by Josh Smith & r & & r & 18 Fingers of Death & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & ith its slick packaging, 18 Fingers of Death draws you in with a triple feint: That's Pat Morita on the cover, along with a one-two combination claiming that "It's Kung Fu Hustle meets Spinal Tap." Buford Lee (James Few) is the star of 803 kung fu films, ranging from I Kill You Until You Die to Drunken Bastard. So his 804th film is certainly going to be the one finally to bring him fame and good fortune. The story of Buford Lee's last chance to make it in film, 18 Fingers of Death is so poor that it fails to deliver anything except a minor role for Morita and tepid kung fu. It's the least documentary-like mockumentary ever.
It can't decide what kind of film it wants to be. With fake martial arts celebrities like Steven Seafood and Antonia Bandanas (played by the acting powerhouse from Renegade, Lorenzo Lamas), Fingers seems headed straight into Kentucky Fried Movie territory, but never really commits to the horrible cheesiness required. The mockumentary conceit is all too often dropped as Fingers turns into simple movie about a socially inept fan, Ronald Mack (Maurice Patton) following and assisting his unlucky hero, who is plagued by his inability to evaluate either scripts or agents.
Despite the hideous (and obvious) flaws in its creation, too many defecation jokes and ham-handed characterizations, everyone involved in Fingers seems committed to making it work. It all engenders the sort of pained sympathy that one feels for the film's beleaguered main character. Saddled with no script and little talent but a whole lot of gumption, Buford still presses on doggedly.
The DVD's thin offering of extras is sad. They amount to three deleted scenes (which any 5-year-old could easily recognize as superfluous), along with a two-minute tribute to Morita (who turns in the movie's nicest performance as Buford's father) and a "behind-the-scenes" featurette consisting mostly of Lorenzo Lamas rambling while getting into makeup.
While the concept was funny and the cast and crew were committed, 18 Fingers of Death perfects just one move: the Fatal Touch of Boredom.