Thursday, November 08, 2007

BALLS OF FURY: Tiny Balls, No Brains

BALLS OF FURY (ping-pong comedy)

Cast: Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez and Maggie Q
Director: Robert Ben Garant
Time: 88 mins
Rating: * (out of 4)

Pic: Lopez, Hong and Maggie Q
While watching this movie, two questions ran through my mind: What possessed the film-makers to produce such crap? And what infernal weed were the scriptwriters smoking when they wrote this drivel? The simple explanation would be that the screenwriters had not really written the script themselves; they must have picked up a few discarded pages each from hare-brained flicks like “D.O.A: Dead Or Alive”, “Talladega Nights” and “Blades Of Glory” and put them together for this infantile effort. Either that, or they had used chimpanzees to do the script.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? “Balls Of Fury” is about a ping-pong prodigy called Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) whose career in the sport is cut short by his father’s mistake at the Olympics in Seoul. Now reduced to a nightclub act in Vegas, Randy is approached by FBI agent Rodriguez (George Lopez) to help nab an evil arms dealer known as Mr Feng (Christopher Walken). The big deal is that it was Mr Feng who killed Randy’s dad, and the FBI wants Randy to get back in shape so that he can qualify for a table-tennis tournament organised by Feng and infiltrate his hideout.
Now, guess who gets to help Randy train for the big match? Yeah, it is the oriental sex-pot Maggie Q (you must have seen that one coming) who plays the niece of the blind Master Wong (James Hong), owner of a ping-pong school in Chinatown. Please suspend disbelief a little more because, horrors of horrors, we see Maggie inexplicably falling for the pudgy Randy like he is the only kwai-loh (white man) on Earth! (No, you won't ever see that coming!).

HITS & MISSES: “Balls Of Fury” turns out to be a disaster because some scenes that are supposed to be funny aren’t; and those that are not supposed to be comical, are! Also, many of these gags have been explored by Chow Sing Chi in his comedies like “Shoalin Soccer” and “Kungfu Hustle” – with much better results.Another comedy attempt that turned out to be a wet blanket is the sequence involving a male sex slave for Randy. That sequence is more cringe-inducing than funny. The same goes for Walken’s performance in this ‘walk-in, walk-out’ role for him. Heavily made-up to look like a Chinaman, the Oscar-winner takes it upon himself to ham-it-up so much that he looks utterly pathetic. We can only wonder how much he is paid to make such a fool of himself (and if it was worth it).

The one star who really deserves the salary is Maggie Q. She energises the screen with her sultry looks and kungfu stunts. Too bad, she appears out of place among such a group of bland and ornery-looking guys. Fogler is terribly miscast here. It is hard to root for such a perpetual loser and one who cannot be genuinely funny. The supporting cast, including James Hong and Brandon Lee, have a field day overacting and behaving like clowns. Problem is, nobody’s laughing.

THE LOWDOWN: To end this review, I would like to apologise to the chimps. It is not fair to associate them with such an unfunny comedy about tiny balls and no brains.


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