Balls Of Fury

Gotcha/Focus Features

Review in a Hurry:  This Ping-Pong-themed spoof of low-budget spy thrillers and martial-arts punchfests gets a few wicked shots in...but too often finds itself without a paddle.

The Bigger Picture:  Poor schlub Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) is a Ping-Pong wizard with a humiliating past, recruited by an FBI agent for a secret mission involving underground Ping-Pong battles, secret societies and an amazing number of kicks to genitalia. Probably that last one isn't integral to the plot, but since it's a go-to bit in the comedy department, it bears inclusion.

All junk-kicking aside, Balls of Fury isn't completely unfunny, but the quality control bounces all over the place. One moment you might be having a chuckle, and the next you're watching Fogler and George Lopez perform an oddly framed, clumsily performed scene you wouldn't want on any audition tape. Fogler does have a hangdog charm, and James Hong, as Randy's wizened tutor, Master Wong, has some great moments—despite being overloaded with insulting stereotypes (Dirty Crazy Old Asian Man, Mr. Magoo, probably others).

The action picks up during the Ping-Pong scenes, as it should, but these rallies are too short to do anything but give a jolt to a film that needs a smoother ride. The multipurpose spoofing lobs bombs at such a mishmash of targets (The Fast and the Furious, Bloodsport, James Bond) that Balls of Fury ends up taking too many wild shots to keep the ball on the table.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  If you remember with even slight fondness the oeuvre of Messrs. Van Damme, Seagal, Speakman and so on, there might be enough comic touchstones here to make Balls of Fury a worthy rental.

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