Back in 2009, we reported that the popular 1970s cartoon Hong Kong Phooey was being reimagined for the big screen as a live action/animation kids film. Now, we know who is voicing everyone’s favorite “number one super guy.”
According to reports, Eddie Murphy is taking on the role of Hong Kong Phooey, a bumbling canine kung-fu master who is the alter ego of police janitor Penrod “Penry” Pooch. In the original series, Hong Kong Phooey was voiced by famous musician and actor, Scatman Crothers.
As Deadline notes, this isn’t the first time Murphy has lent his voice to the big screen. The actor’s turn as the lovable and annoying Donkey in the Shrek series is one of the actor’s more famous recent roles, and Murphy also voiced Mushu in Disney’s Mulan.
Hong Kong Phooey, which is directed by direct-to-DVD veteran Alex Zamm, will be an interesting test of whether modern audiences are interested in rehashing nearly 40-year-old characters. Despite a critical drubbing (including a 2/5 star review from Screen Rant), The Smurfs has enjoyed a relatively successful box office run. Could Hong Kong Phooey find similar success?
While Eddie Murphy is certainly a known quantity, one has to wonder whether Hong Kong Phooey is too obscure of a character to merit its own movie. Unlike The Smurfs, which is a better-known franchise thanks to its comic book beginnings and long-lasting syndication, Hong Kong Phooey only aired for one season.
Like other Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Hong Kong Phooey was also syndicated, but it’s not something that kids are likely to be familiar with. In fact, I think the last time Hong Kong Phooey was on TV was when I was a kid more than 20 years ago.
That being said, there is certainly a place for Hong Kong Phooey on the big screen. Kids movies are notorious for being bad and still making big money at the box office, so it’s not as if Alcon Entertainment is making a terrible investment.
One has to wonder, however, what the final version of the film will look like. In the cartoon, Hong Kong Phooey is an anthropomorphic dog who walks, talks, and interacts with humans. Will he be the same way in the movie, or is it going to be more like Garfield, where the character is a CGI pet?
What do you think? Is Hong Kong Phooey something you’re even remotely interested in seeing, with or without Eddie Murphy?