With a title like 'Balls of Fury,' you'd expect some raunchy laughs and good deal of outrageousness. Curiously, this martial arts satire from the creators of the much funnier cable series 'Reno 911!' is limp and dull. Thanks to a sloppy, anemic script and indifferent direction, 'Balls of Fury' lacks the stones to be genuinely entertaining.The idea of parodying kung fu movies by replacing swinging fists with ping pong initially sounds giggle inducing, but writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon seem to have let their inspiration climax after coming up with the title.
The plotline owes an enormous debt to "Enter the Dragon." A criminal mastermind named Feng (slumming Oscar-winner Christopher Walken, who's much funnier in "Hairspray") holds an underground table tennis tournament where the contestants compete as if their lives depended on it. Losers won't get a second chance if they fail.
An ambitious FBI agent (George Lopez) thinks he can finally bust Feng if he can recruit a top player to compete. His choice, Randy Daytona (slumming Tony-winner Dan Fogler) choked in the Olympics during the 1980s as a teen prodigy and needs a chance to redeem himself.
From here, Garant, who also directed, and Lennon attempt to poke fun at Kung Fu movie clichés and deliver several annoying Asian stereotypes.
In his prime, Mel Brooks could get away with being horribly politically incorrect in movies like "Blazing Saddles" because he wisely went after any ethnic group he could think of. There was something liberating about the fact that he went after everyone with equal zeal.
It also helped that Brooks was as funny as he was offensive.
Garant and Lennon, however, stick us with characters who recite corny bits of eastern 'wisdom' that fail to satisfy. Daytona's blind mentor (James Hong) warns, "It is better to die like a tiger than live like a pussy." Most of the wordplay is that tepid.
The sight gags are similarly frigid. It takes an appallingly infertile imagination to feature three crotch kicks in a single movie. The filmmakers may have been impeded by the PG-13 rating, but something tells me more profanity and innuendo wouldn't have helped this film out. Perhaps the unrated version of this film will feature 10 crotch kicks.
The main reason that "Balls of Fury" should never have been made is that Hong Kong filmmakers like Jackie Chan and Stephen Chow have already done a better job of making fun of martial arts movie conventions. There are more laughs, production value, action, audacity and imagination in five minutes of Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle" than in all of "Balls of Fury."Chow understands that viewers don't want anything less than his best. The makers of "Balls of Fury," however, simply leave their audience with sloppy seconds.