Two of my favorite comedies are Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and the first Mortal Kombat(well perhaps it wasn’t meant to be a comedy). Films that have slapstick humor with a good sporting event of where the underdog wins in the end over their lavishly dressed opponents. Balls of Fury was to take that one step further by going into the dangerous underworld of Ping Pong and parody old kungfu tournament stories in the process. With an array of famous character actors including Christopher Walken; how could one not enjoy the game the Chinese call “Peing Poong”?
Randy Daytona (played by Dan Fogler) used to be a famous ping pong player. He lost in 1988 Olympics after losing his composure to Karl Wolfschtagg (played by Thomas Lennon ) and got a nasty bump on the head in the process. Nearly twenty years pass when Daytona, now a Reno side show act is recruited by Agent Ernie Rodriquez (played by George Lopez) to compete in arch-criminal Feng’s (played by Christopher Walken)ping pong tournament. However, it’s invitation only. So in order to get recognized, he is taught by Master Wong (played by James Hong ) and his niece Maggie (played by Maggie Q).
As one could expect, this movie is not meant to be taken seriously. Basically they took elements of various kungfu movies such as Karate Kid, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, and Mortal Kombat and spliced it with what would be a ping pong tournament. Instant comedy? Right, right? Sort of. The acting is certainly there, with many strong actors and actresses as it turns out. Kung fu legends such as James Hong, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, & Jason Scott Lee all play memorable roles and are cast perfectly. Christopher Walken despite walking through his role as Feng plays a great bad guy including a “wardrobe that looks like it came from an Elton John garage sale” (one of the better lines in the movie).
But what is ultimately wrong with Balls of Fury is the script. It’s just not that funny. Sure there are some nice one-liners and some hilarious situations, but they all seem to start hard and finish flat. It seems to cut many scenes short where it shouldn’t have. I understand that it needs to stick to the ninety minutes time-frame but a lot of it just seems to be rushed. The training part of the movie should have played out more like Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins while the tournament should have been more played out like Bloodsport or Mortal Kombat. One could also question the lead role of Randy Daytona. No offense to Dan Fogler but he seems better suited in a supporting role. I would have loved to see somebody the caliber of Ben Stiller or Rob Schneider play Randy as I think the character needed to be played more over the top than it was.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The colors are good and the movie certainly tries to look like a quality production. The picture is done very well and while not being fantastic or anything does a very decent job. It also helps that actresses such as Maggie Q are very easy on the eyes.
5.1 Dolby Digital Mixes are provided for both English and French counterparts. If you like the sound of a ping pong ball going back and forth, this might just be your favorite movie of all time. The surrounds show off the little white ball going back and forth until your heart’s content. (like I haven’t reviewed enough dvds about the sounds of little white balls going back and forth) Anyhow, subtitles are also provided in English SDH, French and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: Golden Compass, Fan Boys, & Rush Hour 3
- Deleted Scenes: Seven scenes removed from the main feature. Not much of note here except a couple of creepy scenes involving Randy’s Dad, Sgt. Pete Daytona (played by Robert Patrick)
- Alternate Ending 1:50: An alternate ending that takes the film down the path of a proposed sequel and a joke that goes on way too long. Thankfully, they kept with the original.
- Balls Out: The Making of Balls of Fury 13:56: A rather funny “making of” which highlights many of the films moments intertwined with various actors from the film. Highlights how it parodies many famous kungfu movies such as Karate Kid and Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.
- Under the Balls: The Life of a Ball Wrangler 5:16: Mix one hot blonde, Irena with sarcasm and lots of jokes about balls and blue balls. When stirred correctly, you have a 5 minute special about somebody who takes cares of balls for the movie Balls of Fury. Does she work by the hour or by volume?
Balls of Fury is the very definition of a movie that I wanted to love. A great cast of characters, mix in some parody about ping pong and kung fu and even an ode to Def Leppard was included. However, somewhere along the way it lost its way. The script seems weak and every time a scene gets going it seems to lose that something that makes it memorable. The dvd is pretty good providing quality video and audio and a few extras. However, kinda like the movie; there is just something missing from the tale of little white balls and the men who play with them. Perhaps, if they have taken more time to examine the movies they paid homage to, we would have come up with something a lot more funny. Okay movie, just could have been so much better.