Kung Pow: Enter the Fist : Production Notes

Steve Oedekerk loves 1970s Hong Kong martial arts films, especially their exaggerated visual style, bizarre music and thunderous sound effects. As a young boy he fantasized about being in one, and now he is…literally.

After acquiring a little known 1976 karate picture, “Tiger & Crane Fists,” Oedekerk substantially altered the film and its dialogue track by placing himself digitally into the old film, redubbing the characters, and shooting new scenes. He seamlessly blended portions of the original picture with the new material he directed, resulting in a half-old/half-new, wild, comedy feature film: Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002).

Oedekerk, who serves as KUNG POW’s director, writer, producer and star, explains: “We headed down to Mexico, rebuilt the old film’s sets, body-doubled the actors and integrated new characters, storylines and effects. It’s pretty cool. I have a love scene with an actress whose part was filmed twenty-five years ago! It’s kind of like making out with your mom…wait a second, that’s not good.”

KUNG POW is easily the wildest comedy I’ve ever done,” continues Oedekerk, who’s no stranger to off-the-wall humor, having written “Nutty Professor, The (1996)” and “Patch Adams (1998),” and written and directed “Nothing To Lose (1997)” and “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995).”

Oedekerk began KUNG POW’s ambitious creative process by looking at over one hundred Asian action films. Eventually he came across “Tiger & Crane Fists.” “Its characters were screaming out, ‘DUB ME!’” remembers Oedekerk. And so he did, transforming the past actors into entirely new characters, conforming their dialogue and actions to his original screenplay.

Oedekerk dubbed everyone in the film, including himself and the other new actors he cast. This seemingly simple idea proved to be a much bigger challenge than he had planned. “I’d sit up all hours of the night during the shoot, writing fake dialogue for the next day,” Oedekerk recalls. “It was like writing two different scripts. One insane and one really, really insane.” Principal photography often was quite bizarre, with the actors engaging in completely nonsensical conversations. (Oedekerk plans on including the actors’ actual conversations on the KUNG POW DVD.)

With the exception of the character Whoa, played and dubbed by Jennifer Tung, Oedekerk himself dubbed all of the remaining voices. “We didn’t really plan it that way,” he explains. “I had to write the screenplay while sitting at the edit desk, as we cut and rearranged the old footage. I grabbed a microphone and started scratching in character voices and dialogue, not knowing they’d wind up the final voices. When it came time for me to voice cast the dubbed parts, everyone was like, ‘What are you talking about? What you’ve already dubbed – those are the characters!’ So as it turns out, the whole film is pretty much me talking to myself.”

The filmmakers restored as much as possible, the original film’s tattered negative, but much of its gritty, seventies-era picture quality remained. According to Oedekerk, it was critical that the new footage have the authentic feel of the genre.

“There’s a real style to the old martial arts films,” he notes. “They had like no money to make these movies, so there’s a very down-and-dirty style about them. Little lighting to speak of, rough camerawork – and don’t even think about moving the camera with a dolly. Zooms only, please.”

This presented unique creative and technical challenges to match the “new” to the “old.” Oedekerk explains: “The low quality mandate was a bit strange for the crew. I’d be in dailies hearing myself say, ‘Okay, this footage looks way too good, we’ve got to lower our standards people! The camera’s too steady! Faster zooms! Let’s get some dirt on that negative!’”

Other standout effects sequences include a kung-fu fighting infant and a Karate Cow that even resorts to shooting milk to thwart her aggressors. “It’s tough to find a cow that can even stand on two legs, let alone one who’s versed in the martial arts,” Oedekerk deadpans. “Not to mention, a lot of cows are very sensitive about flashing their udders around in public.”

Between restoring the old footage, degrading the new footage, and creating new, computer generated characters, KUNG POW is entering the digital effects elite. “First we passed ‘Pleasantville’ then “Titanic” and finally “Star Wars – Episode One,” resulting in more FX shots than any film in history!” Oedekerk laughs. “The irony being, of course, that we’re using state-of-the-art, cutting edge, effects to make our film look kind of old and crummy.”

In KUNG POW, Oedekerk’s cinematic alter-ego, The Chosen One, is looking to avenge the death of his family at the hands of the seemingly invincible Master Pain (who early in the story inexplicably changes his name to Betty). Playing a “supporting” role is Tonguey, a creature inhabiting the Chosen One’s tongue.

Other characters who figure prominently in KUNG POW are the Chosen One’s love interest, Ling; the proctologically inclined Master Tang (“He’s got real issues,” says Oedekerk); the hapless Wimp Lo, who was purposely trained wrong by Master Tang as a joke, and the uni-breasted knock-out, Whoa.


STEVE OEDEKERK (The Chosen One, Director, Writer, Producer) has quickly established a multi-faceted career that includes directing, writing, acting, stand-up comedy and animation.

He has written and directed films that have grossed over $800 million in worldwide box office, including Golden Globe nominated “Patch Adams,” starring Robin Williams. In addition, Oedekerk has appeared in the top comedy clubs in America, starred in his own specials, and created television specials for NBC, ABC and UPN. In the world of animation, he has created original programming and supports them with groundbreaking technology.

Oedekerk’s wide array of current projects also include a guiding role in the “Jimmy Neutron” multimedia franchise, with Nickelodeon and Paramount, and producing “Juwanna Mann” for Morgan Creek and Warner Bros., to be released in January, 2002.

Oederkerk’s company, O Entertainment, is also leading the way with the first IMAX 3D animated film, “Santa vs. the Snowman,” slated for release November 2002.

Oedekerk created “Thumbmation” technology, which will mark its debut in a series of Thumb Parody projects to be distributed worldwide on DVD and video by Image Entertainment. Kicking off the series is “Thumb Wars,” a send-up of the “Star Wars Trilogy.” Five more films will follow in 2002, including “Thumbtanic,” “Bat Thumb” and “The Godthumb.”

His writing credits include some of the most successful movies of the nineties. While writing on the Fox series “In Living Color,” Oedekerk collaborated with Jim Carrey on the surprise hit comedy “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” With the film breaking box-office records, Oedekerk wrote and directed its sequel, “Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls,” which proved to be one of those rare sequels that actually out-grossed the original.

Following the success of “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995),” Oedekerk wrote Universal’s “The Nutty Professor,” which became one of the highest-grossing films of 1996. He also wrote, directed and appeared (in a scene-stealing cameo) in Touchstone Pictures’ “Nothing To Lose,” starring Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence. On the small screen, Oedekerk directed, wrote, produced and starred in his own television special, NBC’s “steve.oedekerk.com,” collaborating with John Davis and Keith Alcorn’s DNA Productions.

Oedekerk resides in Southern California with his wife, two children and a badger, pound for pound known to be the most vicious mammal on the planet.

LEO LEE (Young Master Pain) has worked in numerous films and on television, both as an actor and a stunt man. His motion picture acting credits include “Swordfish,” “The Replacement Killers,” “Contact,” “City of Industry,” “The Shadow,” “Double Impact” and “Kindergarten Cop.” His television work includes appearances on “Martial Law,” “Nash Bridges,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” and “Baywatch Nights.”

Lee was a stunt man on films such as “Blade (1998),” “Escape From L.A. (1996)
.,” “Mortal Kombat (1995),” “Rising Sun (1993),” “Showdown in Little Tokyo” and “Black Rain (1989).”

JENNIFER TUNG (Whoa) grew up in the Bay Area before relocating to Los Angeles. Her passion for acting led her to audition for the Fox series “The Masked Rider,” in which she landed a role as an evil sorceress. That led to her being cast by Chuck Norris as his daughter in the 2000 television film “The President’s Man.” A sequel to the film, again starring Norris and Tung, will air in January, 2002.

Tung’s numerous TV guest-star appearances include a recent stint opposite Quentin Tarantino on “Alias,” plus recurring roles on “Angel,” “The Pretender,” “Murder in a Small Town X,” and “Charmed,” and a guest spot on “The King of Queens.”

Tung also continues to pursue independent film projects, such as the action comedy “She Said She Loved Me,” from “Pokemon” executive producer Toshiaki Okuno. Also due out in 2002 is the drama “Contagion” and the short film “The Unkindness of Ravens,” the latter airing on HBO in April, 2002.

TOM KORANDA (Producer) began his career as a coordinator / assistant director / unit production manager on several independent feature film, series and cable projects. He was a staff producer on the Chanticleer Films / Showtime Networks series “30 Minute Movies,” for which he was nominated for a CableAce Award. Koranda co-produced the Academy Award®-nominated, live-action film short “Contact,” starring Brad Pitt and Elias Koteas.

After establishing several independent feature film production companies, Koranda produced “The Hiding Place,” starring Timothy Bottoms and Kim Hunter. He then was hired by writer-director-producer Steve Oedekerk to join Oedekerk’s O Entertainment. There, Koranda was production executive on “Thumb Wars” and on the feature animated comedy “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” as well as serving as a producer on Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002).

PAUL MARSHAL (Producer, Editor) began his career as an editor, working on a variety of magazine and reality-based programs for cable and broadcast networks, including NBC, Fox, PBS, The Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel. He was supervising editor on the award-winning PBS series “Future Quest,” hosted by Jeff Goldblum, and a producer for the Sci-Fi Channel series “Mysteries from Beyond the Other Dominion.”

Marshal spent the next three years as the supervising producer for the globally- syndicated, groundbreaking series “Weird TV,” about which Rolling Stone commented, “It makes the X-Files seem like Family Affair.”

In 1997 he was hired by O Entertainment, the cutting-edge production company founded by Steve Oedekerk, to help develop and produce unique television and film projects. Marshal has been involved in a number of different projects for O Entertainment, serving as supervising producer on “steve.oedekerk.com,” a prime-time NBC special; “Santa vs. The Snowman,” an animated Christmas special for ABC; and a pilot for Nickelodeon, “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which became a television series and, recently, a major motion picture. Currently, Marshal is producing O Entertainment’s thumb movie parody series, featuring “Thumb Wars,” “Thumbtanic,” “Blair Thumb” and “Frankenthumb.”.

Marshal continues his work in development and as a producer on a variety of other O Entertainment film and television projects. He lives in Southern California, and always requests extra dressing with his salad.

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