Congratulations are in order for Christopher Walken, who—as Balls of Fury‘s evil crime lord, ping-pong whiz, and fan of Ming the Merciless-style Chinese garb—finally delivers a performance that’s a parody of a parody of himself. “Okey-dokey artichokey,” says Walken in an exaggeration of the peculiar voice and verbal cadence that have endeared him to legions of impressionists, the sense being that the actor finally wants in on some of that fun Walken mimicry. To hear him say, “I bid you toodles,” is to observe an actor far too aware of his own eccentricity, though his embarrassingly self-conscious comedic turn is still the “best” thing about this lazy farce, which concerns former table tennis wunderkind Randy Daytona’s (Dan Fogler) efforts to help an F.B.I. agent (George Lopez) bust Walken’s Master Feng by infiltrating the villain’s deadly ping-pong tournament. Written by Reno 911‘s Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant (the latter also directing), the film mashes up kung-fu movies, inspirational sports dramas, and ‘80s kitsch, a stew that might have wrung laughs from absurd contrasts were it not so shoddily put together. Balls of Fury doesn’t seem carelessly constructed simply because of its preponderance of scenes that begin and end abruptly, or because its two main weapons of humor are monotonous crotch shots and jokes about the blind, or because the entire film seems severely, amateurishly underlit. Rather, it’s because Lennon and Garant operate under the erroneous impression that their basic premise—it’s a ping-pong version of The Karate Kid!—is so knock-down, laugh-out-loud funny that it needs no further development save for a few non sequiturs and easy ironic nods to Def Leppard. To put this miscalculation in terms the filmmakers will understand, they don’t Armageddon it.
- Ben Garant
- Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant
- Dan Fogler, George Lopez, Maggie Q, James Hong, David Koechner, Jason Scott Lee, Patton Oswalt, Terry Crews, Thomas Lennon, Christopher Walken
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