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'Kung Pow' Video Packs Extra Punch

17 May, 2002 By: Fred Topel

Unlike spoof movies that simply recreate scenes from popular films, director/star Steve Oedekerk actually inserted himself and other actors into an existing film — Jimmy Wang Yu's actioner Tiger and Crane Fist — for his martial arts parody, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.

Released in January, Kung Pow earned $16 million in a small theatrical run and its July 23 DVD release from Fox Home Entertainment gives Oedekerk a chance to let viewers in on the process, beginning with several audio commentaries.

The first is a director's track which explains how Oedekerk redubbed all the voices himself and reveals which scenes have new footage, which ones were shot new and which ones have visual effects.

“It's a puzzle and most of the puzzle is invisible,” Oedekerk said. “It's interesting in terms of which actors — even the ones I physically interact with, like Ling — when it's her and when it's not her. There's just a lot of neat stuff that I think people will get a kick out of knowing. [It's a chance to] give credit where credit is due to people that are, a lot of times, the silent heroes, like the stunt guys and the visual effects department.”

A second audio track will have all of the original dialogue, including both the Chinese voices from Tiger and Crane Fist and the fake dialogue actors spoke in Oedekerk's new footage that was later dubbed to make the film look like a dubbed kung fu movie.

“The sound quality will be a little lacking because we weren't really particular about how we were mixing things, but I'm definitely going to have that as a track. It's absolutely insane listening to what everybody's really saying. Just a lot of people saying inane gibberish. Of course, during the shoot I'd stay up late at night trying to make sure I was writing creative dialogue because I figured it would be up on the DVD one day. You'll find the original film's characters filmed 25 years earlier — all speaking in Mandarin — sometimes conversing with myself or other present-day actors speaking nonsensical lines. It's also a good behind-the-scenes look at what characters were from the old film.”

A third audio track, just for fun, is the “Kung Pow Book on Tape version.”

“It consists of a proper English gentleman reading all of the characters' lines in a very proper, ‘Book on Tape' kind of way,” said Oedekerk. “It's pretty funny to hear this proper English actor saying ‘Weeooweeooowee' and such.”

Oedekerk also wanted to have a Mr. T. audio track with the famous “I pity the fool” actor reciting the lines, but didn't have time.

Fans will also get to learn more about the dubbing process in a collection of scenes with alternate dialogue. These are not deleted scenes, but rather scenes from the film that had previously been constructed with Oedekerk dubbing different lines.

“We would try out so many different options, I thought it would be fun to include a few of the runner-ups,” he said.

There will also be deleted scenes, one of which is a musical number with the original nonsense lyrics recorded on the set.

“There was a big sort of Broadway play kind of song in the film. Everybody loved it, but I had a problem with the pacing. We'll definitely stick it on the DVD.

“My favorite part of that song was that the original song that I was really singing was about Sam Donaldson, so that was one of my biggest things I hated about taking it out. It's this wonderful song about Sam Donaldson, and it's very complimentary, this epic ‘Sam Donaldson is Great' song. So, on the DVD I'm going to put the original song and the dubbed version.”

Other fun extras include a “Tonguey Tribute,” showing scenes of the character who emerges from Oedekerk's tongue in a single montage; “Fond Farewell,” with characters from the film thanking everyone for watching the special features; and “A Panicked Thumb,” an outtake from Oedekerk's Thumb Wars parody. Between menu screens, the characters Chosen One and Evil Betty act as virtual hosts, popping up to crack jokes.

Oedekerk went to such lengths to pack his film with extra features because he is a lover of DVD himself.

“I don't know if it's all filmmakers or just me, but the DVD is one of the most fun things,” he said. “They're working great on a monetary level for studios, but just as a filmmaker, what a great thing that you can lock for eternity interesting portions of a production and other people that were involved.”

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