Story

The film begins with 12-year-old Randy Daytona, a ping-pong prodigy competing in the 1988 Seoul Olympics against a rather obnoxious adult East German competitor, Karl Wolfschtagg (Thomas Lennon). Before the match, Randy learns that his father Sgt Pete Daytona (Robert Patrick) has placed a large bet on the game’s outcome with a Chinese Triad crime lord and ping-pong fanatic called Feng (Christopher Walken). Unfortunately, Randy loses the match when he runs into a guard barrier and knocks himself unconscious, and as a result, Randy’s father is murdered by the Triad.

Nineteen years later, an overweight Randy (Dan Fogler) is earning his living performing ping-pong tricks in a third rate restaurant when he is paid a visit by FBI agent Ernie Rodriguez (George Lopez). The FBI wants Randy to infiltrate Feng’s crime organisation via a prestigious underworld ping-pong tournament organised by Feng. However, Randy’s game is not what it used to be, and to bring his game up to scratch the FBI introduce Randy to Master Wong (James Hong), a blind ping-pong master, and his niece Maggie (Maggie Q), a ping-pong master in her own right.

After beating a local champion named The Dragon, a 12-year-old school girl, Randy receives an invite to compete in Mr. Feng’s grand tournament. Randy, Wong and FBI agent Rodriguez board a bus and end up at Feng’s secret base somewhere in central America. Randy learns that the tournament involves games of sudden-death where the loser gets a poison dart in the neck. Randy manages to survive all his matches and move up the ranks to finally face his old rival Karl Wolfschtagg.

Themes

Organised crime, arms dealing, death and revenge

Violence

Balls of Fury contains some martial arts fighting, slapstick violence and accidental harm. Examples of some violence are:

  • In one scene, Randy jumps through a rice paper window and crashes into iron bars. He then falls to the ground.
  • Rodriguez slams a toilet door onto Randy’s arm. We hear the sound of the bone breaking and Randy yelling in pain.
  • In one scene Agent Rodriguez wakes from a dream and fires his gun at a sleeping Randy putting a number of bullet holes in Randy’s bed head.
  • In two scenes a 12-year-old schoolgirl punches Randy in the groin causing Randy to fall to the ground.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8
Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by many of the violent scenes described above and the threatening and menacing characters. The following scenes may also disturb children in this age group:

  • Feng and Randy play a game of ping-pong, wearing electronic vests. Every time Randy loses a point he receives an electric shock. After being shocked a number of times, Randy wins a point and Feng is electrocuted. The shock causes Feng to fall into a lake, the vest short circuits and Feng is electrocuted. We see the water glowing and Feng’s body convulsing.
  • On several occasions a blowpipe is used to murder men; a poisonous dart is embedded into their necks and the men are then dragged out by their feet.

From 8-13
Children in this age group may also be disturbed by a number of the violent scenes and characters described.

  • Randy uses a ping-pong bat to stop a poisonous dart hitting him in the neck he then throws the paddle at Feng’s chief henchwoman. The dart hits the woman in the forehead and she falls to the ground dead.
  • Randy is seen hitting a man in the face and chest with numerous ping-pong balls in a humorous manner. However the man collapses, suffering a heart attack, and subsequently dies.

Over 13
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Sexual references

  • Mr Wong makes the following comments in relation to spending time with prostitutes: ‘hard chase and cheap ugly woman’, ‘laughs at you when you are naked’, ‘she is the only one that I can afford’.
  • Randy and Rodriguez talk about inserting a tracking device in the rectum and they suggest to ‘sneak this in the old fashioned way’. Later the comment is made, ‘A million bucks of hardware up his crack’.
  • While staying in Feng’s compound a lady offers Randy ‘courtesans of pleasure’ and described the courtesans as experts in ‘sensual and erotic arts’. The courtesans are also referred to as ‘sex slaves’. In a related scene in which a squeaking bed can be heard, a man comments: ‘someone’s getting lucky’. Master Wong refers to courtesans as pleasure girls, stating ‘she really knows how to handle a man’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

  • Men and women smoke cigarettes.
  • A man inhales from a medical-looking inhaler, but in a manner more suggestive of drug use. 
  • Bar scenes with people drinking alcohol.

Nudity and sexual activity

This film has some sensuality and suggestive heterosexual and homosexual activity and occasional toilet-like humour. Examples include:

  • A number of scenes of women wearing clothing which reveals thighs, buttocks and cleavage.
  • One scene inferred that the blind Mr. Wong enjoyed having sex with a male courtesan mistakenly believing that the male courtesan was female.
  • In one scene a man grabs Maggie’s buttocks in a sexually suggestive manner.
  • Maggie kisses Randy passionately on the lips while wrapping her legs around his waist; after the kiss, Randy pulls down and straightens Maggie’s short dress, which had risen up during the kiss.

Product placement

One scene contains images of a McDonalds store.

Coarse language

Balls of Fury contains derogatory racial terms, put-downs and coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Balls of Fury is a comedy martial arts and secret agent spoof. The film at best is mildly humorous, relying heavily upon sexual innuendo, racial slurs, sending up visually impaired people and slapstick violence.

The film’s main messages relate to finishing what you started, finding your strengths within yourself, and making sacrifices for those you love.

Parents may wish to discuss the manner in which women are portrayed as sexual objects or submissive possessions and the bad sportsmanship displayed by competitors who play against Randy.