Review: Kung Pow: Enter the Fist

Kung Pow must be seen to be believed.

Kung Pow: Enter the Fist
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Right before sitting down to write the script for Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, 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. Surprisingly, perhaps, there’s a plot here: 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 and not entirely unpleasant viewing experience.

 Cast: Tad Horino, Joon B. Kim, Steve Oedekerk, Woon Young Park, Philip Tan, Jennifer Tung, Ron Yuan  Director: Steve Oedekerk  Screenwriter: Steve Oedekerk  Distributor: 20th Century Fox  Running Time: 81 min  Rating: PG-13  Year: 2002  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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