Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank Review
Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (2022) Film Review, a movie directed by Chris Bailey, Mark Koetsier and Rob Minkoff, written by Ed Stone, Nate Hopper, Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor and Alan Uger and starring Michael Cera, Ricky Gervais, Samuel L. Jackson, Kylie Kuioka, Mel Brooks, George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Aasif Mandvi, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Cathy Shim, Steve Apostolina, Kirk Baily, Steve Blum, Ranjani Brow and David Chen.
Michael Cera is right at home voicing the character of Hank, a would-be dog samurai warrior who aids a town of cats in the new animated comedic action picture, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank. Cera has played a human hero before in one of his best films, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and his soft-spoken voice adds a tremendous amount of charm to Hank which makes the character a lot of fun. With the vocal talents of Ricky Gervais and Samuel L. Jackson backing Cera up, the new animated movie is a blast to behold even if there’s not a whole lot of substance beyond the basic “you can do anything you put your mind to” premise.
Djimon Hounsou voices the over-sized Sumo who is one of the first characters that Hank has to confront to prove himself worthy of being the samurai warrior that he knows he can be. Hank just has to get over some of his minor insecurities. Hank befriends the little Emiko (Kylie Kuioka) whose mom is Yuki (the voice of the always reliable Michelle Yeoh). Samuel L. Jackson’s inspired voice performance as Jimbo keeps the film funny and fans of Jackson will revel in his hysterical turn here. Jackson pays homage to his past phrases from his more adult themed films here and comes up aces with a hysterically on-point character.
Ricky Gervais is the major villain of the movie, Ika Chu, whose goal is to make Hank fail in his quest to aid the town of felines and, this being the movies, Ika Chu wants to take over the town for his own wicked, profiteering scheme. Ika Chu employs the use of a large toilet bowl through his henchmen which makes for some of the film’s funniest scenes. When the toilet doesn’t work right, characters tend to hilariously suggest “jiggling the handle” and the huge toilet serves as the confrontation place for good vs. evil towards the film’s end where the movie lovingly pays homage to The Empire Strikes Back.
Ika Chu takes Hank to a nightclub at one point to pretend that Hank is popular while ninjas secretly tear up the town where Emiko and company reside. This provides dramatic tension in the story line as Hank must rebuild the trust from the townsfolk and, eventually, prove that he’s worthy and capable of saving their way of life.
Mel Brooks (who co-wrote the movie) is also well-cast as the voice of the Shogun who appears in the movie to literally remind audiences the picture is 85 minutes (minus credits) and Brooks has some zingy one-liners that make for some inspired scenes. The Shogun has trusted Ika Chu to keep things in order but the Shogun will learn the truth about what is really going on with the very dishonest Ika Chu by the film’s end. Ika Chu is simply trying to become the most powerful one in town and has little consideration for others. He’s a classic villain, to be certain.
Michael Cera is the central VIP here. He keeps his character funny and heroic. When Hank busts Sumo out of jail, he wants to mark his territory like a dog usually does but other characters remind him there’s no time for that. Cera keeps Hank tremendously likable throughout the film with his inspired characterization. Jackson is a terrific older and wiser teacher for Hank. Jackson reminds us here exactly why he is a screen legend. Gervais revels in a hilariously wicked portrayal of Ika Chu as well. Nobody can do sarcasm as perfectly as Gervais can.
There are a number of action scenes here. If you liked Kung Fu Panda, you’ll most likely appreciate them. I am not big on ninjas and samurai fighting but I enjoyed the new movie overall despite this fact. Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank does a fantastic job of entertaining the every day viewer even if one does not really adore samurai warriors. For example, it’s cute how Hank, when asked for his autograph, hits a stamp of ink with his paw and then puts it on to a piece of paper. It’s the minor details like that which carry the film along in-between the action sequences and make it energetically fast paced.
Then, there’s that over-sized toilet bowl which keeps coming into the movie. Jiggling the handle helps when things go awry with it except at the end when Hank and his friends must save the day from an overflow of water that threatens to destroy their town. The fact that I wasn’t sure if Hank and company would ultimately save the day is the reason why this movie works. It’s unpredictable and gloriously animated making it a successful picture that is perfect for family audiences to see at the movies this summer.
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