PAWS OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF HANK – A Review by Cynthia Flores

PAWS OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF HANK – A Review by Cynthia Flores

Who knew that the 1974 R-rated film Blazing Saddles would reincarnate itself in 2022 as a PG-rated kid’s animated action movie? I know people that have seen Blazing Saddles would argue, “what does an offensively twisted humor-soaked western have in common with a Samurai story set in the land of cats?” Well, I can tell you in just two words, Mel Brooks. He directed, co-wrote, and co-starred in Blazing Saddles. And, in this new film, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, he co-wrote, co-starred, and executive produced the film. A big feat considering his age of 96 years young. 

On the surface, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is a straightforward (pardon the pun) underdog story. A down-on-his-luck hound Hank (Michael Cera), has illegally immigrated to a town run by cats. He’s on a quest to find a Samurai Master to train under. Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of crossing the path of a ruthless villain named Ika Chu (Ricky Gervais). Ika Chu is building the most magnificent palace for the Shogun (Mel Brooks), and he hates the little grungy town in the valley that is a blight on his perfect view from his perfect palace. So he devises an evil plot to wipe the village off the map and uses Hank as his fall guy. Ika Chu sends Hank to the village to be their Samurai thinking the town will tear him to bits. By doing so, he can legally kill them for daring to kill a Samurai. But the town does not kill him. Instead, he meets his reluctant teacher and disgraced Samurai Jimbo (Samuel L. Jackson). Jimbo takes a chance on Hank and trains him in the ways of the Samurai. Along the way, there are many trials and temptations for Hank. And the evil Ika Chu is still plotting to get his way and destroy the town. Will Hank be able to survive and become the Samurai he believes destiny has called him to become no matter the odds? Well, you will just have to see the film to find out.

I was surprised by how much I liked this movie. My seven-year-old niece loved all the visuals and ninja stuff, and I laughed out loud at all the not-so-hidden jokes. You have to give Mel Brooks credit for being intelligent and talented enough to bury so many jokes from Blazing Saddles in plain sight and still keep it at a PG rating. Not to mention it’s worth the price of admission to hear Jimbo, in full Samuel L. Jackson’s voice and bravado, swear at the top of his lungs at Hank. You will never hear WTF is going on here the same way after you hear him do it in a totally PG way. 

It’s also fun for the adults in the audience to hear heavy hitter actors and actresses in this film. Such as George Takei, Aasif Mandvi, Gabriel Iglesias, Djimon Hounsou, Cathay Shim, Kylie Kuioka, and the iconic Michelle Yeoh lend their distinct voices to these zany characters. 

I give Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank 4-stars. It’s a kid’s film that will probably become a late-night cult classic. But, for now, it’s a great way to beat the heat. See it in theaters this summer.

 

Directed by: Chris Bailey, Mark Koetsier, Rob Minkoff

Written by: Ed Stone, Nate Hopper, Mel Brooks

Rated: PG

Running Time: 1h 37min

Animation, Action, Comedy

Wide Release: Only in Theaters July 15th

Starring: Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, George Takei, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh

 

The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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