Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002) — Is nothing sacred anymore?

“I’m sure on some planet your style is quite impressive, but your weak link is: This is Earth.”

Justin’s rating: Everybody was kung fu fighting (te te te tee tee tee) Everyone was fast as lightning

Justin’s review: Who is Steve Oedekerk? Walk into any media store and boldly demand to be ushered to the discount video sales rack, and chances are the store employees will have some sort of Oedekerk shrine set up. This is the man responsible for the odd yet prolific chain of extremely budgeted finger movies, all with the word “thumb” in there somewhere. Among others, he’s written, directed and “acted” in Thumbtanic, Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle, Bat Thumb, Godthumb, The Blair Thumb, and (sadly) Frankenthumb. Yes, this is a man who was so certain he could make money off of entertainment-starved idiots that he shrugged and pointed a camera at his thumb and someone thought that was funny. Sheesh. Whatever. I mean! Wow.

Honestly, I have no idea whether it is funny or not. I only watch movies that feature ears and noses.

So the cinema visionary that is Steve Oedekerk decided, between rolling around in his huge bales of ill-gotten money, he needed another way to make gobs of cash from parodies and doing as little actual work as was humanly possible. Enter Kung Pow: Enter The Fist.

Kung Pow is written by Steve Oedekerk. It is directed by Steve Oedekerk. It is produced by, among others, Steve Oedekerk. And it stars — get this! — Steve Oedekerk. Do you like the name Steve Oedekerk? I bet you’ll remember it after this review! The Mastermind Known as Steve Oedekerk took the 1976 martial arts film Savage Killers, stripped it of its soundtrack, and replaced it with his own audio, while also magically splicing in himself and other characters through the art of digital idiocy. So what you get with this movie is an odd cross-breed of Mystery Science Theater 3000, with its snarky self-aware comments, and Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil Mutant Alien, Flesh-Eating Hellbound Crawling Zombified Living-Dead Part II in Shocking 2-D, with its juvenile attempts at cheap laughs through silly sound effects.

And you know what? Sometimes, just sometimes, it works. Kung Pow dances back and forth between being outright obnoxious and being fairly clever in trying to get your lips to smile and your heart to leap about (unless that’s cholesterol damming things up). At times, I just grimaced and wondered if this could be the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen… but right then, something would happen (like a bad guy putting on MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” with a boombox for a big fight) to make me laugh the laugh of kings. The main thing that saves this movie from being what it really is — leftovers, warmed up and served to you in a deceitful package — must be the presence of funk daddy Steve Oedekerk. He’s got a likable cloud of persona drifting about his fleshbag, and I might even go as far to say that he’s in the same league as Leslie Neilson when it comes to genuinely funny faces.

Kung Pow more or less follows the story of the “Chosen One” (Steve Oedekerk playing Steve Oedekerk), who gets trained up by a really old guy to fight Master Pain a.k.a. “Betty”, an invincible maniac who dubiously uses the little hand thing from a backscratcher tied to a rope to kill people. With extremely creative dubbing (but tiresome too, with the pig squeals of the love interest) and multiple tiger-style jabs at the martial arts genre as a whole, Kung Pow gives its viewers a heckuva odd rollercoaster ride.

It’s my opinion that Steve Oedekerk should’ve just gone and out-and-out made a complete parody, with none of this film-splicing, soundtrack-replacing business. Kung Pow is at its best game when it relies on completely new scenes, such as my new favorite battle scene in movie history: Steve Oedekerk vs. a kung fu cow. I don’t care how bad a movie is, all faults are redeemed by having a boxing bovine perform a crane kick to Steve Oedekerk’s midsection, and then piledrive him to the ground.

Steve Oedekerk dropped by my place while I was writing this review, and glanced it over, giving it a satisfactory “hm.” I think he wants me to ask you to give him some more moolah. Yes, yes, that’s the stuff.

PoolMan’s rating: If this is how I have to earn my black belt, I’m suddenly not so sure about the whole thing…

PoolMan’s review: There have now been a lot more PoolMan-Infested-Days here at the Mutant Reviewers than there have been PoolMan-Free-Days. The lifespan of our precious little site is currently at about six years or so, and I’ve been on board for roughly five. Being a part of this little family, I’ve seen things you’d never believe. Like the time DnaError accidently phase-shifted his dog halfway through the office’s front door. Or when Andie brought her date home after they won the Stanley Cup. It’s tough to surprise me nowadays. But I’ll tell you, if anything, anything at all has broken through my weirdness screen in the last long while, it’s Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.

My brother, he of the Laughter Like a Hurricane, gave me a promotional copy of this sensationally strange movie a while back (complete with scrolling warnings across the bottom telling me it’s illegal to own it! Yes!). It’s sat in the bottom of my video drawer, gathering dust for months. I’ve been honestly afraid to watch it. The cover features the hero (Chosen One), brandishing a pair of gophers like nunchucks. I can’t tell you how this upsets my sense of the natural order of things (you should always make improvisational nunchucks out of storks). I just remember how very, very bad the reviews were at the time, and had decided to write it off in my brain. But NO, my little bro insisted and pleaded that I should at least give it a spin. At least once. So, with an empty apartment, extra pie in the fridge, and nothing to lose but brain cells, I gave it a shot.

While the Mutant Reviewers do not advocate the use of alcohol or recreational drugs, you better be drunk or stoned to really get full mileage out of this one. That’s not to say it’s bad; on the contrary, I laughed my butt off. But there are things that happen outside of the normal spectrum of sanity that will just leave you speechless. I mean, the whole “remade 1976 kung fu movie” is odd, sure, but that’s got nothing on the fact that pyramid-shaped, French-speaking UFO’s will occupy the screen several times throughout the movie. Or when the woman tosses the baby down the hill (don’t worry, it’s fine). Or Ling’s constant shirt-shedding. Or the SINGING TONGUE IN THE HERO’S MOUTH. NAMED TONGUEY.

Yet for all this flat out strangeness, there’s actually a subtle hand running through the flick. The effects that blend the modern actors into the old movie are actually pretty good, especially when you get to see some of the before and after shots during the closing credits. And there are so many little touches with the characters and voices (I especially loved the Ventriloquists Song) you’ll be keeping your eyes and ears wide open trying to keep track of them all.

Highly quotable (“That’s a lotta nuts!” just had me howling), weird in the proudest tradition of Airplane! and Naked Gun, and featuring one of the best bad guys in recent memory (Bet-TY, Bet-TY!), Kung Pow has entered the cult world as one strange mamma jamma that you just have to see to believe. Is it bad? Oh, you better believe it. But it’s that good kind of bad. My favourite kind. Yep.

Didja notice?

  • Cow fight — deadly milk!
  • Probably the world’s first on-screen tongue fight
  • The dubbing pause between the dog barking and the sound coming through
  • The many boom box songs for fights
  • The voices under the opening credits (“He’s in this movie… her too… shh! The movie’s starting!”)
  • With exception of the character Whoa, Steve Oedekerk did all of the other character’s dubbed voices.
  • When the camera is positioned above the waterfall, you can see the titanic in the water below.
  • Betty’s magical clothing continuity trick!
  • Ling sure has a devil of a time keepering her shirt on, doesn’t she?
  • The Ventriloquists may be my favourite background characters ever.
  • Whoa. Whuh? Whoa!
  • Taco Bell product placement continues its storied history. (think Demolition Man)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s