Kung Fu Joe – 2009

Thanks to Reddit, I’ve recently become aware of an indie film called Kung Fu Joe.  This movie follows the formula of most Blaxploitation films and the old Kung Fu movies of the 70’s, yet lacks all of the varying ethnicities.


What this movie lacks in acting, plot, and black people, it more than makes up for in charm, sporadic humor, and effort.

Like most good Kung Fu movies of the 70’s, the plot of Kung Fu Joe revolves around our protagonist trying to stop an evil master of the deadly arts.

We’re introduced to the legend of Joe when he walks through town and every woman he sees walks up to him, thrusts their tongue into his throat, slaps him in the face, then asks where he’s been.  He answers, “Working” and literally pushes them to the side and continues on his way.

After a brief tussle with a group of random bad guys, Joe meets a damsel in distress.  She sends him on a mission to find her father.

Joe: “My father is missing.”
Woman: “Missing, you say?  Where is he now?”
10 seconds of awkward silence
Woman: “He’s… missing?”

Hot on the case, Joe decides to enlist the help of the local police department.  He sits down with a detective, referred to as, “The Man”.

The Man: “It’s good to have you on our side, Kung Fu Joe.  I’ve got two missing persons cases in the last month, two of my own men.”
Joe: “I see.  Where are they now?”
10 seconds of awkward silence
The Man: “I… don’t know?  They’re missing?”

The training sequences have only the highest quality street fighter sound effects.  Some of the more important fight scenes also have very poorly synced voice audio.  The rest of the movie matches up fine, it’s specifically during the fight scenes.

There’s a really great scene where Joe and the Detective are searching for a suspect, and they go in costume to an actual farmers market and start asking people “Have you seen this ninja?”

The rest of the movie involves a plot to use tainted pastries as mind control devices.  There’s a pirate and a Frenchman, both of whom kick deliver the beatdown to Kung Fu Joe at least once each.

I won’t spoil the movie for you, but Soylent Green is people.

Overall, this is a silly movie with charming humor, even if it is somewhat lacking in substance.  Kung Fu Joe appears to be a parody of itself at every turn, drawing scenes that pay homage to old Bruce Lee films, old Blaxploitation films, and even Brokeback Mountain.  There are several moments when the acting is considerably overdone, most noticeable with the antagonists.  The movie isn’t bad, per se, but I don’t think it’s going to be winning many awards.  Unlike other awful movies such as Birdemic or The Room, Kung Fu Joe doesn’t take itself too seriously.  This gives it the ability to get away with faults that would be considered unforgivable in other, more serious, films.  It’s definitely worth at least a viewing on Netflix, or you can check out their site and pick up a copy for pretty cheap.

  • Anonymous

    Ha, thanks to you I found this. Fun!

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