Let me be honest right off the bat – this movie looked like ass. I mean, ping pong? Even ping pong players know that game is bullshit. It’s a sham sport, whacking that ball real hard and stuff so that the other guy can’t return it. Ok so what if I have some gym class issues?
Balls of Fury is the heart-warming (psych!) tale of 1988 Olympic Wonderchild Randy Datona and his fall from, and eventual reemergence in the sport of ping pong. Along the way he woos the beautiful Maggie Wong (Maggie Q) and learns from Master Wong. The ultimate goal is to topple the crime empire of Feng (Christopher Walken) responsible for the death of his father. He teams up with FBI “Special” Agent Ernie Rodriquez and is wooed by a pretty funny Diedrich Bader.
There’s nothing new here and nothing you would or wouldn’t expect. It’s pretty much by the numbers. Co-writer and co-star Thomas Lennon brings laughs to ever scene he’s in under the direction of co-writer Robert Ben Garant. Lennon and Garant are on a winning streak of late with hits like Reno 911 and Night at the Museum on their resumes. But Balls of Fury?
Ok ok, here is the surprising part. The movie is kind of funny. Never a big belly laugh, but definitely a few chuckles and more laughs than I expected. Relative newcomer Dan Fogler performs well, Walken is Walken, and Maggie Q is criminally hot. George Lopez is hit and miss, at times funny, many times flat. The supporting cast of famous Asian actors lends a nice credibility to it all.
While it’s not a riot, it is worth the time to check it out. I’m not sure if you’ll fall in love with it – probably not though, but it’s not a time waster. You see Maggie Q’s abs enough to make up for the slow parts, which are surprisingly fewer and farther between than one would expect in a comedy about ping pong.
As for the DVD, it has a few decent extras on it. Deleted scenes that don’t add much and an alternate ending that took me 20 minutes to figure out. It’s not clever or difficult, though its worth watching for the punchline. But it took me awhile to figure out why they were there. Without spoiling it, if you’ve having trouble understanding remember this word: Panda.
The other two special features are a good in-depth look at the “Making of” that I found entertaining – again Thomas Lennon shines even out of character. The last is a kind of stupid “Ball Wrangler” short that deals with a hot playboy model in tight pants talking about balls and blue balls and holding balls and kissing balls and… You know what, its worth a viewing.
All in all, while it won’t burn itself into your mind (except for Maggie Q’s abs) it won’t make your eyes bleed and you’ll get a few laughs out of it.
The Upside: Some laughs, Maggie Q.
The Downside: Tough subject to actually make funny.
On the Side: Jason Scott Lee co-stars and the film strangely parrallels Enter the Dragon, of which Lee starred.
Movie Grade: B-
DVD Grade: B