Balls of Fury (Rogue Pictures, PG-13)

bof002Walken, who spoofs himself as Feng, is for some reason dressed as a flamboyant Dracula throughout the movie, creating some decently funny visual jokes.





Balls of Fury is another in a long line of recent movies that has focused on marginalized games or activities being seen as serious sports. Blades of Glory, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Beerfest are all examples of this recent string of movies that have, at times, hit the mark, but usually fall flat. Balls of Fury was written by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon and directed by Garant, two of the creators and stars of the hilarious Comedy Central mockumentary series Reno: 911!. If you've seen the show, you can pretty well guess what you're in for with Fury.

After being disgraced at age 12 at the 1988 Olympics, ping pong prodigy Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) is given another chance to utilize his true calling. He is enlisted by FBI Agent Rodriguez (George Lopez) to infiltrate an underground ping pong tournament run by the notorious and elusive Mr. Feng (Christopher Walken) who the FBI have been trying to capture for years.

At first, Daytona is apprehensive. He has spent the last 19 years performing afternoon shows in Reno, Nevada (wink, wink), being introduced by a parakeet. But after a little encouragement from Rodriguez and Master Wong (James Hong), Daytona agrees to begin training with Hong's niece, Maggie (Maggie Q), who is imparts her skill and knowledge to the rusty athlete.

There are a couple of good things about Balls of Fury that make it worth watching. First is Fogler, whose background in musical theatre won him a Tony for his Broadway performance in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He is not widely known to film-going audiences yet, but he will be soon. The second, and possibly more attractive, aspect of the movie is Lennon as Karl Wolfschtagg, Daytona's nemesis in the tournament. Lennon is over the top, aggressive, loud and offensive, the complete opposite of his character on Reno: 911!. There are also several brief fight sequences involving Maggie Q, coordinated by Chad Stahelski who worked with Q on Live Free or Die Hard, and has worked on the Matrix films and last year's 300.

In terms of plot, don't expect much, but that's not the point of the movie. The storyline is just filler for the movie's jokes and performances. Walken, who spoofs himself as Feng, is for some reason dressed as a flamboyant Dracula throughout the movie, creating some decently funny visual jokes. Why Lopez was cast in this, or any other movie is a mystery, as he comes off as nothing but a talking prop whenever he is in front of a camera.

Garant stays true to his Comedy Central roots by including plenty of recognizable cameos mixed with ridiculous encounters and circumstances that seem hardly out of the ordinary for the characters. Funny? Yes. Entertaining? Yes. Worth your hard-earned money at the box office? You'll have to gamble on their balls and see for yourself. | Matthew F. Newlin


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