Balls of Fury
The prospect of a comedy about table tennis isn’t a particularly exciting one; somewhere over the course of Dodgeball, Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory and Hot Rod, the comedic possibilities of idiot sportsmen ran out of puff some time ago.
Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler, star of Good Luck Chuck, the impoverished man’s Jack Black) is a one-time table tennis prodigy recruited to revenge the death of his father Pete (Robert Patrick) by infiltrating a crime lord’s island tournament. This lame take on the Enter the Dragon/Kickboxer genre initially sets writer/director Ben Garant on course for the same paltry returns of his laugh-free Reno 911:Miami feature, but the welcome arrival of master-criminal ping-pong fanatic Feng (Christopher Walken) lifts Balls of Fury onto the Airplane! level of deadpan parody.
Dressed in the most elaborate gown and wig since Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Walken sends himself up in phenomenal style, letting fly with endless wise-guy mannerisms while muttering asides under his breath about how he’d rather be at home watching Antiques Roadshow. Veteran TV character actor James Hong also gets good mileage from bad-taste jokes as Daytona’s blind mentor Master Wong, and Maggie Q provides the requisite glamour as Wong’s sexy niece. Sports films have provided a simple paradigm for US comedians to craft elementary vehicles for their first forays into film and Balls of Fury represents no great improvement in a threadbare genre, but at least Walken puts in a proper shift as a Christmas panto villain. (Eddie Harrison)
General release, from Wed 26 Dec.