Have you ever been had? You know the irksome; if not downright agitating feeling that you’ve been suckered?
Kung Fu Elliott got me good and in doing so, I believe it is deceptively smart and the most compelling documentary I’ve watched in years.
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia documentarians, Jaret Belliveau and Matthew Bauckman followed the exploits of Elliott “White Lightning” Scott, a former Canadian karate champion turned martial arts filmmaker.
Kung Fu Elliott chronicles Mr. Scott for two years as he struggled to make a flick titled, “Blood Fight.”
Problems are noticeable from the onset.
First, Kung Fu Elliott doesn’t give off the slightest athletic vibe, not even remotely. It’s pretty hard to swallow for a dude who supposedly represented his country in a very physical, combative sport.
“White Lightning” has a seemingly loyal entourage that includes his girlfriend and two buddies. Their loyalty is displaced though admirable. It apparently blinds them from the blatantly obvious fact that good old Kung Fu Elliott absolutely sucks at what he does.
He effortlessly makes Ed Wood look like Federico Fellini.
Along the way, Elliott Scott shows a flair and affinity for being fast and loose with the truth. Pathological liar, Mentally ill with delusions of his own grandeur, reality augmentation specialist…whatever was going on in the man’s head, it quickly served as the undoing of his already shaky credibility.
That shakiness leads the man down a dark, troubled path.
Further elaboration sneaks up on spoiler alert ground and I won’t go there because you have to see this to believe it, especially the film’s ending.
Kung Fu Elliott, according to its imdb.com page, won Best Documentary honors at the Slamdance and Fantastic Fest Film Festivals. It also was nominated for Best Documentary at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival.
Generally, reviews were considerably favorable but controversial.
**Spoiler Alert Theory Below**
I feel like I was had in watching Kung Fu Elliot because, as the final credits rolled, I immediately got the sense I just watched not a documentary but a mockumentary.
That left me feeling a bit perturbed because, as a former journalist, I genuinely enjoy documentaries.
Mockumentaries, for me, are fine but they are a different breed. That said, I wonder why the film festivals that showed Kung Fu Elliott didn’t disqualify it for not being a genuine documentary. I could find no news items on that matter.
In fact, interviews with the documentarians show them answering questions with ultra-sincerity.
That’s troublesome because there is no record, in Canadian Karate archives, of an Elliott Scott. Even a non-martial artist can see that “White Lightning” couldn’t go a legitimate karate move to save his life.
My guess is the person we see as Elliott Scott an acquaintance of the filmmakers with some acting ambitions.
Further, I believe the Nova Scotia-based producers were inspired by the wild success of the mockumentary turned sitcom, Trailer Park Boys, which also stems from Nova Scotia.
Don’t get me wrong, in its worst moments, Kung Fu Elliott is laughably bad, which for that alone makes it an entertaining and compelling eighty-eight minutes. Also, Elliott Scott is an absolute creep.
On the other hand, if I am completely off-base and Elliott Scott really stomps the earth then he is in dire need of a mental health intervention.
Let me know what you think.
Kung Fu Elliott is making