Sometimes it seems that we don't get any good spoofs anymore. It is sad that the height of the spoof comes in the form of Epic Movie and The Comebacks. Of course, we are occasionally graced with something such as the great Hot Fuzz, although that may be more of a comedic homage than a spoof.
Well, just when I was about to give up on the pure spoof, along comes Balls of Fury to help start the healing process. No, it is not a great film, not by a long shot. What Balls of Fury succeeds at is delivering actual laughs, low brow as they may be. Is it worth adding to your collection? Probably not, but it is definitely worth tossing into your Netflix queue.
The film plays out along the same lines as the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon. As co-writer/co-star Thomas Lennon confirms in the bonus material, they took a classic kung fu story and replaced all of the kung fu with ping pong. The end result is a comedy with strong Eastern flavors, seasoned with table tennis, and stewed in the minds behind Reno 911!
Picture this scene: a ping pong prodigy goes to the Olympics with golden expectations, only to fail miserably. This sends his life on a downward spiral that ends with him as an out-of-shape performer at a dinner theater off the Vegas strip. Not exactly the high life that was expected of him based on his early success. Well, as it would turn out, there is a need for his particular skills, a need that could help avert terrorist activity around the world.
The CIA, in the guise of George Lopez, approaches our hero, Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) for a dangerous mission. He is charged with getting invited to a super-secret ping pong tournament held by the evil Feng (Christopher Walken). Once at the tournament, Feng will finally be able to be caught in the act of evil. On top of that, Feng also just happens to be behind the death of Daytona's father (Robert Patrick).
However, before Daytona can go off and face the bad guys, and in true kung fu fashion, he has to go off and train under a master to gain the skills needed to succeed in his task. The master is Wong (James Hong), who runs a Chinese take-out joint with his niece, Maggie (Maggie Q). Long story short, he gains the skills he needs and heads off to the tournament where he faces off with his enemies new and old.
It really is a pretty funny movie. Balls of Fury works particularly well if you are a fan of kung fu flicks. Overall, it is great just to have a spoof comedy that works, more or less, from start to finish. All too often we are saddled with movies that just grab scenes from other movies and string them together in the hopes that a narrative will appear. This film takes the better approach: pick one film and spoof the hell out of it. Do all of the jokes land? Of course not, but how often do you see a comedy where every single joke hits the mark? Probably not too often. Still, even when the jokes don't land, the cast still pulls it off.
Tha cast makes it work. In particular, Christopher Walken as Feng is fantastic. He is Walken playing Walken, complete with his inimitable speaking cadence. Also, Dan Fogler is a new comedic talent, more than just the next Jack Black. And I cannot forget James Hong. He has been in so many movies and nails it every time. He is one of those actors whose name you may not recognize, but you will recognize the face.
For more details on the film itself, see my review of the theatrical release.
Audio/Video. Nothing to complain about here. The 5.1 audio does the comedy justice, not to mention the Def Leppard tunes. The widescreen video is crisp and clear, no problems at all.
Extras. There are a couple of bonus features to take in:
- Deleted Scenes. There are a total of seven deleted scenes, none of which would have added much to the film. (6.5 minutes)
- Alternate Ending. This is just an added scene that could have been tacked onto the end in order to tease a sequel. (>2 minutes)
- Balls Out: The Making of Balls of Fury. This is a rather fluffy featurette, but writer/director Robert Ben Garant and writer/co-star Thomas Lennon (both from Reno 911!) are both pretty funny. There are also interviews with the all of the lead actors. Not terribly in depth, but still worth a watch. (14 minutes)
- Under the Balls: The Life of a Ball Wrangler. A spoof featurette focusing on Irina, the film's ball wrangler and the difficulties that go along with it. (5 minutes)
Bottom line. Great? No. Funny? Yes. Definitely worth a peek. The DVD is not terribly loaded; I cannot help but think that a commentary with the director and a few cast members would have been great. If you like your comedy dumb and laced with crotch shots and '80s rock, this is for you.