This documentary follows the trials and travails of Elliot “White Lightning” Scott, an aspiring Kung Fu artist and amateur film-maker who plans on becoming Canada’s first action hero. KUNG FU chronicles two years in the making of his low-budget karate epic, Blood Fight, following Elliot, his optimistic partner Linda, and an outrageous cast of friends and colleagues as they diligently trudge through complicated shoots—braving bruises, scrapes and more in the attempt to recreate the ‘authentic’ style of Kung Fu films from the 1970s. The crew’s pleasantly delusional assessment of the movie’s prospects is, if anything, an amusing testament to indie film’s appeal for a certain hardy strain of dreamer. With everyone’s hopes and dreams pinned on Elliot, this comedic-drama unfolds into a shocking and complex examination of the durability of the lies we tell ourselves, and the collective power of our dreams.
This is the first feature directors Jaret Belliveau and Matthew Bauckman have created on together. Their collaboration has largely been regarded as a success, as KUNG FU ELLIOT was awarded the Grand Jury’s Best Documentary Feature award at Slamdance in 2014, as was the official selection at the HotDocs, Fantastic Fest, Sarasota, New Zealand, and Fantasia Film festivals that same year. Belliveau’s prior film HIGHWAY GOSPEL (2012) was similarly prized by critics for the delicate balance it achieved between the sedulous and scurrilous treatment of their subjects, a group of Ottawans who dedicated their lives to high-speed downhill longboarding. Like that work, KUNG FU strikes a balance between the insightful and the absurd to create a masterful treatise on the symbiotic nature of human dreams and deception. As such, it is a dynamic and powerful piece of cinematography that pushes the limits of the documentary genre’s representative claims to truth, one that will leave audiences much to ponder after the final credits roll..
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