Photo: ‘Paws of Fury’
A Background On ‘Paws’
‘Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank’ is a 2022 film that was directed by the trio of Chris Bailey, Mark Koetsier, and Rob Minkoff. The story follows Hank who is a dog who lives in a world that is seemingly inhabited only by cats and dogs. In this world cats and dogs live separately due to hate for one another but Hank, who is an aspiring samurai, travels to a small cat village where he is appointed Samurai by the evil Ika Chu. Ika Chu hopes that Hank will not be able to protect the small town and that the town will succumb to a variety of attacks executed by Ika Chu so that Ika Chu can obtain the perfect view from his palace as the view is currently obstructed by the small village. Hank then is trained by an old samurai named Jimbo in hopes that he gains enough skills to defeat Ika Chu’s attacks and save the small village.
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While this plot may be a tad too intricate for children to completely follow I believe that it does strike a decently good balance between being somewhat intricate and simple enough for children. ‘Paws of Fury’ most definitely has aspects for both children and adults, especially in the film’s comedy. On the subject of the film’s comedy, Mel Brooks touch can be felt all over this film which was for the most part a welcome surprise with one major exception which I will get into later. Overall ‘Paws of Fury’ has many varying elements on the positive and negative side of the spectrum present throughout. Here they are in detail.
The Good of ‘Paws of Fury’
The biggest compliment I can pay this movie is that it is at times actually funny. With the help of Mel Brooks many of the jokes which are thrown out land quite effectively. There is without a doubt comedy for the whole family with jokes that even parents will find amusing. This is in my opinion the greatest aspect of ‘Paws of Fury’ and the main reason why I would ever recommend it to somebody.
Another part of ‘Paws of Fury’ which I found to be quite enjoyable was its world-building. The world that ‘Paws of Fury’ creates is not like our own and has its own rules and social practices. This is seen when it is introduced that cats and dogs live apart from one another due to a growing hatred between them. The world itself also mixes parts of ancient Japan with the modern world and modern English to create a unique space that cannot be found in any other type of media. ‘Paws of Fury’ is unique in that it creates a place of its own for its story to take place in.
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Finally, one other part of ‘Paws of Fury’ which stood out was the voice acting performances. ‘Paws of Fury’ has a variety of big names attached to itself including but not limited to Michael Cera, Mel Brooks, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, Michelle Yeoh, and Djimon Hounsou. All of these actors give real life to their characters through their voices. Samuel L. Jackson especially does an amazing job voicing Jimbo who is Hank’s samurai trainer. All of these voices give the characters in the film new depth and really add to the film as a whole.
The Bad Side of ‘Paws’
On the other hand, there are also many aspects of ‘Paws of Fury’ which stand out in negative ways. The most egregious example of this is the lack of originality which I believe exists within the film. It is one thing to be inspired by another film and it is another to steal scenes from it entirely. This is a problem that plagues ‘Paws of Fury’ as the film blatantly steals a scene that is crucial to the film’s overarching story from Mel Brooks’ ‘Blazing Saddles’. This is a scene that I believe fits most well in ‘Blazing Saddles’ due to the film’s screwball tone. This same tone is not found in ‘Paws of Fury’ and thus, the scene feels out of place. Adding onto this, the addition of this scene does not give off the homage that I believe the writers were going for and instead adds a layer of thievery to ‘Paws of Fury’. Apart from this, the film overall lacks certain qualities which could enable its story to stand out. The characters in the film touch on action movie tropes but then fall into those same tropes themselves. This forces this film to blend in with many other similar action films and will no doubt lead to ‘Paws of Fury’ being forgotten soon after its viewed by its audience.
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Another negative aspect of ‘Paws of Fury’ which I wish to touch on is the film’s comedy. Now I am aware that I mentioned the film’s comedy as a positive thing but that does not mean that all of the film’s jokes were intricately crafted or nuanced. In fact, much of the film’s comedy left the auditorium silent. Now I am not saying that all of the jokes in a film need to land but when you are stuck on a success rate of around 50% then a problem begins to arise. While not all of the comedy present in the film was cringeworthy, too many jokes fell flat for it not to be mentioned in an official review of the film.
‘Paws of Fury’ Altogether
All in all, ‘Paws of Fury’ is a perfect afternoon movie for parents to turn for the kids when it is too hot to be outside, soon to be forgotten when the temperature decreases. While at times the film may be fun, cute, and even funny, altogether, I believe that ‘Paws of Fury’ is too much like every other film in the zero-to-hero genre of moviemaking to recommend to someone. The film lacks standout moments, consistent comedy, and most importantly an original story for the audience to follow the hero along. After all, how could ‘Paws of Fury’ compete with a film like ‘Rocky’, which stands next to ‘Paws of Fury’ in terms of genre and story? Put frankly, it can’t.
Directors: Chris Bailey, Mark Koetsier, and Rob Minkoff
Writers: Ed Stone, Mel Brooks, Nate Hopper, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Alan Uger
Cast: Michael Cera, Mel Brooks, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, Michelle Yeoh, and Djimon Hounsou
Producers: Mel Brooks, Phil Brown, Eamonn Butler, Ed Stone
By Nathaniel Lee
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