PSA: Kung Pow: Enter The Fist (2002), or This Is Actually The Movie That I Fell In Love To!

28 11 2009

Most people have either a love or hate relationship with Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. They will either say, “I thought it was HILARIOUS!” or “That was the dumbest piece of shit I ever saw…” And while I can’t exactly say that Kung Pow is NOT dumb, I can reply by saying that it’s unabashedly so. Kung Pow is that silly, stupid mix of comedy that wins me over with its sheer spontaneity. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and even after you’ve seen it, you still can’t believe they went there, of all places. I know because of it’s format I’m perhaps predisposed to liking it, since it mimics the MST3k style of comedy in a way, similar to Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?. But this is like an extremely interactive, hyper-silly MST that features an array of different ideas, fun special effects, and off-the-wall characters that will stick in your brain long after you’re done watching.

Basically, director Steve Oedekerk re-edited the cheesy 70s martial arts film Tiger and Crane Fist and inserted new scenes, dialog, and characters. It totally throws away the story, opting for a new one. In this version, there is a terrifying martial artist/warlord named Master Pain roaming the countryside destroying all resistance to his rule, looking in particular for a child who will defeat him one day known as the Chosen One.  He stops by a tiny hut in the middle nowhere one night, believing to have found the child in the form of a newborn baby who bears a striking mark. He kills the parents in a matter of moments, but when it comes to killing the baby, he finds it considerably harder. The Chosen One, even as a baby, puts up a decent fight, kicking the crap out of him and his henchmen!!! Eventually, he loses, and Master Pain, believing him defeated, burns down his house. But he escapes, and grows up on his own in the wilderness, honing his martial arts skills for the day when he would meet Master Pain again and finally defeat him. He grows up into a great fighter, but one who needs direction, so he finds a home at a dojo to train with the legendary Master Tang. There, the eccentric Master trains him into an even better warrior. But will it be enough to defeat the evil Master Pain, who now goes by the name Betty (It’s an Asian guy with a moustache)? And can the Chosen One defeat Master Pain’s Betty’s henchmen, one of which includes a ridiculously evil martial arts wielding cow? Or will he end up causing the dojo harm by merely standing against Betty’s evil plans?

This film is insane!!! We have aliens, kung fu cows, people punching holes through people, telekinesis, women with three boobs, and talking tongues!!! There’s so much madcap fun going on, it’s hard to keep up with the jokes! Steve Oedekerk likes machine-gunning humor at people, just throwing stuff out there and seeing what sticks, and in my opinion, he gets most of it dead on. The thing you have to realize is, he’s not just making up goofy scenarios, he’s also doing a lot of satire, taking aim at all the old martial arts cliches and the weird things about them. A lot of the jokes he makes involve the dubbing, and all the goofy off-the-wall words and noises you can make them say to match the lips of whoever’s saying them with the new dialog. That’s why the Chosen One’s girlfriend, Ling, usually just makes a lot of nonsense words, because they somehow fit into her lips when the voice actress says stuff like this…

If you ever watched the badly dubbed kung fu movies from the late 60s and 70s, and always wanted add your own dialog to it, here’s a fun alternative!

The effects are pretty mind-blowing when you put it into perspective. The guy took a movie, remade it, and painstakingly added himself and others into it. It technically has more special effects per shot than nearly any other movie. The time it took to digitally insert these people must have been unimaginable, but the effect is pretty seamless. After seeing it 100 times like I have, you can  figure it out, but otherwise I would have thought he was actually part of this production in the 70s. Oedekerk is also all the voices for all the characters with the exception of one, and he was also the director, producer, and writer of this film. Pretty impressive when you consider he’s also the main character too!

With such a wealth of abundance from this slice of 70s martial arts cheese, it’s hard to choose the best gags. But here are a few of my favorites:

1. Master Tang Comforts His Dying Friend-

What a pal!

2. Chosen One Creates A New Word For His Frustrations-

I fully endorse that statement.

3. Intermission-

I think that speaks for itself.

And finally, possibly my favorite gag of the many, many found in Kung Pow:

WTF?!?!?! I don’t know what it means, but I like it!

So don’t listen to your friends, your family, the press, your youth minister, more reputable critics, the nation at large, your youth minister, IMDB, the box office receipts, various negative stereotypes circulating about the film, or especially your youth minister about Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. Listen to me. I think it’s a hilarious movie with a lot of delightful insights about the martial arts film of bygone days, as well as some just plain weird, absurdist humor. It’s not on 100% of the time, but I’ll say that at least 80% of the jokes worked for me, so I’m going to go ahead and give Kung Pow: Enter the Fist 8 Wee-oo-wee-oo-wees out of 10! Take that, established critics of America!

Tomorrow I’m still in the dark about what I’ll be watching, but if you can think of something I should be watching, let me know!

And for those of you wondering about the title, this was the movie Bren and i would put on ad-nauseum in my room while we talked the night away those first few months of our relationship. It has a special place in my heart as the background noise to my timeless romance with the lady I’ll be spending the rest of my life with! So don’t write anything TOO snarky about it on the comments section!!!