You’ve got to figure that with millions of scripts floating around Hollywood at any given moment that two movies very similar to each other in just about every way, could be released at nearly the same time. Some are well known like, Armageddon and Deep Impact, Antz and A Bug’s Life, or more recently Battle Los Angeles and Skyline.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these movies are knock offs, but they do share similar concepts and stories. While some of these films are more critically acclaimed than their counterparts it is reasonable to like either equally. These weren’t made with the intention of copying the other, they were intended to be original in either concept or design. It was poor timing or coincidence that led to them being similar to another movie.
There are also movies that are straight up knock offs. Snakes on a Train, The Da Vinci Treasure, Metal Man, and Transmorphers. There is no questioning that these movies were made to be as similar as the legal department would allow to the more successful original. Metal Man is Iron Man only his suit is constructed from a cheaper generic metal that looks more like plastic. Transmorphers don’t transform, they morph. Considering how little they appear in the movie, it doesn’t matter what they do. The Da Vinci Treasure is for those who find anagrams to difficult and instead prefer the simple and care free challenge of connect the dots. Snakes on a Train, well… you can figure that one out for yourself.
These movies all go straight to DVD (if they’re lucky) and often star the same repertory of unknown actors hoping to be noticed and has-beens looking for the same. Generally they’re all so bad they’re funny and the writers and directors know that. Who could you possibly convince that a movie called Metal Man, shot on a Nokia cell phone camera, could even begin to compare to Iron Man starring Robert Downy Jr?
Then you have the movie that got me writing this article. The title was so ridiculous that I had to make sure the whole world knew of its existence. Chop Kick Panda. I found this movie the other day while browsing the new releases on Netflix streaming. At first I thought it was one of those lower budget spin off movies made by the same people as the original. Disney is guilty of doing this with nearly every animated film from the 90’s.
I did a little investigating and discovered that Chop Kick Panda had nothing to do with Kung Fu Panda. Well, when I say nothing I mean nothing, except for the style, look, the characters, and the story. Aside from the lack of any recognizable voice talent, the only difference was that this movie is not cg animation. It’s in the style of the Power Puff Girls and 800 other shows on the Cartoon Network. That and the name.
Generally Knock offs try to get as close to the original name as possible without prompting a letter from the Dreamworks legal department. Despite being poorly made, the knock off titles make sense. But Chop Kick Panda? Was that as close to Kung Fu as they could get? I mean, that’s what he does not who he is. This is like naming your Pixies cover band Play Sing, or like calling a new sport similar to Baseball, Pitch Hit. If the creators of Chop Kick were to knock off my website would they call it Write Publish?
I was so baffled by the title that I began thinking of all the appropriate titles they could have used instead.
Tai Chi Panda
Tai Kwan Do Panda
dare I say Chop Suey Panda
If they were willing to move the concept away from the Asian cultural stereotypes they could have tried…
Muay Thai Panda
or Krav Maga Panda.
Any of these are viable options and yet they simply chose to go with exactly what the Panda does.
Look I’m no fool, this movie is bad, not Metal Man bad, but bad. Its so similar to Kung Fu Panda that I can’t figure out how they didn’t get sued by Dreamworks for copyright infringement. Had they gone with one of the other nine titles I listed above they might have made a passable movie. Instead it seems that the director sat up in his La-Z-Boy recliner and said, “What does the Panda do? Call it that.”
Well, I’ve go to go Urinate Flush… until next time when I Write Publish.