When business titan Mr. Simpson’s (Lawrence Brooks III) spoiled daughter Adrina (Megan Williams) is kidnapped by a rival businessman Mr. Rivers (Damon Mescudi), he finds the cops to be of little help. With no other options left, Mr. Simpson turns to a donut-craving private investigator, Tyrone (Tyrone Campbell), who seems to be successful in spite of himself. Tasked with finding and returning Adrina safely, Tyrone brings his friends Old Skool (Harold Nesbitt), who is living in an analog reality bubble he’s constructed for himself, and Kung Fu (Chef Marcus Kirkland), a learn-kung-fu-at-home salesman who may or may not actually be a real master, into the case. Will the trio find and save Adrina, or will complications born of their individual pasts distract them too much?
Tyrone Campbell’s Kung Fu, Old Skool & Tyrone is a goofy experience. Very campy with an ever-present sense of humor, the film is narratively all over the place while it attempts to tell its simple tale. Where many a narrative seeks to move forward, this film seems to know how short that journey would be, so it expands the middle as much as possible, for good and bad.
There’s a lot in the film that is funny, but the editorial nature seems to be taken from how a cartoon like Family Guy operates. Thoughts inspire immediate flashbacks, off-hand comments become their own mini-scenes. It has its charm, but it also can feel haphazard at times. Unfocused.
Which is part of the film’s charm. It is full of ideas, and it’s not afraid to try as many as it can if it thinks there’s an opening, but it doesn’t always seem to get that some ideas don’t deserve that long a look. But just when I think it’s too confused and goofy, it makes me smile.
Right now, I think there’s probably a really solid seventy-something minutes of a film here if it got another editorial pass, one that trimmed down some sequences that are allowed too much space, and altogether removed others that are too distracting. At its current running time, though, it does feel too scattered. But I know the film settles into a groove around the mid-way point, after the heroic trio has assembled and the film focuses more on playing out its story than working out more of its goofiness.
There are also technical good points to be had throughout. Some visual effects are pretty weak, simple composition work, but others are pretty impressive (the subtle, perfectly integrated heads-up display Mr. Simpson utilizes, for example). If the film has a visual style, it’s definitely along the lines of “try a little bit of everything,” but it does work far more often than it doesn’t.
Overall, I found Kung Fu, Old Skool & Tyrone to be pretty charming, though a little too meandering and unfocused for my tastes. Another pass through the editing bay, coupled with some additional audio mixing, and I think it’d be closer to something I’d want to watch again.
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