Kung 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."

Written and
Directed by:

Steve Oedekerk

Tad Horino
Joon B. Kim
Steve Oedekerk
Woon Young Park
Philip Tan
Jennifer Tung
Ron Yuan

PG - Parental
Guidance Suggested.
Some material may
not be suitable for






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