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Review by Dustin Putman
2 stars out of 4
"Kung Pow: Enter the Fist," written, directed and starring Steve Oedekerk
(1995's "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls"), may not be a completely
successful spoof of the martial arts genre, but it is spirited and
has several big laughs. Reminiscent of TV's dearly departed "Mystery
Science Theater 3000," Oedekerk has cleverly taken the obscure 1976
kung fu picture, "Savage Killers," and dubbed the original dialogue
with his own comically insane screenplay. What's more, he has digitally
inserted himself and a few other actors into the source material and
included several added scenes to create the wackiest movie you are
likely to see this year.
The story is superfluous and unimportant. Oedekerk has forgone a clearly
defined plot as a means for setting up a line of loosely related skits
that drive the laugh quotient. What we do learn is that The Chosen
One (Steve Oedekerk), as he is called, saw his parents slain as a
baby at the hands of Master Pain, also known as Betty (Lung Fai).
After being raised by rodents, the adult Chosen One sets out to avenge
his parents by going up against the sniveling Betty, all the while
falling in love with the pretty, whiny Ling (Tse Ling Ling).
The opening five minutes of "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist" are thankfully
its worst. After the misguided, even painfully unfunny and underlit,
beginning setpiece in which the infant Chosen One attacks his parents'
killers, the film gradually finds its footing. The peculiar idea of
redubbing and digitally changing an older movie takes some getting
used to, but once you get into the groove of things, a parade of surprisingly
funny moments arrive.
The squealing, daffy Ling (played by Tse Ling Ling in the 1976 film,
and redubbed by Oedekerk himself) is easily the most entertaining
and wacky character, and whenever she is onscreen, the film is hilarious.
A new sequence, in which The Chosen One goes up against a kung fu
cow, is another inspired bit of lunacy, but this umpteenth lampooning
of 1999's "The Matrix" is a lazy one.
Steve Oedekerk deserves major credit for taking on such an oddball
project and, for the most part, making it work. At 82 minutes, "Kung
Pow: Enter the Fist" does not wear out its welcome like most spoofs
do, but it also fails to achieve anything other than being "kind of
funny, but very stupid." As is the case with the genre, the ratio
of hits to misses on the laugh meter favor the latter, but there are
enough good jokes to make it an enjoyable, if unproductive, time at the movies.
Copyright © 2002 Dustin Putman