Making the Grades
When he was a boy, Randy Daytona (Brett DelBuono) was the Number 2 guy in the world of professional ping-pong. Then a fateful match with East German contender Karl Wolfschtagg (Thomas Lennon) crushed the young man's hopes of ever reaching the top.
Now, several years later, Randy (Dan Fogler) earns his keep in seedy clubs doing ping-pong ball tricks. And that is where he is found by Ernie Rodriquez (George Lopez), an FBI agent desperately trying to capture a Chinese criminal named Mr. Feng (Christopher Walken). Convinced they only way to catch this ping-pong-passionate crook is by infiltrating an underground tournament, Rodriquez coaxes the down-and-outer back into the game.
To help the reluctant Randy dust off his competitive skills, he is introduced to Master Wong (James Hong), who is rumored to be a supreme teacher of the sport -- although there are some questions about his real abilities when it's discovered he's blind. However, his beautiful and apparently unbeatable daughter Maggie (Maggie Q) seems to make up for these shortcomings, and provides Randy with incentive to focus on his task. After days of painful training (thanks to some strange Martial Arts moments and kicks to the crotch), the pupil is prepared to enter the ultimate championship under the rule of Mr. Feng. What he isn't ready for is the literal interpretation of "sudden death" in the obsessive tyrant's rulebook.
While billed as a comedy, the movie offers a dark story with just a few moments of mildly humorous antics. Most of its attempts to get laughs rely on sexual innuendo, racial slurs, and insults of visually impaired people. The bulk of the script comes off as improvised -- in the worst way possible -- with performances that are weak and outright foolish. (If this had been Christopher Walken's first role, I don't know if we would ever have seen this capable actor again...)
Not surprisingly, there are content concerns throughout; including verbal sparring about male anatomy (like the double meaning of the film's title), an extended sequence involving male courtesans, and a scene where tracking transmitters are put into private body cavities. Fortunately, the situations are more verbal than visual, stopping the "gross out" humor just short of being excessive, but that's hardly an endorsement for family viewing. With only the tiniest of redeeming messages about overcoming childhood fears to recommend it, Balls of Fury quickly fizzles into one of the lamest comedies to be served this year.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Balls of Fury.
If you’re interested in the sport of Ping-Pong, you’ll find an amazing wealth of information from around the globe at: www.pongworld.com
Is it table tennis or ping-pong? The debate of what these terms mean continues. Read this article by a historian from the governing body for the Olympic Sport of Table Tennis in the United States.