Kung Pow

Kung Pow (2001)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Steve Oedekerk
Extras: Commentary Track, Alternate Audio Tracks, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, and much more

Steve Oedekerk is known for his zany humor and the way he applies it to all sorts of films. Whether he is writing ’Ace Venture: When Nature Calls’ or creates his won short films, such as ’Thumb Wars’ his uncanny humor and observations are shining through radiantly. ’Kung Pow’ is his latest feat.

It would be easy to dismiss ’Kung Pow’ as a simple spoof on martial arts movies, but in fact it is a loving homage to the genre and it is evident that Oedekerk not only mocks these films, but also has quite a bit understanding of their structure, contents, formula and clichés. With all that in mind ’Kung Pow’ never mocks these films mindlessly but instead plays with the genre elements, putting them into different contexts to create funny moments, or exaggerating them to the hilarious.

Oedekerk took Yu Wang’s 1977 film ’Shao Lin hu ho chen tien hsia’ – better known as ’Tiger and Crane Fist’ in the US – and gave it his own stamp. In practice this means he re-edited the entire movie, he digitally reworked many of the film’s scenes, adding digitally created or enhanced characters to the shots and placing himself as the main character into the film. The result has very little n common with the original movie, but instead creates a spectacularly hilarious film of its own.
Whether it’s the falsetto dubbing, the scenes that are taken entirely out of context or the Kung Fu Cow, Oedekerk is very carefully in picking his gags and jokes making sure to time them for maximum impact.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is presenting the movie in its 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio that is enhanced for 16×9 TV sets. The transfer is very good and very clean, although occasionally limitations and defects of the original ’Tiger and Crane Fist’ print are shining through. A good deal of restoration went into that footage however, making for a very pleasant viewing. Colors are well reproduced, and the transfer has good blacks that create a balanced image with finely delineated shadows. The transfer is free of compression artifacts.

The DVD also contains a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track that is a bit understated, although surrounds are sued frequently and to good effect. A natural frequency response and dynamic range guarantee a good presentation.

Fox and Oedekerk filled this DVD with some great extras. First off is an insightful commentary track by Oedekerk. As expected it is informative and funny, making it evident where the inspiration comes from and how he approached the project. The disc also contains alternate audio tracks, such as the original Cantonese ’Tiger and Crane Fist’ track and the ’Long-lost Book-on-tape’ version – a hoot!
Deleted scenes and outtakes are also part of the release, offering even more laughs. A great extra is the comparison of the before-and after shots. This segment is almost too short, but gives viewers a good idea how the film was created and how the film’s shot have been tweaked digitally to meet Oedekerk’s needs. A ’Making Of’ Featurette and a look at the Kung Fu Cow animatics are also included, as well as the movie’s trailer and promo spots.

I can see that a few people may be offended by ’Kung Pow’s’ approach to the martial arts genre, as nothing remains untouched. But at the same time, if you are familiar with these films and can accept the fact that they lend themselves to spoofs as much as any other genre, ’Kung Pow’ is just a perfectly silly romp that will have you laugh out loud from beginning to end. I had a great, giggling time with ’Kung Pow!’