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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Kung-Pow: Enter the Fist (2002)

"I must apologize for Wimp-Lo. He is an idiot. We trained him wrong, as a joke."
- Kung-Fu Master (Oedekerk)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: July 30, 2002

Stars: Steve Oedekerk
Other Stars: Jennifer Tung, Leo Lee
Director: Steve Oedekerk

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for comic violence and sexual humor
Run Time: 01h:21m:45s
Release Date: July 23, 2002
UPC: 024543043881
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ C-B+B+ B+

DVD Review

Kung-Pow: Enter the Fist has such a great concept, it should be one of the funniest films of all time. Director Steve Oedekerk took an obscure chop-socky film from the 1970s and spruced it up with newly dubbed dialogue and digital effects that blended in new footage seamlessly in order to create an entirely new product and an absurd comedy experience. Too bad the same idea was done, and better, by Woody Allen over 30 years ago with What's Up, Tiger Lily?

The plot, such as it is, is a tweak of the fairly standard kung-fu story. Oedekerk plays Chosen, an orphan whose parents were killed when he was but a baby. He has wandered the land for years, the target of assassins who believe he is the chosen one (as he carries the mark, which is, for some reason, a little animated face on his tongue). He finally learns the truth of his origins, and must challenge the Evil Master Pain (aka Betty) if he wants to survive. Along the way he'll be helped by Wimp-Lo and the mysterious one-boobed Whoa (Tung).

Oedekerk provides the dubbed voices for nearly all of the supporting characters (or at least, all of those that were taken from the original footage) and has inserted himself digitally into the remaining shots. Also added are entirely new scenes, including a fight with "gopher-chucks" and a battle with a CGI cow (complete with the requisite Matrix parodies).

It seems to have taken quite a bit of work to get the new and old footage to blend seamlessly. The bonus features reveal just how carefully Oedekerk and his editors tried to rework his newly created characters into the existing scenes. The best humor, in fact, stems from Chosen's bizarre interactions with the "old" actors, and it's truly remarkable how convincing is the digital trickery.

Technical achievements notwithstanding, however, Kung-Pow is fairly dull. It might've been quite funny as a short, but even a relatively brief 80-minute feature wears thin. The obscure dubbed dialogue is occasionally funny, but the broad physical comedy falls flat (though the lack of poop and fart jokes is appreciated). Oedekerk has done parody before, and done it better (check out Thumb Wars). Kung-Pow proves that not all good ideas make for good movies.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Oedekerk and Fox have done a nice job presenting rather difficult source material on DVD. The balance between the new and old footage is excellent, with the old stuff cleaned up but still a bit aged, and the new stuff worn to match it. As a result, though, traditional reviewing standards don't apply—Kung-Pow was never meant to look fresh and new. That said, colors look consistent if a bit dull throughout, blacks are solid, and edge enhancement and artifacting are never much of a problem.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The video might show its age, but the audio appears to have been entirely rerecorded, in 5.1 no less. Dialogue of course sounds completely unnatural, as it has all been dubbed, but the new insertions are always clear and understandable. The surrounds are put to good use with directional effects and occasional front to back imaging. The front soundstage carries the score and the bulk of the sound effects, and the mix expands with some decent LFE.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Supertroopers
4 TV Spots/Teasers
14 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
4 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Steve Oedekerk, producer Paul Marshal
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Alternate Audio Tracks
  2. Scenes with Alternate Dialogue
  3. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Director Steve Oedekerk is obviously a huge DVD fan, as he has put a lot of effort into creating an extras package that fits the tone and content of the film, right down to the goofy animated menus.

Oedekerk and producer Paul Marshall contribute a feature-length commentary track, discussing how they selected the film they eventually mutated into Kung-Pow and the complicated process that required, but mostly they just act silly and make fun of each other. It's kinda boring after a while, but fans of Oedekerk's humor might enjoy it.

Two other alternate audio tracks also run the length of the feature. What They Were Really Saying features the original Cantonese audio from Tiger and Crane Fists and the English dialogue spoken on-set for the newly filmed footage (to give it that dubbed appearance, an entirely different script was actually filmed, and a far weirder one at that). The Long Lost Book on Tape Version features all of the dialogue read in a stuffy British accent. Both tracks are fairly weird and only sporadically amusing.

A making-of featurette runs five minutes and briefly covers the technical aspects of making the film while interspersing brief comments from the creative team and more than a few film clips. Pow Visual Effects offers video vignettes showing before and after shots of the original and newly altered footage, and before and after shots and a bizarre CG cartoon animatic of the cow fight scene.

Fourteen deleted scenes offer more bizarre humor, and I honestly can't say that most of the cut material is better or worse than what is actually in the film. There are some good bits though, including a show-stopping musical number that probably surpasses anything that showed in theaters.

Scenes with Alternate Dialogue offers just that, six clips from the film with the characters "speaking" different lines (since everything was dubbed over anyway, though, I guess this is just an excuse to include more oddball humor). A Tonguey Tribute gives you about a minute of clips from Oedekerk's in-mouth co-star.

Finally, on the promotional side, a photo gallery includes the contents of the press kit, with production notes, bios, and behind-the-scenes shots. Also included are four TV spots, the trailer, and an ad for the DVD release of Fox's Super Troopers.

Scattered throughout the menus are a number of easy to locate Easter eggs, but none offer anything more than yet more weirdness (particularly the clip of Oedekerk's dancing penis).

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Comedy is entirely subjective, and I'll freely admit that there are those who will be amused by Kung-Pow: Enter the Fist. It's a high-concept movie, and though it's filled with stupid humor, it isn't entirely brainless, so give it a try if you've enjoyed past offerings from the director (particularly his Thumbmation® shorts). I just won't be watching it with you.

 


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