Review – Kung Fu Elliot

Kung Fu Elliot Poster

Elliot “White Lightning” Scott has a dream.  With multiple martial arts titles, Japanese heritage, an Asian woman at his side, and a passion for both film making and Asian culture,  he is determined to become Canada’s Chuck Norris or Jackie Chan.  After such low budget local hits like They Killed my Cat, he and his partner Linda are deep into production of their most ambitious film yet: A Karate epic called Blood Fight.  Winner of “best documentary feature” at Slamdance 2014.  

With an eccentric cast and crew made up of friends and volunteers, Elliot and Linda are hard at work trying to make this film work with the barest of supplies and talent.  We’re along for the ride in this riveting documentary.  Not all is roses though as Linda is increasingly impatient for the man in her life to not only start providing some sort of income, but a marriage proposal as well.

As we follow Elliot’s film making endeavors all the way to China where he is studying Eastern medicine as a possible side career, it is apparent that there is something a bit off with him.  He thinks a lot of himself and has high aspirations, but doesn’t seem to have much to back up either.  You kind of feel sorry for him as he doesn’t seem to realize how pathetic he is at times.  You have to hope that somehow Blood Fight actually turns into something worth being proud of, but it seems unlikely despite the best efforts of all involved.

Little by little things start to change from being about making Blood Fight to trying to figure out Elliot himself.  It becomes obvious that he’s not telling us the whole story or perhaps not the real one.  Gradually you go from feeling a sorry fascination, to confusion or even disgust.  Something is not right.

Not since Catfish have I felt that a documentary’s ending is so important that to discuss it warrants a spoiler warning.  Maybe you will see some of them coming, but the twists in this true life tale are truly stranger than fiction.

This film is a bit of an odd duck.  On one hand, it is well made and quite fascinating.  On the other, it suffers from a problem usually reserved for fictional tales – the main character isn’t very likeable.  While extremely interesting, half the time this film is not quite enjoyable, though perhaps that is part of it’s incredible draw.

Like one of those train wrecks you can’t help but slow down to watch, Kung Fu Elliot is a fantastic documentary, but I’m not sure if you will like it.  Worth watching, but bare in mind that it is probably not the film you think it is.

Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film

My rating: Three out of five hats

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Kung Fu Elliot kicks into limited release February 20, and VOD February 24