An auteur is a filmmaker who showcases artistic control over a film and stamps it with an unmistakable fingerprint of their style. Names like Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch come to mind when listing some of the more well-known auteurs in the history of motion pictures. Often an auteur not only directs a film, but writes the screenplay and, in some instances, may even star in their own film (Welles in “Citizen Kane”). Modern day auteur Steve Oedekerk, director/writer/producer/star of “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist,” attempts in his third feature film to create a martial arts spoof of extraordinary magnitude.
“Kung Pow” follows the adventures of The Chosen One (Oederkerk), a martial arts master who seeks revenge on the man who killed his parents. The film begins in a flashback with The Chosen One as an infant. After the arch villain Master Pain murders his parents with his deadly “iron claw,” The Chosen One is abandon but not before a standoff between the poorly animated CGI baby and Master Pain, complete with bathroom humor and physical comedy. From here the “comedy” follows Oederkerk as he encounters a one breasted woman, a fighting cow, a bowflex, french aliens and a legion of asian fighters.
The film incorporates footage from the 1976 Jimmy Wang Yu picture “Tiger & Crane Fists” and digitally inserts Oederkerk as the ass-kicking protagonist. The special effects are pulled off well considering the miniscule budget of “Kung Pow.”
Inane spoofs of recent films “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and “The Matrix” compose a fair share of the unfunny material presented. “Kung Pow” is audacious enough to rip off a joke from the classic British comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Bastards.
Oederkerk is best known for directing and writing the lackluster “Ace Ventura” sequel “When Nature Calls.” Other writing credits include the Martin Lawrence comedy “Nothing to Lose” and the recently released “Jimmy Neutron.” While Oederkerk”s filmography is laden with sub-par movies, perhaps none is more disastrous than his screenplay for the 1998 Robin Williams tripe “Patch Adams.”
In terms of martial arts comedies, “Kung Pow” fails to attain the level of hilarity achieved by the “Enter the Dragon” spoof “A Fistful of Yen.” The coinsures of spoof, the Zucker brothers David and Jerry, created “A Fistful of Yen” as the centerpiece of their 1977 debut “The Kentucky Fried Movie.”
At a mere 81 minutes, “Kung Pow” seems like a war epic. The viewing can be most aptly associated with watching a nursing home resident attempt to run the 110 meter hurdles. Yes, director Steve Oederkerk can be officially labeled an auteur. And as an auteur, he is the sole individual to blame for the poo poo platter that is “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.”