Friday, February 13, 2015

Kung Pow: Enter the Fist Review

I got together with some guys a few weeks ago for a movie night. I introduced them to a personal favorite of mine that they had tragically never heard of. It is one of the weirder movies out there, caters to my particularly weird sense of humor, and is so gosh dang much fun it's hard not to like it. I am, of course, referring to the movie which now has a cult following, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002). This movie is so ridiculous that it's only going to appeal to a certain demographic of viewers who have a bizarre sense of humor.
Our hero, literally named "The Chosen One" (Steve Oedekerk), is a kung fu prodegy even from the womb, who grows up to seek vengeance on the evil, legendary Master Pain (Fei Lung) who murdered his parents. Along the way, The Chosen One is aided in his quest by the kindly, wizened Master Tang (Hui Lou Chen), Tang's student Ling (Ling Ling Tse), as well as Whoa (Jennifer Tung), a martial arts queen with a cleavage problem. The Chosen One is also called upon to employ his unique fighting styles which include, but is not limited to, "gopher chucks." He faces not only Master Pain, but a variety of wacky enemies such as the lethal lactation of a deadly, karate-chopping cow.
It's hard to describe just how ridiculous this movie is; that summary simply doesn't do it justice. As if the story wasn't weird enough, the production is pretty eccentric, too. Steve Oedekerk directs, produces, writes, and stars in the movie. Roughly half of the scenes were filmed by Oedekerk himself, the other half was stock footage from a 1976 Hong Kong martial arts movie, Tiger and Crane Fist (Savage Killers in the English dubbed version). For many of the stock footage scenes Jimmy Wang Yu, the lead actor in Tiger and Crane Fist, was digitally replaced with Oedekerk so it appears that the actor is interacting with the characters from the old movie. With the exception of a body double used for a couple of shots, the characters of Ling, Master Pain, and Master Tang were all from the old stock footage.
Furthermore, in order to replicate the notoriously poor English dubbing of old kung fu flicks, Oedekerk and other actors followed one script full of nonsense so that their lip movement would be obviously out of sync with the dubbing for Kung Pow's actual script. For example, during filming Oedekerk had to scream the line, "I'm sombody's mommy!" which was later dubbed over with Oedekerk calmly saying, "I implore you to reconsider." This really helped to lampoon old kung fu flicks while making the newly shot footage and the stock footage blend seamlessly. The dialogue in Kung Pow, highly silly as it is, sounds even sillier since Oedekerk does all the voices, except for that of Whoa.
The humor in Kung Pow is over-the-top, juvenile, occasionally a bit crude, and just so gosh darn silly! Some of The Chosen One's fighting moves defy what the human body is physically capable of. The physical gags are on par with that of Loony Tunes cartoons. The Chosen One make a pair of Nun Chucks out of gophers, he punches a perfectly circular hole through a henchman, and does pushups with no hands among many other things. There's even a brief scene where bags of Taco Bell fast food are put into a shot make it look like villagers of ancient China are eating fast food. The sheer ridiculousness of it all is what makes it so funny.
The script is so full of little gems of stupidity that make it very quotable. At one point Master Tang dismisses one of his students and says, "Pay no attention to Wimp Lo, we purposely trained him wrong... as a joke." At another point, The Chosen One is helping a mortally wounded man into town to get medical attention, the man tells The Chosen One, "Let me know if you see a Radio Shack." Moments later when the man is brought before Master Tang, Master Tang asks "Where? Where does it hurt?" The man responds by saying, "Oh, pretty much around the big bloody spot." It becomes easily as quotable as a Monty Python movie and will have you chuckling at it for days afterwards.
As I said before, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist is so ridiculous that it's only going to appeal to a certain demographic of viewers who have a bizarre sense of humor. You are completely missing the point if you try to take this movie seriously on any level. From a critical perspective, it's just inconceivably stupid. But as a delightfully funny, light movie to kick back and laugh at with friends, this movie is gold. Kung Pow has garnered a strong cult following because of its camp style and silly, over-the-top humor, and its lampooning of the traditionally poorly-overdubbed Hong Kong kung fu films, which, in itself, has a strong cult following. I highly recommend watching this movie if you can find it. I've already got a copy sitting on my shelf along with other favorites.

Here's the movie trailer to give you a better idea of what this movie is like:

What are some other cult classics you are fond of? Comment below and let me know!

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