You can either look at Kung Pow and see comedic genius, or you can look at it and wish it had been kicked in the behind by a comedic genius. It’s just one of those movies that you either love or loathe with a deep resounding passion. I personally liked it. It’s my kinda comedy. Silly, nonsensical, illogical, dumb. It made me laugh, and that’s all I could have asked for.
Of course it’s not without its flaws, and there are a number of jokes and gags that fall flat. I, for one, think it’s a crime to put a face on the tip of a tongue and then have it wink at the camera. What’s stopping them from putting a face on that tongue and a face on that face’s tongue? It could go on forever. In the movie’s outtakes, the tongue-face gets its own scrub down. It’s a little awkward. And what’s with the cow? Is it a cow that’s mistaken itself for a bull? Or maybe it’s just frustrated that all the other cows have disappeared. Or maybe it’s Agent Smith in disguise?
The movie is directed by Steve Oedekerk. He also stars in it and provides the voice of every single character save one. What he does with these characters, and the story that supports them, is genius. He uses archival footage from a genuine Hong Kong martial arts movie, Tiger And Crane Fist, mixes it up with original footage, CGI, and some incredible green screen trickery, and develops an entirely new, unrelated plot. This plot is a little strange. It involves The Chosen One (played as a genuine character by Oedekerk) trying to stop his archenemy Master Pain (demanding later on to be called Betty) from summoning French aliens to destroy the world. Master Pain… I mean Betty also seems to be fuelled by a couple of tiny steel pyramids that are lodged into his torso. To render him useless, The Chosen One must remove them. This, as you can imagine, is a difficult task because pyramids provide no gripping point.
Each character in the movie has a unique voice. One sounds like Goofy. Another like a cowboy from the Old West. Betty’s voice is nasal and his laugh is strangely infectious. The Chosen One’s master sounds as if he’s just spent a weekend shouting and screaming at a concert, and his shy but slutty lover Ling loves finishing her sentences with funny sounds and quotations from Donald Duck. It surprises me how many different types of voices can come out of one man.
To say that Kung Pow is a slapstick comedy would not do it justice. It’s been slapped with a few slapsticks, and then it’s drowned itself in a pool of its own jokes. Oedekerk has crafted a funny movie from the remnants of a serious one, but I think he fails at some points to keep it under control. Details slip out from under him a few times, and while that does no harm to a movie that seems impervious to insult and ridicule, it shoots the movie off in directions more wayward than a homeless boy who’s discovered drugs. But still I find it hard to label this as a major problem. I’m more disturbed by Tonguey and the acrobatic cow.
Kung Pow is hilarious, to me anyway. If you want my advice though, watch it with a group of like-minded friends. It works better that way. Watching it alone could make you question your sanity.
Best Moment | There are so many good moments. For me, and I think for most people, Betty is the star — “What about a carbonated soda?”. The movie is so crazy though that I found myself laughing at the most ridiculous things. “Mmmmm… tiger. Tiger tiger tiger. Bird. Birdy birdy.”.
Worst Moment | Tonguey.