Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 36
 
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.


RANDY DAYTONA MEETS HIS NEMESIS KARL WOLFSCHTAGG AGAIN: In an invitation only tournament amongst a select group of the best ping pong players in the world, sponsored by Feng, a fugitive on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, Karl Wolfschtagg (Thomas Lennon) once again faces Randy Daytona (not shown). Randy has been recruited by the FBI to be a part of the tournament in order to help capture Feng.

Balls of Fury: FBI Recruits Retired Ping Pong Player in Spoof of Karate Classic

Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) was a promising ping-pong prodigy when, at the age of 12, he was thoroughly humiliated at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea by his German adversary, Karl Wolfschtagg (Thomas Lennon). Now it's been almost twenty years since Randy has played competitively. Washed-up, his career has been reduced to performing tricks as a lounge act at a dinner theater in Reno.

So, it's no surprise that he seriously considers coming out of retirement when the FBI wants to enlist his assistance in finding a fugitive on its Ten Most Wanted List. Not only is Feng (Christopher Walken) the mastermind of an international criminal enterprise, but he also is the cold-blooded killer who murdered Randy's father (Robert Patrick) many years ago.

Agent Ernie Rodriguez (George Lopez) explains to Randy that the elusive Feng, who has never been photographed, is about to stage an invitation only ping-ping tournament featuring the best players in the world. The plan is for Randy to work himself back into good enough shape to be among those summoned to the site of the top-secret tournament. This will enable him to infiltrate Feng's criminal operation and also avenge his father's murder and reestablish his reputation amongst his peers.

In order for Randy to achieve these goals, he first has to embark on an intense training regimen. Therefore, the FBI hires blind Master Wong (James Hong) who, with the help of his irresistible niece Maggie (Maggie Wong), proceeds to whip Randy back into world-class form.

With a plotline suspiciously similar to that of the Bruce Lee martial arts classic Enter the Dragon (1973), Balls of Fury is a zany spoof which substitutes ping-pong for karate while seizing on every opportunity to inject computer enhanced images to improve slapstick and sight gags. Although a few of the jokes simply fall flat, this laugh-a-minute adventure is so earnest in its endeavor to keep the humor coming, that you're likely to find yourself guffawing heartily right on the heels of another bit that just made you groan.

The movie was written and directed by Reno: 911's Ben Garant, which explains why this production is marked by much of the same sort of insanity found on the TV show. The film's success is attributable primarily to the inspired performances of a talented cast capable of elevating a script that tends to present what would be considered offensive stereotypes.

For instance, Christopher Walken's vintage performance as Feng is so over the top, it makes you forget the patently political incorrectness of a white person playing an Asian.

The film's cast includes Aisha Tyler as Feng's blowdart wielding henchwoman, along with Reno: 911's Kerri Kenney, veteran character actor David Koechner, and Terry Crews. Balls of Fury provides a breakout role for 2005 Tony Award-winner Dan Fogler, a gifted comic who comes across like a combination of John Belushi and John Candy, exhibiting the former's impish, unbounded enthusiasm, and the latter's endearing twinkle-in-his-eye charm.

Just remember to check your brain at the box-office.

Excellent (3.5 stars). Rated PG-13 for profanity, crude behavior and sex-related humor. Running time: 90 minutes. Studio: Rogue Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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