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Mel Brooks classic film Blazing Saddles gets the animated samurai treatment in Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank.  This first-look trailer debuted this past Saturday, April 9 during the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards

It’s pretty much well recognized that a film as irreverant and non-PC as Blazing Saddles couldn’t have been made in today’s social environment, but Paws of Fury draws a great deal from its foundations. There’s a fair bit of fourth wall breakage, several tropes unabashedly swiped from the Mel Brooks classic, and, well, poop jokes, because however old you get, inside, a part of you is still 8 years old.

Trailer park

The film follows Hank (voiced by Michael Cera), a loveable mutt with big dreams of becoming a Samurai. When he becomes the new sheriff of Kakamucho, he finds he may have bitten off more than he can chew: the town is inhabited solely by cats, and the local warlord (Ricky Gervais) who hired him is bent on destroying it for his own gain. Hank’s only shot is to bring the great samurai Jimbo (Samuel L. Jackson) out of retirement as his mentor.

Rob Minkoff (The Lion King 1994) and veteran animation artist Mark Koetsier (Rumble, Pocahontas) team up to direct the pic from an original screenplay by Ed Stone and Nate Hopper, revised by Robert Ben Garant and Minkoff. Producers are Minkoff, Adam Nagle and Guy Collins; executive producers are Alex Schwartz, Adrian Politowski and Martin Metz.

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is presented by Aniventure and financer Align in association with HB Wink Animation (Extinct) and GFM Animation (Duck Duck Goose), animated by Cinesite Montreal (Riverdance: The Animated Adventure).

The voice cast also features George Takei, Michelle Yeoh, Djimon Hounsou, Kathy Shim, Kylie Kuioka, Gabriel Iglesias, Aasif Mandvi and Mel Brooks.

Pretty much all the cast have done animated films before:

  • George Takei’s 4th theatrically released animated film, after Mulan (1998), Free Birds (2013), and Kubo and the Two Strings (2016).
  • Michael Cera’s 3rd theatrically released animated film, after Sausage Party (2016) and The Lego Batman Movie (2017).
  • Mel Brooks’ sixth fully animated film after Robots (2005), Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014), Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015), Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018), and Toy Story 4 (2019).
  • Michelle Yeoh’s 3rd theatrically released animated film, after Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) and Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022).
  • Samuel L. Jackson’s seventh fully animated film, after The Incredibles (2004), Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), Astro Boy (2009), Adventures in Zambezia (2012), Turbo (2013), and Incredibles 2 (2018).
  • Ricky Gervias’s fourth animated film after Valiant (2005), Escape from Planet Earth (2013), and The Willoughbys (2020).

Paws of Fury, formerly titled Blazing Samurai, will hit theaters on July 15.

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