Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is directed by Mark Koetsier, Chris Bailey, and Rob Minkoff and includes a voice cast of Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, and Kiley Kuioka. Set in the Shogun era of Japan, it tells the story of Hank (Cera) who is a hound in a world of cats; this works as a ham-handed metaphor for racial prejudice, a thematic element that goes almost nowhere throughout the film’s plot. Hank is tasked with protecting a village from an evil landowner voiced by Gervais, but first he must train to become a samurai with the help of Jimbo (Jackson), an aging mentor samurai.  

Even grading on the curve of kids films, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is awful. Most of the humor comes from either scatological fart jokes, anachronistic references, and some fourth wall breaks where they actually refer to how long the movie is or where the film is structurally in a cliched, formulaic plot.  

Not only that, there are very few Japanese or Japanese American actors in the voice cast, the most notable exception being George Takei as the villain’s assistant (yes, he does say, “Oh, my!” a couple times; no, that doesn’t make the film worthwhile). That Mel Brooks plays the Shogun and Gervais plays a character named Ika Chu is indicative of the film’s issues with representation.  

Some of the positive reviews compare Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank to Blazing Saddles and Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, one of the most influential films ever, and while it’s easy to see those influences, referring to other, better movies does not help this movie. 

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is a lifeless cliché filled with dumb jokes and an uninspired voice cast going through the motions. While it may keep your kids distracted, it won’t keep them entertained. 

1.5 out of five stars.