chow included a number of sight gags and special effects that appeared to be ripped straight from a Looney Tunes cartoon. If the new movie plans to remain faithful to the original in that respect, fans can rest easy knowing that the sequel promises plenty of visual fun.

The sequel was originally announced in 2005

Stephen Chow officially announced Kung Fu Hustle 2 in 2009, but this is far from the first time that the project has been talked about. Initially, it seemed that the sequel was set to be made in 2005, but Chow began working on multiple other projects and postponed the movie. In the years that followed, the filmmaker's attention was dedicated to projects like CJ7Journey to the West, and The Mermaid. He was also briefly attached to direct and co-star in the 2011 superhero comedy The Green Hornet (directing duties eventually went to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind helmer Michel Gondry, with his acting role as Kato being passed to Jay Chou).

In short, he's been busy. So far, Chow hasn't really elaborated on what has made him finally decided to circle back around to telling the next chapter of this story. But after more than 15 years away from the project, it would appear that the market is ready for what is coming next.

What's the release date for Kung Fu Hustle 2?

There are plenty of unknowns when it comes to Kung Fu Hustle 2 — most significantly, the release date. The announcement of the new movie was made during a promotional tour for his film The New King of Comedy, and the only indication was that he would begin work on Hustle after he finished directing the sequel for his 2016 film The Mermaid. Fans have been left to speculate as to when we could see the new movie, and some patience might be required.

Recently, Chow has been putting out movies approximately once every three years, with Journey to the West in 2013, The Mermaid in 2016 and The New King of Comedy in 2019. If that timeline were to continue, fans could expect to see The Mermaid sequel in 2022 and Kung Fu Hustle 2 sometime around 2025. Ouch. Then again, production timelines are always in flux, and we can't say for sure just how long it will take. But after waiting 15 years just to hear word of a Hustle sequel, what's a few more years?