Brief Review: Balls of Fury (2007)

From the creators of Reno 911! comes Balls of Fury, a farcical comedy that mingles Enter the Dragon with Blades of Glory and … Ping-pong? It’s a completely bonkers idea that would have worked well, if only it wasn’t hampered by a script that is bereft of originality. Balls of Fury is an absurd sports comedy that relies more on the natural talents of the cast than the script.

At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, America’s ping-pong prodigy Randy Daytona (Brett DelBuono) is seemingly destined for a gold medal. Randy’s father, Sergeant Pete Daytona (Robert Patrick), is so sure of the outcome he foolishly places a bet with mysterious Triad leader Feng (Christopher Walken). After a shocking defeat by East Germany’s Karl Wolfschtagg (co-writer Thomas Lennon) leads to his father’s murder, Randy enters into a downward spiral.

Nineteen years after his fall from grace, Randy (now Dan Fogler) has resorted to showcasing his skills in low-level sideshows. Upon learning that Feng is hosting an underground ping-pong tournament, the FBI assign agent Rodriguez (George Lopez) the task of coaxing Daytona out of retirement and getting him in shape for the tournament.

Here is a film that’s built on a wonderfully asinine premise, but the premise alone, however amusing, does not prove to be a firm foundation. The script is considerably weak, with the bulk of the story lifted from Enter the Dragon. Dragged from the lower levels of mediocrity by its legitimately funny cast, Balls of Fury works best when everybody slips into their comfort zones. Fogler’s a likeable lead, Lopez inexplicably impersonates Tony Montana and Walken is just bizarre. Entertaining for the most part, but it all feels a little too safe.

Despite its obvious flaws, Balls of Fury is still a consistently amusing comedy. Revelling in its absurdity, this is a prime example of movie Marmite; you’ll either love it or hate it.

3-stars

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