Hello ladies and gentlemen, Muldoon here with my thoughts on a new documentary that just screend at this year's Fantastic Fest. I'll be the first to admit, I don't typically seek out documentaries - that's not because I'm anti-learning, but because nine times out of ten the subject matter just doesn't click with what I'm into. Well, thanks to the folks at Cavu Pictures, I was pointed towards a documentary that seemed right up my alley, a film following a guy hell bent on becoming the next big action star. You might have seen the clip I was able to put up last week, but at that time I hadn't yet seen the film. In the midst of a hectic work week and trying to schedule out films during the Festival, I ended up missing all the screenings of the movie while it played at the fest. I did have a chance to catch it last night and I'm glad I did.
Years ago a documentary came along that absolutely rocked my world, Chris Smith's AMERICAN MOVIE. His movie followed some loveable, albiet unusual men (Mark and Mike) as they attempted to shoot their own movie that was "sure to change the world." It's my love of that film that had me curious about ELLIOT. I love movies, write about them, and am able to pay my bills because of them - so I can empathize so much with these folks who while they have no real budget or the right equipment - they just want to create something out of pure passion. That's pretty much the exact same premise here with KUNG FU ELLIOT. In this film, directors Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau have found the key to any good doc = an interesting subject. Elliot Scott is a Canadian who has high goals, a need to create an epic martial arts film and establish himself as "Canada's first action star."
The movie explores all facets of Elliot's life, his girlfriend, his friends, his lack of any real budget, interesting tales he seems to be full of. It's well shot, well paced, and had me hooked from each scene to the next. At first, you're introduced to Elliot and get a little backstory on why he feels he's destined for greatness. He wants to create cinematic gold, but is self taught - so the odds are already stacked against him. He's been shooting a few movies for a few years now, though the quality appears to remain the same and he's okay with that. It's that little bit of blinded illusion that keeps him on track to make his next movie, BLOOD FIGHT, an epic on par with anything Jean Cluade Van Damme's created (or at least in Elliot's mind). You get to witness the turmoil of making something out of nothing, scheduling issues, budgetary restrictions - essentially anything that comes with making a no budget feature.
"Okay, so what? I could name a handful of my friends that are in that exact boat." Welp, I'm honestly doing my best here to circumnavigate any real spoilers here and so if I'm a tad vague - that's why. This movie's full of twists and turns and ultimately ends with a massive dead end, something that feels right, but still leaves you feeling like you got your money's worth with the last 90 minutes of your life. It's got humor with tidbits of creepy all along the way. I've heard a few folks in the TalkBacks mention what they ultimately didn't like about the film and I can 100% agree and understand their POV, but then taking it a step further and putting myself in Bauckman and Belliveau's shoes - I think I'd do the same thing.
This is a good movie worth checking out. While the initial premise seems exactly like AMERICAN MOVIE, I can attest that the two are apples and oranges - though both follow interesting people. Is this a movie I would pay $10 bucks to see in a theater? No. Is this a movie I would watch on Netflix/Hulu/On Demand/etc... and enjoy? Hell yes. This is an interesting look into the mind of an interesting man and a journey of his that I think a lot of folks out there can relate to... there are however a massive chunk of things hidden within Elliot that are unique to him, thing's I hope the bulk of you can't relate to. I liked the movie and think the readers of AICN will as well. Check it out when you get the chance.
- Mike McCutchen