Review Date: 12/13/03
Written And Directed By: Steve Oedekerk
Camera: Steve Wang
Fight Instructor: Lau Kar Wing
Cast: Steve Oedekerk, Jennifer Tung, Jimmy Wang Yu, Tse Ling Ling
Beyond bizarre. In the tradition of "Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters" (1989), "What's Up Tiger Lily", and "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid", Steve Oedekerk has taken Jimmy Wang Yu's kung fu film "Tiger And Crane Fist" (1977) and reworked it with different dialog and a host of special effects. The most fascinating aspect of the film is seeing Oedekerk digitally composited into the original footage, and that's really the only reason to watch the film.
Steve Oedekerk is The Chosen One - a man of incredible powers with a very peculiar tongue. He alone can avenge the death of his parents at the hands of Master Pain and put an end to the Evil Council. Like any kung fu classic, Chosen One confronts the villain, is soundly beaten, and barely escapes with his life. He then spends the majority of the film practicing and honing his skills for the inevitable rematch. There's also a love interest in the form of the lovely Tse Ling Ling. Master Pain (or Betty, as he prefers to be called) is eventually defeated by Chosen One and his tongue, but that's only the beginning of his troubles.
Like many parodies, this film looks like it was a lot of fun to make, but it's kind of painful to watch. Oedekerk's writing is absurd and lacks any real punch, relying instead on funny noises and juvenile quips to engage the audience. But at the same time, it's fascinating to see how he has carefully reconstructed the original film. Oedekerk is also surprisingly fit, and handles the kung fu scenes with flair. He's obviously an old school martial arts fan, and has done a fantastic job with capturing the style and spirit of the 1970's Shaw Brothers era of filmmaking. It also helps to have martial arts veterans like Steve Wang and Lau Kar Wing involved in the process. The effects, while low budget, are impressive and convincing, and both Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt of "405" fame lent their animation talent to the effort. While the writing may be stale and adolescent, "Kung Pow" is fun to watch with people who appreciate intentionally bad cinema.