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Paws of Fury: Plot, Cast and Everything Else We Know

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Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is an animated comedy that has more stars in it than a Hollywood sidewalk. The film is meant to be loosely based on Richard Pryor and Mel Brooks’ legendary movie Blazing Saddles, a 1974 comedy western that will forever be one of the funniest and most progressive films of its time. Despite everything the movie did for African-Americans in cinema (and it did a lot), it would not go over the same if it premiered today. That could be part of why Paws of Fury has gone through such a ringer since it officially began production in 2014.

The film, initially titled Blazing Samurai, might have originally been meant to follow a Black samurai who found his destiny in protecting an East Asian village. This is much like in Blazing Saddles,

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when an African-American man was appointed sheriff to save an all-white town in the old west. The movie quickly became about a wandering dog becoming a samurai in a town full of cats. While the dichotomy remains, perhaps the film’s creators feared too strong of a backlash should the racial metaphor be too on the nose. Regardless, the film’s message remains the same: community will prevail despite forces of overwhelming hate.

Here’s everything we know about Paws of Fury so far.

The movie was initially conceived around 2010 and took a while to get off the ground. The original concept likely came from the trend in Hollywood at the time to apply Asian aesthetics to American themes. With Mel Brooks involved, it must have been an easy connection to create an homage to one of his greatest films. However, the idea for the movie was planted on a cultural ground fertile for animation. With big franchises like How to Train your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda just beginning to gain momentum, it must have been a short leap to change the project from a live-action film to an animated one. And so Blazing Samurai became Paws of Fury.

Instead of a racially charged movie aimed at adults, the film would take on the eternal rivalry between cats and dogs to make the message more digestible for children. The film was still called Blazing Samurai for a while, and in 2015 its release date was set for April 14, 2017. But the project saw trouble when Arc Productions, the original lead animation studio on the project, declared bankruptcy in 2016. The movie went through financial difficulties until they finally announced they secured funding in 2019.

Unfortunately, they didn’t know what troubles lay just around the corner for them. With the troubles of Covid and the financial hardships the movie went through, its distribution rights traded hands several times until 2022, when Paramount Animation acquired it and was finally able to put the film out, tentatively speaking.

Related: Here’s Every Movie Directed by Mel Brooks, Ranked

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