Hot Docs 2014: Kung Fu Elliot Review

Kung Fu Elliot

Kung Fu Elliot

Canadian Spectrum

The Slamdance award-winner Kung Fu Elliot slides into Hot Docs as a local Canadian favorite bringing along some hefty expectations. Thankfully, it delivers. From the logline, you’d expect the doc to be a north of the boarder spin on American Movie with a little amateur karate tossed in for added hilarity. Indeed when we meet the titular Elliot “White  Lightning” Scott, he’s an overly enthusiastic indie filmmaker touting himself as “Canada’s Jackie Chan.” Granted, what we see of his movies looks like absolute garbage, but the guy sure is charmingly enthusiastic and has a certain skill with unintentional comedy. Toss in a bitter and bored girlfriend, a sad sack best friend with dreams of becoming the next De Niro, and an ill-fated trip to China and you’ve got yourself a docu-romp. The type of movie that toes the line between “laughing with” and “laughing at” it’s subject. At least that’s the direction the film seems to be going at first. Somewhere halfway through things change dramatically and Kung Fu Elliot is a far more interesting movie for it.

The longer that co-directors Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau stay with their subject, the increasingly clear it becomes that Elliot’s compulsive lying and delusions are more dangerous than funny. The film turns dark and Elliot’s dance of deception loses its charm rather quickly. It’s a documentary character study that lands somewhere between charming comedy and unsettling psychodrama. While making the movie was undoubtedly a bit of a trial for Baukman and Belliveau, they emerged with a brilliant bit of work that deserves distribution if only to smoke Elliot Scott out of his cave so that guy can attempt to explain what the hell is going on in that soft brain of his. (Phil Brown)

Screens

Wednesday, April 30, Scotiabank 3, 6:30pm

Thursday, May 1, Scotiabank 4, 3:30pm

Friday, May 2, Scotiabank 7, 9:30pm

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