Coming to theatres from directors Rob Minkoff, Mark Koelsier, Chris Bailey, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures is PAWS OF FURY: The Legend of Hank.
Ika Chu (Ricky Gervais) wants their town castle perfect, absolutely perfect for the visit of the Shogun (Mel Brooks). The one thing in his way is the little town of Kakamucho and its town people.
Enlisting the help of the Shogun, Ika Chu finds an unsuspecting samurai and convinces him to protect the town. Hank (Michael Cera) is a dog in cat country who is not received well by anyone and when he shows up in Kakamucho, well, they are not very welcoming. Hank discovers in the local jail a name named Jimbo (Samuel L. Jackson) who has a drinking problem because of something that happened a long time ago.
Hank realizes that Jimbo can teach him how to protect the town. Reluctantly agreeing, Jimbo tries his best to train the dog to have cat like reflexes. Watching this is a young and nimble Emiko (Kylie Kuioka) who also wants to be a samuri but Ika Chu has other plans and sends more and more warriors to try and destroy the town, including a huge Sumo (Djimon Hounsou).
That is until Hank has an idea that might save them, sometimes you have to think like a cat to be the most loyal dog!
Cera as Hank gives us the shy pup who left everything he knew because of an crazy alley encounter to study to become a samurai. Having it thrust upon him unexpectedly, Hank tries to put on a good posturing but everyone sees right through it, especially Jimbo. Wanting to fit in takes time and trust, and both of those things are not in great supply. Cera is charming as he always is.
Jackson as Jimbo is witty, drunk, smart and knows what he knows. Trying to get Hank to listen becomes quite a challenge and he must change his own thinking to train Hank for the battle to come. Jackson is witty and has a line delivery that is pure perfection.
Gervais as Ika Chu is ruthless, mean spirited and also delivers lines that cut with samurai sword precision. He is good at being bad! Hounsou as Sumo does not speak much but when he does, it is poetic and adorable.
Kuioka as Emiko is a very strong-willed young girl but she definetly has what it takes to be a part of the fight. As Yoda said, “judge me by my size do you?” because she may be small but is a powerhouse of talent and skill. Yeoh as Yuki just wants to make sure her daughter is safe but begins to see what she has to offer.
Takei as Ohga gives us his famous tag-line and makes it work each and every time. His charm just oozes off the screen as he leads the army into the battle for Kakamucho.
Other cast include Aasif Mandvi as Ichior, Cathy Shim as Little Mama, Gabriel Iglesias as Chuck, Michelle Yeoh as Yiki and George “oh myyyy!” Takei as Ohga.
Okay, first of all let me get this out. This film is basically an animated version of the 1974 film BLAZING SADDLES. People of a certain age, probably 35 and over if your parents were cool like I was then, will understand the jokes and the characters. From Gene Wilders “Jim” to Harvey Korman’s “Hedey Lamarr” THAT’S HEDLEY, to Mel Brooks’ “Governor Lepetomane to Alex Karras’ “Mongo”, they are all in the film.
The exception is that Cera’s character of Hank is not like Clevon Little’s “Sheriff Bart” as Hank is a dog who is looking to become a samurai. The only thing they have in common is that they become sheriff in a place where they are not wanted. Also, Sheriff Bart was clever and hilarious.
I appreciate what was tried here but I am not sure I understand the need for it. All the jokes and humor are wasted on the little kids who were there to see a fun film. What happened instead is that their parents were the only ones laughing, the kids were lost in the first ten minutes. Asking my granddaughter what she thought and her reply, “it was KUNG FU PANDA with cats”, out of the mouths of movie babes!
One character that resonated with the kids is, of course, Kuioka voicing the very tough and talented Emiko. This kiddy-cat is keenly aware of what is happening in her town, who is responsible and what must be done to set it all right. Emiko is also the only one who sees potential in Hank without judgement and that’s pretty cool.
Take the family for a Saturday trip into martial arts and a look at understanding and a bit of fun!
In the end – prepare to crack up!