Saturday, March 22, 2008

Guilty Pleasure 3: Kung Pow! Enter the Fist

In 1966, Woody Allen took a James Bond style Japanese movie and re-recorded the soundtrack to create the comedy "What's Up Tiger Lily." As technology advanced, it was only a matter of time before someone took the next step, not just re-dubbing, but actually using digital technology to insert new actors into an old film. That's exactly what writer, director, and star Steve Oedekerk did with 2002's "Kung Pow! Enter the Fist."

Much of the footage for Kung Pow is taken from a 1977 Hong Kong martial arts film called "Tiger and Crane Fist." Oedekerk plays a wandering warrior called "The Chosen One" who must train in order to fight the evil warlord Master Pain, who early in the film decides to change his name to "Betty." In many instances, Oedekerk's head is digitally placed over that of actor Jimmy Wang Yu, star of the original film.

Digital technology is employed in several other bits as well, including a Matrix-style fight sequence with a cow. Since this film, Oedekerk directed the animated film "Barnyard," famous for it's male cows with udders (read my previous blog post on that here). The man is clearly obsessed with all things bovine.

All of the film's dialogue is dubbed over the original voices, both from the original Hong Kong film as well as Oedekerk's new footage. One of the extra bonuses of the DVD is the "What They were Actually Saying" audio track. So we're able to hear that in the final film Oedekerk's dubbed voice says a line like, "...and that day I vowed to find the man who killed my family. Can you help me?" was actually spoken on the set as, "My favorite pie is lemon meringue, can you serve it?" Oedekerk also performs almost all of the new voices himself.

Every time I watch this movie my wife walks in, shakes her head, and says, "Are you watching this dumb movie again?" You men out there be warned, your wife will hate this movie. Don't even try to watch it with her. Have her go to another room and watch "The Notebook" or something, she'll thank you.

There are a few bits of crude humor I could do without, but most of the movie is silly fun. Some of the jokes have me laughing uncontrollably no matter how many times I've seen them.

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