Movie: Balls of Fury (2007)
Director: Robert Ben Garant
Starring: Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, James Hong
Written by: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
You might think that Christopher Walken would be the show-stealer in this tale of ping-pong glory. You’d be wrong. As a Fu Manchu wannabe gangster, Walken certainly tears up any scene he appears in. The absurdity of seeing him dressed in all manner of formal Chinese attire is as hilarious as it is weird. Yet there are three characters in Balls of Fury who upstage him.
The first is a jacked-up German with a perfect blond flat-top and spandex battle gear who serves as the hero’s ping-pong nemesis. Played by Thomas Lennon (Reno 911’s Lieutenant Dangle), Karl Wolfschtagg storms through the film, ready to throw down on anyone in his way. Lennon’s wide-eyed intensity is kind of awesome.
The second is Diedrich Bader, who portrays a tank-topped concubine in Walken’s man-harem. Sent to the hero’s bedchambers, he has to spend the night or die. Undeterred, the hero and the man-whore have a rockin’ night playing Boggle and hanging out. Bader plays his character with a delightfully dimwitted optimism that I’m sure is absent from most male prostitutes.
Yet the best performance in Balls of Fury is that of James Hong, who once more serves admirably as the token dirty old Asian. Best known for his role as the crazy old wizard Lo Pan of Big Trouble in Little China, Hong turned “Indeed!” into a cult classic password. Hong’s role in Balls of Fury mixes Lo Pan’s fixation on honor with the more earthly creepiness of his role in Revenge of the Nerds II and his ambiguously gay persona in Totally Awesome! As Walken’ blind former mentor, Hong reluctantly takes on his round-eye protégé to obtain satisfaction. He plays this role with such an imperious witlessness that he is a joy to watch.
Considering all this, the fun in Balls of Fury becomes less about the story itself and instead in watching the crackpot characters which populate it. Indeed, the main characters are often less compelling than the supporting cast. As hero Randy Daytona, Dan Fogler – who seems to be getting typecast as a Belushi-via-Jack Black – pretty much autopilots on the wildman schtick he improved upon as a Star Wars geek in Fanboys. In total, he’s more fun than George Lopez’s FBI straight man, but Lopez commits an act of desperation in the film which boosts his character past the hero.
The concept of Balls of Fury is ludicrous, but that works in its favor. You might think that an epic comedy about ping-pong wouldn’t work out. You’d be wrong.