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By Mark Fulton | December 25, 2008

British Pot Smoking Ninjas!! Actually, the ninjas don’t smoke pot. The heroes do. A very affectionate send up of martial arts flicks, Drunken Master in particular, almost reaches silliness that would guarantee required cult status. Nonetheless, plenty of people should get a kick out of it—pun, a little bit intended.

Brighton is under siege from the Army of the Claw. Speaking with an on-purpose extremely fake Italian accent, The Master Claw has world domination plans. Led by two Pythonesque old ladies (aka Pepperpots, unfortunately not played by men in drag), the resistance is defeated one by one. This culminates in a crushing battle at the first third’s end. Depicted with really cool artwork on the DVD cover, blending the battle with some of the cover’s artistic style might be neat.

What are they to do!? Seek the only man who can defeat them: The Chosen One, a master of Ganja Boxing. The Crazy Old Man Who Lives Up A Tree (that’s exactly what he is called), a sexy news woman, and various stoners conspire to get their best hope to The Ganja Master. The Ganja Master, happily, has a cheesy long white beard and long mustache.

The middle drags. If there were one or two more really silly fights, the whole would be buoyed up to something special. As is, there are some pretty funny gags. A fight near the beginning made me laugh very hard at misuse of digital blood. The final fight is also quite funny. They wring the budget well. But it’s pretty obvious they saved the best ideas for the beginning and end. It’s hard to be emotionally involved in a plot that is deliberately derivative by nature. In fact, the obvious plot needs to be the butt of more jokes. The boxer in training sequences could be more ridiculous. As earnest and spirited as the performances are, they don’t have comic invention needed to make up for other shortcomings.

Despite criticisms, I sincerely hope somehow, someway this finds an audience. If you liked Shaolin Soccer, you should like Brighton Wok too.

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