Kung Fu Rascals (1991)

Rating: *
Review Date: 10/31/99
Written, Edited, Directed, and Produced by: Steve Wang
Creature Effects: Steve Wang
Music: Les Claypool
Cast: Steve Wang, Les Claypool

For Steve Wang fans only. Even though I consider Steve Wang to be one of the best B-movie filmmakers in the business, this slapstick kung fu parody is a serious endurance test to sit through. A master thief named Chen Chow Mein (Steve Wang) steals a precious map from the evil Bamboo Man, who has plans to take over Shaolin Temple. Using the map, Chen and his buddies Reepo and Lao Ze (a silly Bruce Lee impersonator), set off on a quest to find the "power most big." They run into all sorts of trouble and silliness along the way, facing such adversaries as the Sheriff of Ching Wa County (Les Claypool), the 60-foot tall Nio Titan, and the pig-faced Raspmutant, the Mad Monk. They finally defeat everyone, but just as their climactic encounter with Bamboo Man is about to take place, the movie ends.

It's frustrating to see a film with so many good things going for it turn out so awful. Typical of Wang's work, the direction is sharp, the editing is slick and professional, the effects are spectacular (especially considering the shoestring budget), the makeup is excellent, and the martial arts sequences range from good to great. The fights between Wang and Les Claypool are excellently performed and could proudly stand next to Hong Kong's finest. Unfortunately, the movie is long and really slow, and the writing is atrocious. The non-stop humor is forced and dreadfully unfunny, and like so many other movie parodies created by a bunch of film geeks, the only ones likely to be amused by this production are the filmmakers themselves. This is quite obviously just a bunch of guys who got together and wanted to make a silly kung fu movie, and had a great time doing it. Easy to appreciate, but hard to enjoy.