Kung Pow! Enter the Fist (2002)

Posted in Reviews by - May 22, 2016
Kung Pow! Enter the Fist (2002)

This one-joke kung fu spoof places the comedian Steve Oedekerk into footage from a 1976 Jimmy Wang Yu film, Tiger and Crane Fists. Alongside new retrofitted scenes, Oedekerk provides all of the dubbed voices and reproduces some of Wang Yu’s movements with the help of a blue screen (this arduous process is shown during the film’s end credits). The story becomes quite preposterous, bolstered by a crude and juvenile sense of humour, which is just what you would expect from the guy who created Ace Ventura. Oedekerk is the Chosen One with a talking face on his tongue, called Tonguey. His family was killed by the evil Master Betty when he was a baby – he narrowly avoids death by leaping out of his cot and jumping into kung fu action – and he is “raised by rodents” to become an expert fighter. He punches holes in people, screams like Bruce Lee until his neck explodes, and at one point, uses two gophers to create makeshift nunchakus. During his quest for revenge, he ends up fighting with an animated cow firing milk from its udders. There is also a rather pointless role for Jennifer Tung as a kung fu super vixen with one boob, and a strange moment in which Oedekerk seeks spiritual guidance from an animated lion’s head in the sky.

Kung fu pictures are such an easy target for comedy – the bad dubbing, the crash zooms, the crazy weapons and so on, all of which don’t go unreported here – and the high-water mark for this kind of thing will always remain the ‘Fistful of Yen’ sequence from John Landis’ The Kentucky Fried Movie, which does what Kung Pow! is attempting to do, only much funnier and in less time. If this film was produced today, it would be a bedroom exercise uploaded to YouTube, rather than an expensive Fox studios release. Much of the joy comes from the original footage, notably Lung Fei’s outrageous villain complete with flying claw hand and strange metal studs on his body. But that’s all in Wang Yu’s original film, along with Lau Kar-wing’s sterling fight choreography for which this film invariably omits in favour of increasingly broad visual gags. There is also something culturally insensitive about a well-financed American production appropriating low-budget foreign content for the purposes of ridicule, and placing a Caucasian actor at the helm in a purposefully bad imitation. Even if the idea was conceived with the best of intentions, it still comes across as self-serving and smug.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

1 Comment

  • Matt

    It says a lot that if you look up Kung Pow on YouTube, the reappropriated footage from Tiger&Crane Fists is consistently agreed upon to be the funniest/most memorable parts of the movie. All of Oedekerk’s more novel contributions, such as the tongue thing, the CGI fighting cow, and the Lion King parody, apparently went over like a ton of bricks.

Leave Your Comment