×

Kung Pow Enter the Fist

If it falls short of doing for chopsocky cinema what "Airplane!" did for the formerly friendly skies, neither is Steve Oedekerk's "Kung Pow Enter the Fist" the unwatchable embarrassment Fox clearly thought it had when the studio delayed its release and declined to screen it for the press (the first such picture of 2002).

With:
Chosen One - Steve Oedekerk
Master Pain (Betty) - Lung Fai
Young Master Pain - Leo Lee

If it falls short of doing for chopsocky cinema what “Airplane!” did for the formerly friendly skies, neither is Steve Oedekerk’s “Kung Pow Enter the Fist” the unwatchable embarrassment Fox clearly thought it had when the studio delayed its release and declined to screen it for the press (the first such picture of 2002). As a result of this strategy, consistently silly and intermittently laugh-out-loud funny spoof will be consigned primarily to genre fans, with cult biz and possible college drinking games erupting in ancillary.

In much the same way Woody Allen re-recorded the dialogue and turned a 1964 Japanese spy movie into the egg salad intrigue epic “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?,” industrious hyphenate Oedekerk has sliced and diced the 1976 Mandarin-lingo “Tiger & Crane Fists” into an affectionate burlesque of martial arts sagas. Fresh pass at pic supplements vintage footage with newly shot sequences and the kind of surreal, biologically oriented CGI helmers have been fooling with for some time now, both in live action (the Ace Ventura and Nutty Professor franchises) and animation (“Thumb Wars” and a handful of other recent “filmettes”).

Oedekerk essays the title role of the Chosen One with a Bruce Lee-Jackie Chan bowl cut glued to his head. Following an oddly serious title card reminding auds they’re watching an old movie redubbed, prologue finds the infant Chosen One beating the crap out of Master Pain (Lung Fei). As a grown man, “Chosen,” as he’s sometimes called, must do battle with his evil nemesis, who for some reason changes his name to Betty, while protecting the dotty Master Tang (Chen Hui Lou). Along the way he’s attracted to the flighty Ling (Hsieh Ling-ling), is advised by the mono-breasted mystery warrior Whoa (Jennifer Tung) and does battle with a very angry and tenacious cow. Finale finds him victorious over the unseen Evil Council, which of course lives in France.

Per Oedekerk, new cast was supposed to speak alongside original thesps, but he had such a ball dubbing everybody that his and Tung’s voices are the only two heard — except for Chosen’s faithful dog, who obliges by barking out of sync. This helps to keep things moving, as he freely mixes a broad range of accents and textures into the mix, and even falls back on what sound like vocal exercises when all else fails.

During the course of skewering most of the genre’s tropes, the gags run the gamut from silly to the not-so-silly: There’s a brief, fake intermission, Chosen’s facial contortions result in a popped blood vessel and Betty has a habit of pounding on Master Tang while a digitally added assistant plays “U Can’t Touch This” and “Baby Got Back” on a boombox.

Tech credits are purposefully and skillfully crummy, with lenser John J. Connor’s distressed footage matching seamlessly with the original. Story actually ends at the 72-minute mark, followed by a preview of the fictitious sequel, “Kung Pow II: Tongue of Fury.” Outtakes, staged gags and behind-the-scenes bluescreen sequences run under the credits, during which a clapperboard bearing original title “The Dubbed Action Movie” can be seen.

Pic bears a 2001 copyright and thanks Jimmy Wang Yu, who helmed and starred in 1976 pic, as well as the three original leads — while clarifying that none of them had anything to do with this production.

Original film:

Tiger & Crane Fists

Hu He Shuangxing

Hong Kong-Taiwan

A First Films release of a Wong Cheuk-hon, Luk Pak-sang, Wang Feng production.

Directed by Jimmy Wang Yu; screenplay, Yi Kwan; editor, Mak Tzu-shan; camera (color), Chung Yin-chien; lighting, Tsao Hsiao-pin; martial arts choreographers, Lau Ka-wing, Jen Shih-kuan; music, Wong Mao-shan. Reviewed at State Theater, Hong Kong, Aug. 6, 1976. Running time: 90 MIN.

Chang Sheng-chiang – Jimmy Wang Yu

Lu Tien-chu – Lau Ka-wing

Also with: Lung Fei, Hsieh Ling-ling.

(Mandarin dialogue.)

Kung Pow Enter the Fist

Production: A 20th Century Fox release of an O Entertainment production. Produced by Paul Marshal, Tom Koranda, Steve Oedekerk. Co-producer, Bruce Devan. Directed, written by Steve Oedekerk.

Crew: Camera (FotoKem color, Deluxe prints; Panavision widescreen), John J. Connor; editor, Paul Marshal; music, Robert Folk; music supervisors, Jeff Carson, Frankie Pine; production designer, Hector Velez; set decorators, Veronica Baena Arellano, Pachilu Moreno; costume designer, Shawnelle Cherry; sound (Dolby/DTS), Matthew Nicolay; supervising sound editor, Michael Hilkene; animation, effects and digital color, Dubbed Visual Effects; assistant director, Douglas E. Wise; stunt coordinator/fight choreographer, Todd Bryant; second unit director, Mike Gunther; casting, Linda Francis. Reviewed at Loews Cineplex Wheaton Plaza 11, Wheaton, Md., Jan. 25, 2002. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 81 MIN.

With: Chosen One - Steve Oedekerk
Master Pain (Betty) - Lung Fai
Young Master Pain - Leo Lee

More Film

  • A woman prays at a makeshift

    Japan Expresses Its Grief Over Deadly Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

    Fellow animators and others in the Japanese entertainment industry have expressed their sorrow and solidarity with Kyoto Animation, the well-respected anime studio that suffered a horrific arson attack and the deaths of dozens of staffers. “We are all fellows in the same boat. If we continue to create without being afraid, we will find solace [...]

  • For Lineup Story

    Billie Piper's Directorial Debut, 'Rare Beasts,' to Bow in Venice Critics' Week

    “Rare Beasts,” the directorial debut of British stage and screen actress Billie Piper (“Doctor Who,” “Penny Dreadful,” “Collateral”) is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, which has unveiled its lineup of nine first works, four of them from female filmmakers. Produced by Vaughan Sivell of Western Edge Pictures in association with [...]

  • 'Mientras dure la guerra' -Rodaje Modmedia-

    Alejandro Amenabar, Ricardo Darin, Paco Cabezas Bound for San Sebastian

    MADRID  –  Alejandro Amenábar, Ricardo Darín and Paco Cabezas, director of episodes from “Peaky Blinders” and “American Gods,” look set to join Penelope Cruz, already confirmed as a Donostia Award winner, at this year’s 67th San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival. The biggest movie event in the Spanish-speaking world, this year’s San Sebastian runs Sept.20-28. Amenábar’s [...]

  • Pinewood Studios James Bond

    Netflix's Shepperton Studios Deal Is Stretching the U.K.'s Production Limits

    Netflix’s huge new hub at Shepperton Studios outside London is a further fillip for Britain’s booming production sector. Amid jitters over Brexit and its effects on the economy, the streaming giant’s commitment is a vote of confidence in the U.K. entertainment industry and a continuing source of local jobs. But the decision by Netflix to [...]

  • Bottom of the 9th

    Film Review: ‘Bottom of the 9th’

    Nearly two decades after scoring an audience award at Sundance for “Two Family House,” a smartly understated yet deeply affecting indie about a Staten Island factory worker who deeply regrets stifling his showbiz ambitions, director Raymond De Felitta steps back up to the plate with “Bottom of the 9th,” another dramatically solid and emotionally satisfying [...]

  • Endemol Shine Builds ‘The Bridge’ in

    Endemol Shine Builds ‘The Bridge’ in Africa (EXCLUSIVE)

    DURBAN–Endemol Shine Group has sold the rights to adapt its critically acclaimed and highly popular Nordic Noir detective series “The Bridge” to Cape Town-based production company Both Worlds Pictures, Variety has learned exclusively. The series will feature an all-African cast and will be set around the Beit Bridge border crossing between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Originally known [...]

  • Durban Film Fest 2019

    Durban Fest Hails Film as ‘Conscience of Our Nation’

    DURBAN–When Ros and Teddy Sarkin raised the curtain on the first Durban Intl. Film Festival 40 years ago, the odds were long that their scrappy fest would survive its inaugural edition. The apartheid government and its draconian censorship board had a stranglehold on the films that reached South African theaters, banning the sorts of subversive [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content