Pow! Enter the Fist
review by Elias Savada, 25 January 2002
For the record -- which is the
only reason you should even think about seeing this sorry excuse for
a comedy -- my biggest question when I caught the first local
commercial showing (Fox didn't pre-screen the film for critics,
understandably) of Kung Pow!
Enter the Fist at a local multiplex was: What the heck are two
other people doing in the audience? It's my job to suffer such
torture as this. Sure, the year is young, but the dregs often rise
to the surface (or is it fall to the bottom?) each January, and here
is a film -- originally scheduled for release a year and a half ago
and previously known as The
Dubbed Action Movie -- aching for a wintry audience. All it will
find are cold, empty theaters and an early favorite on 2002 top ten
"worst" lists. I think I laughed. Once. Maybe not.
Steve Oedekirk, easily mistaken for
a missing Osmond sibling, bares his chest as The Chosen One and
virtually plows his way into the twenty-five-year-old Hong Kong
martial arts film Tiger and Crane Fists. Crude, lewd, and just plain stupid, this
digital sort of humorist/revisionist cinema from the man who brought
us Ace Ventura: When Nature
Calls comes off flatter than flatulence. Although Oedekirk
helped dream up the delightful Jimmy
Neutron: Boy Genius, he now tries to revisit an arena
immortalized back in 1966 by Woody Allen in What's
Up Tiger Lily? when Mr. New York Neurotic re-dubbed Toho's Kagi
no kagi with hilarious results. The writer-director-star of Kung Pow takes the darkly contrasty look of the original and blue
screens himself, a strange American in a strange land, into this
kung phooey action piece, overdubbing himself in the process and
adding in some startling new villains not available back in the
1970s. There's the gung ho baby, immortalized on Ally
McBeal, but now able to drop kick his foes with pint-sized
dashes and pabulum, pampers, and aplomb, and one mean CGI-generated
cow who needs to get her rocks off on the hero, hoofing him to a
pulp and then aiming, Matrix-style, udderly ridiculous milk bullets in his direction. Last
year's Rat Race showed no
mercy to bemused airborne bovines; now a fiercely belligerent Elsie
puts a nasty spin on who's got milk…or else!
Oedekerk is essentially a kung fu
master who can shred his enemy with the dexterity of Edward
Scissorshand, impugn their dignity with a silly "tonguey,"
a wildly unfunny face on the tip of his tongue that screams high
pitched yi-yi-yi's at his foes, and force untold, lame sight and
voice gags on the entire cast. The central baddie amongst them is
the evil Master Pain (Lung Fai), who decides halfway through the
film that he'd rather be called Betty. The lowbrow dubbing turns
friends into limp noodles or annoyingly whiny Miss Piggies,
digitally tosses butterflies down a teacher's throat (he's
appropriately called Master Tang and he could use a swallow of that
orange-flavored drink), or gives them one shape-shifting boob. The
other one made this "entertainment."
Everything about this film is
exaggerated. The purposeful lags in the English dialogue, sound
effects, talking-in-riddles, excessive zoom shots (basically
overdoing a common camera technique found in all the Chinese kung fu
films of the period), and then tossing in an over-abundance of
off-color, obviously badly-timed gags, and other mediocre
cartoon-violence extensions of what is basically a one-joke movie.
Any sense of comic credibility is non-existent.
Oedekerk creates an elusively Evil
Council that pervades the dialogue before turning this kung fu spoof
into a sci-fi farce involving a brief appearance by extraterrestrial
aliens. From France. Zut alors! This is fresh?
Also aging the film's writing
heritage is a brief appearance by a animated clone out of Disney's Lion King, talking, in a basso James Earl Jones style voice about a
circle of…stuff. "This is CNN" booms on the soundtrack,
pounding home the hint.
I don't recall ever being so
thankful when a film's end credits started to roll. Freedom!
Sunlight! Escape! Kung Pow II: Tongue of Fury is a sequel that begs to never get made.
Look no further than the original, and, please, don't even look that
far! My fortune cookie to you: "The way of Kung
Pow leads to a grimace of uncertainty."
Joon B. Kim
Woon Young Park
PG - Parental
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