They say nobody sets out to make a bad movie, but with Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, that's a hard statement to believe. One could argue that as a silly, nonsensical comedy poking fun at martial arts flicks, this bumbling trash-heap serves it purpose. Is it right to pan a film for achieving its goals?
If it's as bad as this, you bet! When a single person writes, directs, produces, and stars in a movie, you know it's truly his vision. For Steve Oedekerk, who made us laugh with The Nutty Professor and made us cringe with Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, it's an accomplishment that will haunt him for the rest of his career.
He uses action footage from a 1970s martial arts picture called Tiger and Crane Fists, in Tiger Lily style, and creates a brand new story by altering the dialogue and adding additional footage -- throwing in degrading computer-generated visuals like alien space ships, a karate-kicking cow, and a baby that you would not want to mingle with in a dark alley.
The film opens as an evil, seemingly unstoppable kung fu legend called Master Pain invades a petty couple's home. The villain is searching for a little baby, known as "the chosen one," who holds extraordinary abilities. Master Pain kills the infant's parents and attempts to swindle the baby himself, but he's not successful. The baby kicks his butt to kingdom come. Pain barely escapes with his life.
However, as an adult, "the chosen one" (Oedekerk) seeks vengeance for the death of his parents, even if that means facing the toughest, meanest bad guy around.
Parodies can work... or not, and sure enough Oedekerk misses almost every comic opportunity. He replaces real humor with intentionally bad dubbing, abominable performances, cheesy special effects, and simply horrible filmmaking. He includes a lot of comic material, but he thinks it's funny just because this is a bad movie. Without the timing, the wit, and the punch line, it is not.
The movie does contain a few amusing moments. When it spoofs martial arts action flicks by exaggerating their stupidity, it makes us laugh. But even then we are laughing out of disbelief at how incredibly bad this movie is. It's atrocious, mind-numbing, indescribably bad. Don't call it a waste of money and time, call it a waste of life in general.
But we can't accuse Kung Pow for misfiring, since it is exactly what it wants to be: an atrociously, mind-numbingly, indescribably bad movie. Unfortunately, we'd prefer a simple misfire.
The Kung Pow DVD takes the format to the bizarre... and beyond. In addition to a commentary track, you'll find the undubbed version of the film (what Oedekerk is actually saying underneath his own dubbing is simply nuts), as well as a "book on tape" version of the audio -- with a narrator voicing all of the (dubbed version of the) dialogue for all of the characters in a stuffy British voice. This almost makes the film worthwhile. There's also a full ton of behind-the-scenes footage, animations, effects propaganda, and the like. It goes on and on... kind of like Kung Pow itself.
Don't we wish.