Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002) / Comedy-Action
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, and crude and sexual humor
Running Time: 81 min.
Cast: Steve Oedekirk, Fei Lung, Ling Ling Tse, Hui Lou Chen, Chi Ma, Jennifer Tung, Leo Lee
Director: Steve Oedekirk
Screenplay: Steve Oedekirk
Review published March 18, 2003
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist is an intentionally stupid homage to 70s Asian martial arts revenge flicks, remixed and redubbed with Steve Oedekirk's special blend of silly shenanigans. Like Woody Allen did in 1966's What's Up Tiger Lily?, Oedekirk has taken an actual film, Tiger and Crane Fist from 1977, and has removed the audio tracks and injected his own, added some special effects which put him in the movie, and shot some extra scenes to hold the film together. Everything is played for laughs, with no shame in the silly, sometimes embarrassing antics in order to try to get you to finally submit and (Oedekirk hopes) laugh your ass off.
Kung Pow starts off with a family ruthlessly slaughtered at the hands of an unscrupulous warlord, Master Pain, but one survivor remained. It is a child with a mark upon his tongue, The Chosen One, who was foretold to rid the land of the evil clans. With painful memories of a family slain, the Chosen One seeks an end to Pain's malevolent ways, but his talent is raw and undisciplined, and the dangers are great.
Oedekirk employs the "kitchen sink" approach in this wacky comedy, and there's definitely more miss than hit in this comedy full of ridiculously childish sight gags and goofiness. However, to those with a weakness for jokes that are "so stupid you have to laugh," there is a point where the repeated attempts at some of the dumbest humor you'll ever see can grow on you, and once you start laughing, you probably won't be able to stop, reeled in to the inanity that never ceases, even throughout the credits.
Kung Pow is one of those comedies that is virtually critic-proof, as how funny you find it is solely determined on the funny bone of the beholder. My personal take: I enjoy the spoofs on old kung fu flicks and admire Oedekirk's inventiveness when it comes to injecting the movie with visual humor, but I shook my head far, far more than I smiled at some very terrible, juvenile jokes. Kung Pow definitely will have a cult following, particularly among young boys, pulp kung fu fanatics (especially those familiar with Tiger and Crane Fist), and fans of Oedekirk's brand of humor. What it all comes down to is this: if you really want to see a man fight a cow that uses its udders as weapons, you're the intended audience. Everyone else should steer clear. (Pun intended...it's that kind of movie.)
©2003 Vince Leo