DVD Review #4: Kung Pow! Enter the Fist (The Chosen Edition) (2002)

January 24, 2010 at 11:11 AM | Posted in Comedy, DVD Reviews | Leave a comment

Movie:
This is one of those movies where you feel like you should know who the hell made it, but you don’t. Steve Oedekerk is not Bob Odenkirk. An easy mistake to make. He was not on Mr. Show. But whatever he was on, he made Thumb Wars and various other thumb parodies that most people haven’t even heard of. But now you know him as the guy from Kung Pow, so shut up.

(Cont.)

You won’t find a perfect comedy here. You will find a kung fu spoof in the vein of the early Zucker films, and more than a little of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (I’m surprised Steve didn’t realize he remade the “running” gag.) There are, as always, jokes that go on too long, or miss their mark. But it’s a silly film, and it delivers the silly in herds.

To me, the mark of any great film is memorability. You know, maybe that’s superficial bullshit. I mean, Empire of the Sun is a GREAT film, but I wouldn’t say any particular moments are more memorable than the rest. Let’s just say “really good film” then. Great films are in another league. Well, Kung Pow must be a really good film, because the silly voices and the jokes get stuck in your head for a week. That’s all I really need. And in the end, the boring parts are discarded in your brain, and it’s what’s left that matters.

The fighting cow might not be funny after the first time. But the old man massaging his friend’s fresh wound will always be. And I insist on using the word “badong” in conversation now.

The downsides of this are when the visual effects look bad. The cow is fine. It’s passable. It’s better than most Disney films and their big-headed talking crap characters. It’s generally the head/body replacable that falls flat. It’s almost funny in itself when it does. Sometimes it’s a little irking, like the continuity errors in the waterfall sequence. But it’s just meant to be a damn silly film, and it succeeds at that endlessly. Nitpicking the effects is like nitpicking the fonts in Casablanca.

Commentary:
The commentary is great. You get the requisite explanation of how they made the movie, goof pointers, and lots of wacky sounds, songs and voices. You will laugh and cry and listen to it over and over and forget to eat and then die.

The “What Did They Really Say?” audio track is a weird ride. Between the original Mandarin and the utter nonsense spoken by Steve and other actors, this is purely academic trivia, or for stoned people. Some of the real lines are funny. Some are actually repeated footage. Most are just weird nonsense.

The long lost book-on-tape version is not as polished as one might hope. It’s a British guy speaking all of the dialogue of the film. You can still hear the music and effects, and there’s no actual narration, so don’t expect “Wizard People, Dear Reader.” This may be a track to switch to if you fancy hearing a particular line delivered in a straight English accent.

Extras:
Most of the extra features are a little disappointing. Granted, making this movie consisted mainly of shooting little pickups and some green screen footage, so the short EPK featurette is all you could really expect for behind-the-scenes.

The deleted scenes are probably the best feature. There are quite a few of them, most of them revolving around the torture scene which had to be cut for a PG-13 rating, probably for the dick jokes. The Chosen One gets his face tattooed in this scene, which means every other scene with the tattoo also had to be cut. That’s a shame, although I must admit I don’t really miss the dick jokes. And the torture scene itself is questionable, as it’s all new and not from an old movie as far as I can tell.

There’s also an animatic of the cow fight scene, which is actually quite good, and over a minute longer.

I must say with all the talk about how there were so many visual effects shots in the film and how hard it was to make, it might have been nice to show more of the guys who did it all. But the “Chosen Edition” is still worth it for what’s there.

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