Fury [1936]

Balls of Fury will score points with anyone who ever wished that Enter the Dragon played out in the subterranean "underbelly of ping pong" instead of the world of martial arts. Tony Award-winner Dan Fogler (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), joining the ranks of Jack Black, Seth Rogan, and Jonah Hill as a schlub (romantic?) hero, stars as Randy Daytona, a Def Leppard-loving ping-pong wizard who, as a 12-year-old, was disgraced at the 1988 Olympics. Nineteen years later and gone to seed, he is reduced to performing a novelty act in Reno until an FBI Agent (George Lopez, and yes, at one point, he will proclaim, "Say hello to my little friend" a la Al Pacino in Scarface) recruits him to infiltrate an underground ping pong tournament run by Feng (Christopher Walken), the arch villain who killed Daytona's father. Co-written by Reno 911 colleagues Robert Ben Garant (who also directed) and Thomas Lennon (who costars as Daytona's taunting East Berlin rival), Balls of Fury is hit and miss, but it fitfully kills with some ace performances, including Walken, bringing more cowbell, as Feng, resplendent in silks and red fingernails (his Christopher Walken impression, while perhaps not as uncanny as Kevin Spacey's or Jay Mohr's, is dead-on). James Hong puts a wicked spin on the clich├ęd role of mentor, and action babe Maggie Q rocks as his niece. Look quick for David Koechner as hopeless entertainer Rick the Birdmaster, Patton Oswalt as an obnoxious early opponent, Kerri Kenney-Silver as a showgirl, and Diedrich Bader as one of Feng's imprisoned sex slaves (don't ask). With less go-for-the-groin humor than the title might indicate, Balls of Fury brings its A-game with some subversive bits of business, such as an ominous moment that is undercut when a menacing character is forced to re-enter the scene to ask for directions back to the highway. --Donald Liebenson

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