“Is this the police? There’s a dead granny in this house.”
And thus begins Shaolin Grandma. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I guess mailmen in Japan will just enter your house if you don’t answer them when they scream out that you have a registered letter. At least the one in this movie does, and that’s when he finds the dead granny. After calling the police, he sits down in her living room and finds a scroll written by her about her life and starts to read it. Great setup, or greatest setup ever?
The scroll tells the tale of her growing up in a Shaolin dojo which she inherited at 20-years-old when her master died. Over the years, many people tried to beat her and take over the school, but none prevailed. Honestly, that’s probably because they all seemed like they were picked off the street 20 minutes before shooting started. I’m pretty sure I know more martial arts than anyone in the movie, including granny.
The fights are funny if you’re into indulging filmmakers who don’t really know how to stage fights or pick story ideas that even make good-looking fights possible. I mean, how many 70-year-old women are there in the world who could do their own stunts?
In any case, they pretty much break down like this: a good 10 seconds of posturing by both sides (granny just standing there, moving her arms around), her opponent awkwardly hitting someone who’s supposed to be granny, and then her stunt double haphazardly flipping around. At one point, granny does a punch that blows a man’s clothes right off his back. That’s the kind of power that would be awesome if she was a 25-year-old model, and instead of her purpose being fighting, it was to have sex. On the other hand, I don’t know if I would want to mock that movie, so I think it’s better for my blog the way things actually turned out.
One day, an opponent comes along who actually has the ability to beat Shaolin Granny. Shocking, I know. I thought we were dealing with an indestructible force of geriatrics, but I was way off. So, this Hot Chick with an attitude (“Shaolin kung fu is too mundane to beat me.”) fights granny and kicks her down a flight of stairs. She apparently has the ability to spin her leg around at the speed of a helicopter blade, mesmerizing granny in the process. Then pow, right in the kisser. I would have thrown my shoe in the middle of Hot Chick’s helicopter leg, but that’s just me and my western logic. Sometimes, there’s simply nothing you can do.
I don’t really understand why, but once granny gets kicked down the flight of stairs, all of her pupils except for two of them defect to Afro Guy and Hot Girl’s side. Jeez, what a bunch of assholes. Granny stood up for their sorry asses while they got kicked around, and that’s how they repay her? She should have been beating them with kitchen utensils while yelling about not tracking mud inside instead of teaching them kung fu. Kids these days, I swear.
On a side note, I’m not sure the person playing Shaolin Granny was ever aware she was in a movie. She never even opens her mouth, and she hardly ever changes her blank expression. She’s probably the director’s grandmother or something. Maybe there weren’t any other grandmothers out there who wanted to be in this movie, so he tricked his own into pretend-fighting a bunch of idiots while he swooped his camera around. As far as I can tell, that theory is as good as any.
Then, there’s the bizarre saga of granny and her star pupils working at a nightclub, singing “Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, Shaolin!”
Every once and a while, the story cuts back to the mailman reading the scroll. It’s kind of like a macabre version of The Neverending Story, because there’s this guy who’s totally enamored with what he’s reading and can’t wait to see what happens next, only instead of skipping 4th period to hang out in the attic, he’s rifling though a dead stranger’s shit while her corpse lies on the floor next to him.
Needless to say, one thing leads to another, and Shaolin Granny finds herself living as a homeless person in a park with nothing but a gateball obsession and a new suitor. Gateball is kind of like cricket (I guess. What the fuck do I know about cricket?), but more Japanese. After meeting her in her cardboard box/home, the suitor has granny join his gateball club, and soon enough, she’s vying with his current girlfriend for his attention. It all culminates with the uppity girlfriend betting granny that she can’t beat her in a one-on-one match of gateball. If Uppity Bitch wins, granny has to get out of town. If granny wins, she gets the guy.
How does it all end? With granny shooting a fiery ball of doom at her face, which simultaneously knocks her out and gives her rabies, of course. Duh.
There’s more to the story of Shaolin Granny, but I think I’ll end with a single shot rivaling that of any other sweeping romance in the history of storytelling. Kung fu and gateball may have been the catalysts for affection, but true love is only born of fire.
p.s. Granny kicks Hot Girl’s ass and wins back her dojo. Because that was ever up for debate. She also kills the mailman. Spoilers!