Sunday 24 July 2022

REVIEW: Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank - Starring Michael Cera, Ricky Gervais, Mel Brooks and Samuel L. Jackson

Review by Jon Donnis
Paws of Fury is one of these films that seem to take forever to be released, originally due for 2017! And you can tell as there are a few slightly dated references, a big Gangnam Style number perhaps the most obvious.

Anyway, the film itself is a loose adaptation of the 1974 Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles, and is full of big-name actors voicing the characters, including Michael Cera, Ricky Gervais, Mel Brooks, George Takei, Aasif Mandvi, Gabriel Iglesias, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Set in Japan and a land inhabited by talking cats, we are quickly introduced to Ika Chu, a warmongering  Somali cat, voiced by Ricky Gervais and based on Hedley LaMarr from Blazing Saddles. Ika Chu is a high ranking official of Shōgun of Kakamucho, Toshi played by Mel Brooks, which is basically a version of Brooks' role as Gov. William J. Le Petomane from Blazing Saddles.

Ika Chu is the baddie in this film, and Ricky Gervais plays the character well, although I always think any time a well-known actor plays the part of a cartoon character, that character needs to look a bit like the actor, sadly in this film no one looks anything like the actor playing them, which is a bit strange, because young kids won't know who these people are, so they should have given adults something to notice.

Any who, Ika Chu has a big palace, and it is perfect, well almost, the problem is right next to the palace is the village of Kakamucho, and basically it spoils the view so Ika Chu wants it wiped out, so sends gangs of thugs to destroy it. The village has a Samurai to protect it, but flees when he sees the invasion.

The villagers need a new Samurai, and the Shogun orders Ika Chu to appoint a new one, not knowing that he was behind the invasion.

With this being a world of cats, Ika Chu decides to send Hank (Michael Cera) a beagle dog who was about to be executed, and who dreams of being a samurai, based on Sheriff Bart from Blazing Saddles. Since dogs are illegal in the village, he believes that the town will just kill him.

At first the town wants to kill him, but eventually Hank manages to get Jimbo (Samuel L. Jackson) to train him as a Samurai. During the training Hank manages to take down Sumo, (Djimon Hounsou) a giant dim witted cat sent to destroy the village, by doing this the village finally learns to believe in Hank. Of course, this new found acceptance goes straight to his head, and Ika Chu convinces Hank to go to a club and celebrate (insert outdated Gangnam Style party scene), and while partying the village gets devastated by more thugs since Ika Chu knew Hank wouldn't be there to protect them.

Hank leaves the village in shame when he realises what happened, but of course comes back for the redemption story.

Paws of Fury is a simple yet fun story, a nice enough kids film, that is littered with adult references to keep the parents who are dragged along to see it happy.
The animation throughout is decent, some interesting styles used, voice acting is all good as you would expect from the big name actors.

The film at times feels a bit of a rip off of films like Kung Fun Panda, yet it is based on a 1974 film so perhaps they can get away with a bit here and there.

The Good
Fun story, nice animation, satisfying ending. Only 85 minutes, which the characters like to remind the audience, in a few breaking of the 4th wall moments.

The Bad
I hate films that break the 4th wall, especially cartoons, it is not clever, and kids wont really understand it.

An enjoyable animated film, perhaps not a cult classic, but will surely deliver a sequel or two.

Good for the kids, and since that is who it is aimed at, they will ultimately decide if it does any good or not.

I score Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank a solid 7/10
Out in Cinemas Now! And you can pre-order the Home Entertainment release at