Heroic Dog Rescues Cats in ‘Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank’

‘Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank,’ the animated kids’ film produced by Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies, features ‘Star Trek’’s George Takei as the voice of Ohga, a massive Manx cat. Ohga is the henchman for the small sinister Somali cat, Ika Chu, voiced by Ricky Gervais. Photos by Eric CHARBONNEAU


Special to the CV Weekly

From the beginning of time, dogs have chased cats, cars and even sticks but rarely dreamt of being a samurai. In “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank,” the tables are turned and cats have the upper paw as the gatekeepers of Kakamucho, a small village set in Japan. Dogs are not allowed among this tough cat crowd.

Sounds easy but, in the land of cats, dogs cannot be samurais. It’s the rules.

When a naïve, down on his luck dog named Hank (voiced by Michael Cera), a samurai, shows up as the appointed protector of the cats, they are not welcoming. Determined to break the cat ceiling, Hank explains to the town cats how he will be their new protector, according to the warlord and the shogun (voiced by 96-year-old Mel Brooks).

There is a sinister motive behind the hasty appointment of Hank by the warlord Ika Chu, a Somali cat (voiced by Ricky Gervais). Ika wants Kakmucho destroyed to allow a better view of the palace. The unsuspecting Hank has no clue that he’s a pawn in Ika’s plot; he just wants to be a samurai.

With the help of the massive cat Ohga (voiced by the original “Star Trek” franchise’s George Takei), the top lieutenant and slightly clueless right-hand henchman to Ika Chu, the evil plans are underway. Takei’s character is not the brightest sidekick, which is quite a departure from his role as the controlled Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu in the first years of the “Star Trek” franchise.

Kylie Kuioka voiced Emiko.

Hank is ostracized by several generations of cats but they desperately need a samurai to keep them safe. He is literally the underdog as he tries to convince the cats and himself that he is the answer to their prayers.

Retired samurai Jimbo, a tuxedo cat (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson), is not impressed by Hank but reluctantly agrees to train him using tough love. Turns out years before Hank arrived to cat town, Jimbo secretly saved Hank when he was cornered in an ally by vicious dogs. Jimbo fell from grace when he botched a surprise birthday party for the shogun.

Audience reactions were mixed about the “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank.” Moviegoer Michael Love from Vienna, Austria, said, “The movie takes the premise of cats vs. dogs and tries to send the message that an outsider can be accepted, albeit barely and only after a ton of discrimination. This message needed to be delivered properly but ‘Paws of Fury’ lacked endearing moments with sincere characters.”

Maile, age 8, said, “It was fun but Stella is not like the mean cat (Ika Chu).” (Stella is her family’s cat.) Her brother, Makai, age 10, said, “It reminded me of ‘Kung Fu Panda.’”

While most of the adult and toilet humor may fall short for the under 13 crowd and the violence can be intense for the under 8 group, it was generally a fun spoof of the 1974 “Blazing Saddles.” The list of writers gives an indication that the humor could be off-putting for a much younger audience.

Parental supervision advised. MPAA Rating: PG for action, violence, crude and suggestive humor, and some language. Running time: 97 minutes.