Hot Docs 2014 Review: Kung Fu Elliot

Kung Fu Elliot at first appears to be a documentary about an oddball named Elliot Scott who spends all of his time creating homemade martial arts action films. Elliot makes all of his movies in his native Halifax. He claims that his goal is to be Canada’s first action hero and he goes by the moniker “White Lightning”. It is evident in the beginning of the film that Elliot (while seemingly harmless) is more than an enthusiastic hobbyists, he is completely delusional. We meet Linda, his partner, and we can tell from her deadpan expression and monotone, that living with Elliot is emotionally and mentally exhausting. Not only does Linda help him with all of his films she also serves as a kind of mother figure. We learn that Elliot is unemployed and is not making any real attempt to find work since making films takes up all of his time. Linda pays the rent and the bills and it is starting to wear her down. In addition to this Linda is waiting for Elliot to propose to her.

Kung Fu Elliot follows the progress of Elliot Scott’s latest film, Blood Fight and in doing so reveals the cracks in Elliot and Linda’s relationship and the not-so surprising truth about Elliot. Our suspicions are first aroused when Elliot declares (with audible hesitation) that he is part Japanese. Despite this however, we are initially willing to give Elliot the benefit of the doubt. After all why would someone lie about something like that? At times the film is difficult to watch since Elliot is clearly not living in the same reality as the rest of us. We could almost feel sorry for him if it weren’t for the toll that his actions take on others, namely Linda.

After two years following Elliot, directors Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau bring the film to a satisfying conclusion.

The moral of this story? Beware of damaged men-children that you meet through online dating sites.

My tastes have changed over the years but I'm still that three year-old playing Raiders of the Lost Ark over and over and that awkward 15 year-old seeing her first Wes Anderson film by accident and that angsty 18 year old watching Harold and Maude.

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