Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Laws of Physics in an Animated Film: Shaolin Soccer

When it comes to the over the top super exaggerated bigger than life films, nothing comes close to the Chinese film, Shaolin Soccer. Made in 2001 by Chinese film maker Stephen Chow, Shaolin Soccer is a film that takes us through the familiar story of a group of misfit soccer players overcoming the impossible and achieving their dream of winning the coveted  SuperCup. As crazy and fun as the theatrics are in this film, it does not shy away from breaking several laws of physics that pertain to our universe. 

When it comes to the Paths of Actions in this film, characters do not shy away from exemplifying ridiculously exaggerated paths. For example, at around the 7th minute of the film we see a Shaolin Monk slip on a banana peel. We would expect that due to the momentum of his step, the monk would fall backwards and towards the ground due to gravity. Instead, we see the monk step on the banana feel, do a summersault 5 ft. in the air and then step lightly onto several other banana peels ahead of him and land softly onto the ground. Although said actions sounds really cool, they are impossible to happened considering that in our universe gravity would have us falling ungracefully onto our behinds if we ever fell due to a banana peel. In addition, not so much later in the film around the 9 min. we see the same Shaolin Monk run and leap as he is traveling sideways in the air for what seems to be 2 seconds of hang time. Considering that gravity would allows us only to retain a certain amount of hang time if we leap in the air, the film tends to disregard that idea. The monks arc of action resembles more of a plateau than the usually parabolic arc seen in a jump. As cool as having a insane amount of hang time that would make Michael Jordan jealous, such an event is not possible due to the law of gravity.  And lastly, many insane unrealistic path of actions are seen though out the soccer game involving all the Kung Fun Brothers in the 43rd minute. At one point, a soccer player is seem running in the air upwards as if gravity was not existent and well all know that such a thing is not possible. 

Another idea that this film tends to explore is that of superhuman strength. As mush as we all hope this were possible, unfortunately reality does not allow us to. An action seen in the film involves the Shaolin monk mentioned before. Happening around the 8th min. of the film, we see the Shaolin Monk push with a single shove of his hands a wooden cart full of heavy sand bags sideways 15 ft. and in a space between two other carts.  Another example of superhuman strength is seen when the protagonist Mighty Steel Leg is in a street fight against a bunch of ruffians. As an assailant throws a soccer ball at Mighty, he turns around and kick the ball with such force that it not only hits the assailant but the ball pushes him back 20 feet. And lastly, in the same shot we see Mighty kick a soccer ball in a really cool CGI slow motion fashion that hits two assailants and sends them flipping 12 ft. in the air before hitting the ground. As much as I would hope this were true, it takes a ridiculous amount of strength to kick a ball, hit two guys, and have enough force to send them flying in the air, but hey we cannot deny that it looks really cool. 

Another interesting factor that is exaggerated in Shaolin Soccer is the notion of exaggerated actions and reactions. In one shot we see one of the main protagonist, Mighty Steel Leg, kick an aluminum coke can with one swing of his foot and sends it soaring towards an insane distance in the sky. As much as I find this really cool, i cannot see this happening because if we apply Newton’s Third Law of Motion towards such an event the possibility of it happening is very unlikely unless Mighty Steel Leg truly does have a mighty leg capable of a tremendous force. Again we find another example of exaggerated action and reaction when Mighty Steel Leg helps out a man by kicking a heavy refrigerator from the ground and up 15 ft. towards the top of a pile of refrigerators. Like mentioned before, the amount of force to achieve that reaction is not possible for our leg to achieve unless a tremendous amount of force is applied. Another awesome exaggerated reaction to an action is seen when Mighty Steel Leg is fighting in a street brawl against a bunch of ruffians. As Mighty Steel Leg goes for a side kick and suspends his foot in midair in front of a foes face, it seems that his legs moves in such a tremendous force that a gust of wind follows and engulfs the ruffian. A cannot find the way to explain this one. It seems that his foot moves with such speed and force in a low amount of space that is creates a whirlwind. Although it might not be explainable, the action adds to the overall comedic sense of the film. 

Shaolin Soccer seems to be a film that doesn't take itself to seriously. As mentioned, the film tends to over exaggerate all aspects of real world physics such as implementing the idea of superhuman strength to exaggerated actions and reactions. Although it seems silly, this film uses it that sense of unrealism to its advantage and adding to the whole comedic sense of the film. So if you are looking to watch a super ridiculous film that cares more about looking cool than following real world physics while having a good time, then look not further because Shaolin Soccer is just film. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Video Analysis of Path of Action

Above is my reference for my five jumps.

Above is my single jump with plots indicating the path of action.