Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank

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Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank
Paws of Fury poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Screenplay by
  • Ed Stone
  • Nate Hopper[b]
Based on
Produced by
  • Rob Minkoff
  • Adam Nagle
  • Peter Nagle
  • Guy Collins
  • Yair Landau
  • Susan Purcell
Edited byMichael Andrews
Music byBear McCreary
Distributed by
Release dates
  • July 10, 2022 (2022-07-10) (Los Angeles)
  • July 15, 2022 (2022-07-15) (United States)
  • July 22, 2022 (2022-07-22) (United Kingdom)
Running time
98 minutes
  • China
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$45 million[2]
Box office$20 million[3][4]

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is a 2022 computer-animated martial arts comedy film produced by Nickelodeon Movies and directed by Rob Minkoff, Mark Koetsier, and Chris Bailey (in Koetsier and Bailey's feature directorial debut). The film is a loose remake of the 1974 live-action film Blazing Saddles.[5] It features the voices of Michael Cera, Ricky Gervais, Mel Brooks, George Takei, Aasif Mandvi, Gabriel Iglesias, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The film was scheduled for to be released in 2017, but was delayed several times, mainly due to distributor changes and the COVID-19 pandemic. It eventually premiered on July 10, 2022 in Los Angeles and was theatrically released in the United States on July 15, 2022, by Paramount Pictures. The film has received mixed reviews from critics and grossed over $20 million worldwide against a $45 million budget.


In a land inspired by feudal Japan and entirely inhabited by cats, Ika Chu, a conniving high ranking official of the land's Shogun, desires to expand his giant palace. However, it resides right next to the impoverished village of Kakamucho. Hoping to get rid of it, Ika Chu plans to force Kakamucho's residents to abandon their town by sending a gang of thugs led by his second-in-hand Ohga to trash the town. The townspeople demand that the Shogun appoint a new samurai to protect them after the previous one flees. Ika Chu, hoping to offend the townspeople, decides to appoint Hank, a dog prisoner about to be executed, as Kakamucho's samurai.

After an initial hostile reception, Hank relies on the assistance of Jimbo, a catnip-addled samurai who reluctantly agrees to train him, in order to overcome the townspeople's hostility. While training with Jimbo, Hank manages to subdue Sumo, an immensely strong, dim-witted, yet philosophical henchman that Ika Chu sent to drive out the townspeople quicker. The townspeople see Hank as a hero, but his newfound popularity ends up going to Hank's head, and he neglects his training, which causes a fallout between him and Jimbo. Ika Chu takes Hank to a private nightclub, in order to distract him as his thugs trash Kakamucho. Hank returns to a devastated town and decides to return home, but an origami figure of himself reminds him of his samurai oath.

Jimbo, meanwhile, attempts to storm Ika Chu's palace in hopes to free Sumo, who was captured by Ika Chu's goons. Hank returns in order to help him out. Upon hearing about Sumo's escape, Ika Chu recruits an army of thugs to get rid of Kakamucho for good. Hank returns to Kakamucho, and explains his plan to defeat Ika Chu's army. The townspeople then build a perfect paper copy of the town and themselves as a diversion. When the raiders attack the fake town and its population of dummies, which have been booby-trapped with dynamite, Hank ignites the bombs and the townspeople attack the thugs. The Shogun arrives, who questions the fighting. Ohga accidentally exposes Ika Chu's plan to him, causing Ika Chu to flee. Hank chases Ika Chu to his palace, where he fights him on his giant jade toilet, which overflows and threatens to flood the town. Hank warns the Kakamucho townspeople of the incoming flood, and leads them in the digging of a channel to safely divert the water around the town.

With Kakamucho saved, the impressed Shogun decides to appoint Jimbo as the new samurai, but he gives the position to Hank. Hank however, feels that he is not entirely ready, so he ends up giving the position to Emiko, a kitten who also desires to be a samurai. Hank and Jimbo continue to train in their own time, with their relationship mended.

In a post-credits scene, a now imprisoned and sulking Ika Chu consoles himself that at least he will have a part in a sequel.




Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, then known as Blazing Samurai, was initially conceived by Sony Pictures Animation co-founder and ex-chief and Mass Animation founder Yair Landau around 2010, inspired by the then-recent trend of westernizing Asian films. Originally intended to revolve around a black samurai protecting an East Asian village, the story was changed to center around cats and dogs in an effort to make the story more universal. Chris Rock at one point was considered to co-produce the film.[7] The film was formally announced in November 2014, with GFM Films handling international sales and Rob Minkoff set to produce. The film was scripted by Ed Stone and Nate Hopper.[8] In February 2015, Open Road Films acquired the U.S. distribution rights with Chris Bailey and Mark Koetsier attached to direct. Susan Purcell also joined the production as a producer.[9]

In November 2019, the film was re-announced after Aniventure joined the production. The budget was $45 million ($16 million was categorized as "original equity" while the rest of the $29 million came from Aniventure and Canadian tax credits).[2] In August 2020, Adrian Politowski’s Align announced it would help executive produce and finance the film.[10] In February 2021, a first-look revealed Landau and Purcell had been replaced by Adam Nagle and Guy Collins as producers.[5] Chris Bailey also left the project as director at this point, to be the showrunner on Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, and Rob Minkoff was promoted to director alongside Mark Koetsier. Despite this, Bailey still contractually receives credit for directing the film, as do Yair Landau and Susan Purcell for producing.[citation needed] In April 2022, it was announced that the film had its title changed.[11]


Arc Productions was set to provide most of the film's animation, until the company's closure in 2016.[12] In November 2019, it was revealed that Cinesite would take over animation duties, with its Montreal facilities handling most of the production, with additional assistance from its Vancouver facilities.[2] Much of the film was animated remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as were some of the voice recordings.[13]


In June 2021, Bear McCreary was announced to compose the musical score.[14] The film also features two original songs by Broadway songwriters Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner: the opening titles track "Blazing Samurai" (performed by Michael K. Lee) and the end titles song "The Coolest Cat" (performed by Tony Award winner Adrienne Warren).[15]


Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank was theatrically released on July 15, 2022 by Paramount Pictures in North America. Its original release date was April 14, 2017 by Open Road Films,[9] but was pushed to August 4, 2017.[6] In November 2019, reports said the film was still at the "first animatic stage" at Cinesite, with a planned 2021 release.[2] In January 2022, Paramount acquired the distribution rights from GFM Animation for $10 million[16] for a release date of July 22, 2022, taking the release of Paramount Animation's Under the Boardwalk.[17] In April, the release date was moved forward by a week to its July 15 date.[citation needed] It was expected to be released under the Paramount Animation brand, but was later revealed to be released under Nickelodeon Movies. The film was accompanied by a Big Nate short film titled Bad Hamster.[18] It was also released on Sky as a Sky Cinema original on July 22, 2022 in the United Kingdom.[19]


Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank was released alongside Where the Crawdads Sing and Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, and was projected to gross around $10 million from 3,475 theaters in its opening weekend.[20] The film made $2.4 million on its first day, including $550,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $6.3 million, finishing sixth at the box office.[21] The film made $3.9 million in its second weekend (a drop of 38.7%), finishing seventh.[22]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 56% of 50 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.2/10. The website's consensus reads, "While it might be intriguing for Mel Brooks completists, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is an often ungainly blend of kid-friendly animation and grown-up gags."[23] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 45 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[24] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, and PostTrak reported 66% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 49% saying they would definitely recommend it.[21]

Writing for TheWrap, Katie Walsh called the film a "breezy, funny, highly self-referential flick steeped in movie history".[25] In a 2.5 out of 4 review, Mark Feeney of The Boston Globe wrote: "Sure, a lot of the jokes are dumb ... but Paws is quite smart. Clearly, all concerned considered it a pet project. They were right to do so."[26] Owen Gleiberman praised Jackson and Gervais, but thought Cera's "sheepish" performance left the film "in search of a center", adding: "You get the feeling that the whole premise of this project was that the script, with its Blazing Saddles mystique, would somehow power it. But sorry, those fumes faded out across the decades."[27] The A.V. Club's Martin Tsai gave a highly critical review, calling it "morally reprehensible", with a "lazy, melting-pot approach to exploring Asian culture".[28]


  1. ^ Chris Bailey was the main director for the film alongside Mark Koetsier from 2014 to 2017. He had left the project when production restarted in 2019.
  2. ^ The full writing credits are: Screenplay by Ed Stone & Nate Hopper and Mel Brooks and Norman Steinberg and Andrew Bergman and Richard Pryor and Alan Uger; Story by Andrew Bergman.[1]


  1. ^ "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank". Writers Guild of America West. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d Macnab, Geoffrey (November 6, 2019). "GFM Animation's long-gestating Blazing Samurai is back in the saddle (exclusive)". Screen Daily. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  3. ^ "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (2022) – Box Office Mojo".
  4. ^ "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Barraclough, Leo (February 25, 2021). "First Look: Animated Comedy Blazing Samurai, Starring Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i McNary, Dave (November 4, 2015). "Ricky Gervais Joins Comedy Blazing Samurai". Variety. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  7. ^ "12 Hours in the Future with Maria Sanchir: Screenplay writing, representation, and Paws of Fury with Ed Stone: Part 2" (Podcast). June 4, 2022. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
  8. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (November 6, 2014). "GFM rides with Blazing Samurai". Screen Daily. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Amidi, Amid (February 9, 2015). "Chris Bailey and Mark Koetsier Will Direct Blazing Samurai Feature". Cartoon Brew. Archived from the original on February 13, 2015.
  10. ^ "Blazing Samurai Gains Finance Ally in Align". August 7, 2020.
  11. ^ "'Blazing Samurai' Swaps Title for 'Paws of Fury'". Animation Magazine. April 7, 2022. Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  12. ^ "Samurai film delivered final blow to Toronto's Arc Productions: documents". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  13. ^ "Exclusive: The Creative Forces Behind 'Paws of Fury' Explain the Way of the Feline Samurai". Animation Magazine. July 10, 2022. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  14. ^ "Bear McCreary Scoring Rob Minkoff's & Mark Koetsier's Blazing Samurai". Film Music Reporter. June 16, 2021. Retrieved July 4, 2022.
  15. ^ "'Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank' Soundtrack Album Details | Film Music Reporter". Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  16. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (July 14, 2022). "Box Office: Can Paws of Fury and Where the Crawdads Sing Sustain a Strong Summer Season?". Variety. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  17. ^ Galuppo, Mia (January 21, 2022). "Paramount Lands Animated Blazing Samurai Starring Mel Brooks, Michael Cera (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 21, 2022.
  18. ^ "Brand-New 'Big Nate' Short to Screen with 'Paws of Fury'". Animation Magazine. July 14, 2022. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  19. ^ "Sky Cinema – Paws of Fury The Legend of Hank". Kidz Cool It. July 17, 2022. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  20. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 13, 2022). "'Thor: Love And Thunder' Heading To $200M+ As Counter-Programming 'Paws Of Fury', 'Crawdads Sing' Open – Box Office Preview". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  21. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 15, 2022). "'Where the Crawdads Sing' Hits $2.3M Note, 'Paws Of Fury' Sees $505K – Thursday Night Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  22. ^ "Domestic 2022 Weekend 29". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  23. ^ "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  24. ^ "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved July 16, 2022.
  25. ^ Walsh, Katie (July 13, 2022). "Paws of Fury Review: Samurai Epic Draws Inspiration From Blazing Saddles". TheWrap. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  26. ^ Feeney, Mark (July 13, 2022). "Review: A 'Paws' that refreshes - The Boston Globe". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  27. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (July 13, 2022). "'Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank' Review: It's 'Blazing Saddles' Meets 'Kung Fu Panda,' Minus the Laughs and the Fun". Variety. Retrieved August 5, 2022.
  28. ^ Tsai, Martin (July 13, 2022). "Paws Of Fury reduces Mel Brooks' satire to a showcase of Asian clichés". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 5, 2022.

External links[edit]