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Balls of Fury


Stars: Dan Fogler, Maggie Q, Christopher Walken, George Lopez, Diedrich Bader, Thomas Lennon, Aisha Tyler, James Hong

Director: Robert Ben Garant

Hollywood comedies right now seem awash with tubby, fuzzy leading men. One of the most resistible has to be Fogler (the plastic surgeon from Good Luck Chuck). The balls in question are table-tennis balls, and Fogler's a one-time child prodigy at the sport who cost his father's life after a fall at the world championships: Dad (Robert Patrick), who had bet his shirt on the outcome, is dispatched by henchmen of the sinister Feng (Walken, enjoying this more than the audience).

Two decades later, Randy, now an unwashed lowlife who's more pong than ping, is corralled by the FBI into helping them capture Feng via his illegal table-tennis tournament at a Central American hideout. It's a sudden-death penalty shoot-out, in which the penalty is....well, death.

Re-trained by a blind master (Hong) and his daughter (Maggie Q, the bad girl from Die Hard 4.0), Randy storms to the final against an old adversary (Lennon).

Though not exactly boring, the film contains almost no laughs, is homophobic and racially incorrect and has an absurd sequence in which Randy is required to beat off a hive of bees with a table-tennis bat (he would, of course, have been stung to death, although this is critics' wish-fulfillment).

A cast of well-known names who have to pretend to like this unlovable slob should all have known better, but none more so than Jason Scott Lee who, a dozen years back, was a rising star in such films as Dragon - the Bruce Lee Story, Rapa Nui and The Jungle Book, and has lost so little of his good looks that you can only wonder whatever happened.

All you can say about the script is that it's better than writer-actor Lennon's last one, for Reno 911! Miami.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Universal. Technicolor.
90 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 21 Dec 2007