Bill Murray Thought ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ Made His Directorial Debut Look ‘Like a Home Movie’

If you don’t think of Bill Murray as a director, no one will blame you. In his five decades in the entertainment industry, Murray has only logged one credit in the director’s chair. He got on the board with Quick Change, the 1990 comedy in which he starred with Geena Davis and Randy Quaid.

More than 30 years after its release, Quick Change stands as one of the more underrated films of Murray’s career. “It’s a great piece of writing,” he told GQ in 2010. “And how about the cast? You couldn’t get that cast together for all the tea in China right now. I mean, Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub…”

But while Murray continued to hold his sole directorial effort in high esteem decades later, he didn’t think it held up to the great comedies of the 21st century. Murray put Kung Fu Hustle — the film by writer-director-star Stephen Chow — at the top of that list.

Bill Murray called ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ ‘the supreme achievement’ in modern comedy

Stephen Chow strikes a kung fu pose at the premiere of 'Kung Fu Hustle.'
Director and actor Stephen Chow arrives at the the premiere of “Kung Fu Hustle” on March 29, 2005 in Hollywood. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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Speaking with GQ years after Quick Change’s ’90 premiere, Murray still hadn’t gotten over Shalhoub’s turn as an immigrant cab driver in his film. “Shalhoub gives one of the greatest comic performances I’ve ever seen!” he said.

Yet Murray couldn’t bring himself to stack Quick Change up against Chow’s award-winning 2004 film. “Unfortunately, the last time I watched [Quick Change] was right after Kung Fu Hustle, which is the supreme achievement of the modern age in terms of comedy,” Murray said.

Quick Change after it looked like a home movie,” he told GQ. “It looked like a f*cking high school film. I was like, ‘Oh man, I just saw this thing.’ And ‘God, that’s just staggering, just staggering.’ That movie is just AHHHHHH!” 

Murray could still recall the day he saw Kung Fu Hustle (at least five years prior). “When I saw that, I was like: That. Just. Happened,” he told GQ. “There should have been a day of mourning for American comedy the day that movie came out.”

Stephen Chow is reportedly working on a type of sequel to ‘Kung Fu Hustle’

Bill Murray cringes as he speaks into a microphone on stage in 2004
2004: Bill Murray speaks following screenings of ‘Quick Change’ and 3 other Murray films. | Scott Gries/Getty Images

Murray may need to call for another national day of mourning in the coming years. In 2019, several outlets reported that Chow spoke about a sequel (of sorts) to Kung Fu Hustle. And Chow confirmed as much at an event reported on by Hong Kong Apple Daily.

“It’s not exactly ‘Kung Fu Hustle 2,’ though it is the same kind of story,” Chow said at the event. Chow added that the film would take place outside of China and would be set in the present day. In that respect, the film would be more of a “spiritual follow-up” than a straight sequel.

Either way, that’s encouraging news for fans of Chow’s extraordinary brand of comedy. Murray may have mixed feelings about it, though. If Chow pulls off another film on the level of Kung Fu Hustle, he may have to avoid watching Quick Change for a while.