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  Kung Pow: Enter The Fist Chop Socky
Year: 2002
Director: Steve Oederkerk
Stars: Steve Oederkerk, Fei Lung, Ling Ling Tse, Leo Lee, Hui Lou Chen, Chi Ma, Jennifer Tung, Lo Ming, Peggy Lu, Tad Horino
Genre: Comedy, Martial ArtsBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 4 votes)
Review: One night in China a family is interrupted by a knock at the door - to their horror it is Mister Pain, who proceeds to murder the husband and wife and then sets his sights on their baby. The baby is the Chosen One, and when Mr Pain tries to slay him, the baby beats him up with his Kung Fu moves. Undaunted, Mr Pain traps the child inside the house and sets fire to it, and walks away safe in the knowledge that the threat is over. However, the baby escapes and grows up to be an expert fighter (Steve Oederkerk), wandering the wilderness until he has found his adversary and taken his revenge...

A year before Kill Bill: Volume 1 arrived, there was another Hollywood film heavily influenced by martial arts movies of the previous decades. Scripted by director and star Oederkerk, it took the concept of What's Up Tiger Lily? a few steps further, and not only redubbed an old movie, in this case a Jimmy Wang Yu adventure called Crane & Tiger Fist, but recut it, and added in new scenes. That's not all, because by using computer technology Oederkerk and others were placed into the action to interact with actors from over twenty years earlier; kind of like Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid only more advanced.

What isn't more advanced is the humour, which is quite content to settle for crudity and crassness where wit fails. The conventions of the genre are sent up affectionately, with terrible dubbing (courtesy of Oedekerk), overuse of the zoom lens, martial arts schools and competitions, revenge plotting, and of course the endless fight scenes at every opportunity. It's not simply idiotic, though, in many places the jokes are nothing short of bizarre, and may leave you puzzled instead of amused.

The new dialogue is consistently silly, with lines such as "Now he's dead - except for his hair and nails,", and when invention lets Oederkerk down the characters make funny noises ("Weewooweeewooo!"). There may be enough inspired gags to make this worthwhile, like the weapon made from gophers or the extensive beating Mr Pain, aka Betty, takes to demonstrate his invincibility, and the spoofs are fairly clever (for example, of The Matrix and, best of all, The Lion King), but as I say, there's a lot that is plain weird.

For no reason a superheroine makes a dramatic appearance, and she only has one enormous breast in the middle of her chest. Then there's the lengthy fight scene between the Chosen One and a dairy cow, complete with spurting milk. The humour can be best summed up by one early joke which has a peasant woman catching the baby as it rolls down a hill, cooing at it, then setting it off rolling down the hill again. Daft, you see? Kung Pow is short, so it doesn't grow tedious, but it's essentially a one joke movie that strains for variations. At the end there is footage showing how Oederkerk was edited into the original, and Cannonball Run-style outtakes. Keep watching the credits for a bit at the end. Music by Robert Folk.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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