As the beginning disclaimer explains, this creative action/comedy produces mixed results as it combines footage from a little known 1976 martial arts movie called Tiger and Crane Fists with new footage that matches sets and settings of the existing movie. Audiences with little or no interest in martial arts movies probably won’t appreciate it as much as hard-core fans of the movie genre.
Steve Oederkerk (Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Nothing to Lose) directs the comedy and also stars as the “Chosen One”. Oederkerk also does all the voices except for Whoa, who is played and dubbed by Jennifer Tung (TV movie The President’s Man, TV’s Angel, Pretender). Leo Lee (Swordfish, Replacement Killers, Contact), young Master Pain. The comedy works fairly well considering the weak existing material. Oederkerk uses some creative ways to improve this material, but his methods that demean women aren’t commendable.
The quality of the previous footage quality didn’t have to be that good except for beginning sequence with baby (special effects teams well aided by dark shadows so no need for specific details) and special effects sequences later involving a cow. Modern elements added to the creative process have more hits than misses in the comedy department. Fun product placements, an intermission and modern songs help too.
Comedy is one of the hardest things to achieve and Oederkerk does it several times in this movie, but with a very weak story to begin with the audience doesn’t relate to the characters as they would in a conventional movie which puts more stress on the laughs. The level of comedy in the first half of the movie stays high but lags a bit later like the sight gag involving a squirrel that has a weak pay off. Give him credit for reworking an entire movie and making it funny and fun. He tries to make the characters lovable at least, but some characters may annoy, instead of entertain.
Kung Pow has a decent level of comedy and the movie has some enjoyable ending credit bonuses, such as out takes, bloopers and behind the scenes peaks at the making of the movie, but makes some presumptuous promotions also. The original sound and dialogue from Tiger and Crane Fists could add even more comedy.
Rated PG-13 and recommended with reservations (** out of four stars). Kung Pow’s budget was a reported 9 million dollars, so even if the box office stays low, this movie will find success and mild entertainment as well.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler