Few things in life are as disappointing as the discovery that a loved one does not find the EXACT same things funny as you. Whether it’s a knock knock joke, a favorite comedian, or in this particular instance, a much-loved comedy film. For example, when I learned that of the two classic Steve Martin films, Karey liked The Man With Two Brains better than The Jerk, I almost called the whole thing off. (Those were the early ‘getting to know you’ days of our relationship–I’m in it for the long haul now…even if she doesn’t like Zoolander at all.) I mean, The Man With Two Brains is amazingly funny. But, come on…it’s not The Jerk. I’m picking out a thermos for you? A dog called Shithead? Milk-faced bastard? Its superior status cannot be ignored.
Anyway, today I want to write about another film where we disagree. And we disagree BIG time on this one. I mean, she doesn’t even like it a teensy bit–zero tolerance. My lady friend isn’t alone her dislike of this film. It turns out that it’s quite a private little clique that enjoys Kung Pow! and I’m happy to be a member of that club. I feel that the few of us are in possession of a secret understanding of weird comedy. The guy at Blockbuster properly wigged out when I purchased a used copy. He thought he was all alone in this world in his love of the film. This, of course, brings us to today’s great thing:
158. Kung Pow! Enter The Fist
For the uninitiated, Kung Pow! Enter the Fist is a film by Steve Oedekerk. Oedekerk worked on the Ace Ventura films and he does these little ‘thumb’ movies…you may have seen Thumb Wars in the bargain bin at your local Blockbuster outlet. Oedekerk used footage from the chop-sockey movie Tiger and Crane Fist. He re-dubbed the voice track (he plays every single character bar one), and inserted himself into the film as well. He also added a couple of scenes that are completely his invention (some of which were shot in his pool and in his backyard). It’s not a brand new strategy, to parody a film in this way. Woody Allan, for one has done it as has Steve Martin. However, when done right it is indeed effective and still a bit novel. The plot is inane–perhaps not more so than the original kung-fu film’s plot–but that doesn’t matter. Steve Oedekerk plays the Chosen One and he must receive training to battle a village’s monstrous tyrant, Master Pain, aka “Betty”. That’s about all you need to know. The rest is just them riffing on that set-up, the cheesy footage, and making silly voices.
Kung Pow is by no means a perfect film. There’s plenty to drag it down…stupid gags like gopher chucks and ninja cows, a tired Matrix parody, a tongue with a face and mouth of its own that lives in our hero’s face (just watch the film). Those things are all terrible. But, when it’s funny it is pants-peeingly so. It’s weird, actually, that those hack gags came out of the same brain as the person who thought of “That’s a lot of nuts!” (One for the initiated there.) They seem like such different brands of humor. Indeed, that brings us to possible reasons as to why the film is so polarizing.
On IMDB, one user speculates as to why it was so hated by some (including most critics) with this:
One reason is how it was marketed… people wanted to see Gopher-Chucks and Cows doing piledrivers, they didnt expect such an absurd and random comedy based on voice-overs of an old movie. edit: I just saw the trailer again to reming myself and wow..the trailer makes the movie look terrible! baby fighting, stupid tongue, one boob chick, cow, punching a hole in a stomach…TERRIBLE!! The worst parts of the movie!! Not even one line from Master Betty!
So basically, the people with the sense of humor that liked the trailer did not like the actual movie…and many of the people with the sense of humor that would like Kung Pow might never know it exists
Quote from another user: gopher chucks and the cow ruined it. So, that’s a few of us Kung Pow scholars that are in consensus here. The problem is when it verges into ‘zany’ territory. Calling a cow “Moofasa”, tongue-y, the aliens at the end? All that stuff is from the NEW bits that were added. Ignore all that noise and focus on what’s excellent about the film: the dub-over of the existing footage. Everything the supporting characters say is pretty much fried gold. Wimp Lo, Ling, Betty, the two ventriloquists, they all elevate the movie to true cult comedy status. The film occupies a weird niche in the catalogue of comedy…it sort of makes me feel stoned, I laugh at it that hard…even with nary a whiff of second-hand smoke in sight. It lies somewhere between Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a really good round of Mad Libs…perhaps as produced by Weird Al. If that sounds appealing to you at all, check this film out.
Here are three sample scenes with which to both give you a preview and to annoy Karey:
1. Training with Wimp Lo (who the school has trained wrong–as a joke).
Apologies…you must click the link as the darned thing simply won’t embed…
Sometimes I like to go up to Karey and say ‘I challenge you..ahehe ahehehe”. She does not like it and does not laugh. But I do.
2. Ling inexplicably and continuously makes a weeeooopeeeoooweeeooo sort of noise. Watch this montage. My fave moment is when she strikes–using WEEE and OOO as sorts of kiais…
3. Master Betty defends his reputation and tells a joke:
I hope that there was something in at least one of those clips that made you laugh. (Because then you can be part of my elite comedy-appreciation club–“The Chosen Ones”.) You know…there HAD been a rumor that this was meant to be the first of a trilogy. If enough of us clamor for it, perhaps it will happen. Say Eeeeooo Weeeooo if you believe in miracles!