Right before sitting down to write the script for Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, writer-director Steve Oedekerk must have almost choked on post-ganja fried chicken, perhaps while watching Woody Allen’s classic What’s Up Tiger Lily?. Not unlike the Allen film, Kung Pow is for the MST3K crowd. Oedekerk has taken the 1976 Hong Kong karate flick Savage Killers and blue-screened himself into the narrative, reimagining an otherwise lethargic text as an 80-minute gag reel. Much like What’s Up Tiger Lily?, Kung Pow is as hysterical as it is frequently flat. Curiously, there is a plot: the Chosen One (Oedekerk) must avenge his family’s death by removing triangles of power from the chest of an evil henchman who foolishly takes on the name Betty. Via his on-screen lover’s erratic laughing and obsessive undressing/redressing ritual, Oedekerk toys with the way the female is represented in Asian kung-fu cinema. While Allen’s film relied entirely on voiceovers, Oedekerk has shot new footage for his novelty item. The results are mixed and he frequently loses himself to parody. The woman with one breast may have her charms but the Chosen One’s fight with a cow ends with yet another strained Matrix reference. Still, Kung Pow must be seen to be believed. It may amount to little more than Oedekerk sitting in front of a screen and playing the fool for 80 minutes but it makes for a curious if not entirely pleasant viewing experience.
Oddly enough, this is one of the best-looking DVD titles on the market. Presented in its original 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen ration, Kung Pow is, if not entirely successful as a chuckle machine, an impressive visual amalgam of the film's original text and Steve Oedekerk's new material. Oedekerk color-corrected the new footage, intensifying the grain to the point that the marriage of the two texts is virtually seamless. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is equally impressive. The film's dialogue is clean, robust yet muddled enough to evoke the films it spoofs. The disc is equipped with optional Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks that are every bit as weird as the film. The Spanish track is especially notable for the voiceover artist's perfect engagement of Oedekerk's female squawks.
On the disc's commentary track, Steve Oedekerk and producer Paul Marshal act foolish for a tiresome 81 minutes. The director, though, puts the film in perspective by saying that he was trying to make a "blatant freakshow." Included here are two alternate audio tracks, the "Long Lost Book-on-Tape Version" and the "What are they really saying" version. The former features a British voiceover artist reading Oedekerk's new dialogue verbatim; it's funny for about a minute before sinking into purposelessness. The latter is a far more successful experiment, an amalgam of the old footage's Mandarin language track and the soundtrack that was actually recorded during the shooting of the film's original sequences. (Most hysterical is the Tic Tac sequence between Oedekerk and Jennifer Tung.) Combined with the optional French and Spanish soundtracks, there are now five different ways to watch Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. Also included here is a lively behind-the-scenes featurette, a special effects section (featuring blue screen before and after shots and a detailed look at the cow visual effects), six alternate takes and 14 deleted scenes (some with "what are they really saying" alternate dialogue), five stills galleries, a Tonguey Tribute, promo spots and a theatrical trailer.
Though you may not want to tell anyone you own this disk, it's a keeper. A ganja party flick if there ever was one.