Director: Robert Ben Garant
Cast: Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, Maggie Q, George Lopez, James Hong, Thomas Lennon
Have you ever heard of a sports film being made on table tennis or ping pong? Nope, I don't think you have. Hollywood usually makes films about basketball, baseball, football, soccer, car racing etc. But ping pong? Seriously. But hey, there's a first time for everything, so here now we have Balls Of Fury, a huge comedy with tiny balls, as the tagline reads.
The protagonist in this film is Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler), a former child prodigy in table tennis, who was humiliated at the 1988 Olympics by a German player, Karl Wolfschtagg (Thomas Lennon). It was at this same venue where Randy's father Pete (Robert Patrick in a cameo) gets killed by a gangster for losing a bet on the match.
Now, in present time, Randy works in Vegas, performing parlour tricks surrounding table tennis, when he gets a visit by FBI agent Ernie Rodriguez (George Lopez). Lopez tells Randy of an underground ping pong tournament being organised by Feng (Christopher Walken), the same gangster who killed Randy's father. The FBI need Randy to get himself invited for the tournament and infiltrate Feng's hideout. So Randy gets himself back into the game, but finds that he doesn't possess the magic that he once had.
Lopez then takes Randy to Master Wong (James Hong), a blind old man that once trained Feng, to learn the finer points of the game. It is through Master Wong, and sparring sessions with his beautiful niece Maggie (Maggie Q), that Randy finally gains the skill he needs to take part in Feng's tournament. Will Randy succeed in getting his revenge?
Oh well, if you've watched comedies such as this, you can answer that question easily. Let me start off by saying that this is one comedy you shouldn't take too seriously. It relies on slapstick humour a lot, and the jokes are the kind that would make 10 year olds laugh from start to finish. But hey, even adults can enjoy this, if they leave their logic at the door. Director Robert Ben Garant, who co-wrote the screenplay with Thomas Lennon, keeps everything light, and even manages to pay tribute to 80s rock by having Def Leppard's music in the background.
Fogler plays the unlikely hero Randy the way we would root the underdog guy that doesn't look like a movie hero, and it works. But I do find it a little hard to accept Maggie Q as his romantic interest, since they look quite mismatched, and the story doesn't quite give them time to strike up the right chemistry to make it believable. Walken isn't at his funniest here, though he does look hilarious wearing old Chinese outfits as his costume. What I do like seeing is James Hong as the Yoda-like Master Wong. He gets the best lines and scenes in the film, hands down. There are also some worthy cameos in this film, such as Jason Scott Lee, Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa and Heroes star Masi Oka.
If you want some light hearted material, Balls Of Fury will do just fine for a few laughs. (3.5/5)