Sorry for Kung Fu tells the story of a woman, who has defied her staunchly conservative heritage by getting pregnant out of wedlock. Not so big of a deal, except she’s returning home to live with her parents, and must deal with the tension that comes with having gone against the ways they have taught her. In spite of it all, she manages to enjoy a truce with mother and father until the baby is born – and it’s of Asian descent. With family turmoil and racial bigotry within family bloodlines to propel its conflict, you’d think this film would have a lot to recommend it. However, it can’t jump that one final hurdle of execution in order to make it all happen. Part of what makes it not work is the fact that it’s a family drama with an incredibly unsuitable potty mouth.
Before you label me a prude, allow for explanation.
I’m not a G-Rated junkie. It takes a lot to offend me, and I wouldn’t really say Sorry for Kung Fu succeeds despite its heavy use of profanity, in particular the frequent murmurings of the F-Bomb, that mother of all unholy words. I’ve watched and enjoyed films that utilize the F-Bomb and every other word you can think of more often than Sorry for Kung Fu does, such as Scarface, Full Metal Jacket, and Goodfellas, but I think what makes the usage in this outing so objectionable is not its ability to offend – but rather its ineptness in delivery. In all the far superior films I’ve mentioned above, the characters’ dialogues are reflections of their personalities. One is suited to the other.
Not so here. Whether it’s the lead actress, mother, father, boyfriend – all of them sound like the same character holding a conversation with herself/himself. What’s more, the conversation is peppered with profanity of the hollowest boldness. The words call attention to themselves and take center stage ahead of any dialogue which hopes to move the story forward. What you’re left with is the feeling the filmmaker is in love with profanity and little else – as if he’s just heard all the words for the first time, and like a silly small child wants to use them as frequently as he can, despite the lack of anything substantive which comes with them. In heated family arguments, I can understand it. But sitting at the dinner table talking about the most mundane of daily happenstances? I don’t buy it. It’s just bad writing.
Much of the widescreen image appears soft, and it is plagued with frequent imperfections, such as dirt, cigarette burns, you name it. In addition, the colors have a monochromatic feel to them, which succeeds only in reducing the quality of the image and renders the production values to an even cheaper level than they already are. The land mine-ridden countryside, the dull interiors – all look like the same setting from a lighting standpoint, and that makes for a very drab image to match the much-ado-about-nothing story execution.
Dialogue and bass levels are very strong, and I suppose that’s all you can ask for in a film such as this. There is little-to-no use for five speakers, as the mono is perfectly suited to the needs of the picture. Volume levels are extremely high throughout, but there are no little nuances to the sound. Everything plays just as loud as everything else. Take that as you wish.
The behind the scenes featurette is the only true extra on the disc. This does require some kudos for effort, but the 40-minute presentation is of little interest, especially if you’re not enamored with the film. There is no structure to the footage that would push it over into the status of interesting documentary. Instead, much like the dialogue, it rambles on aimlessly until there is nothing left to state.
I’m a little taken aback by the positive reviews films such as this and Steve + Sky (also from Lifesize) manage to garner. The way I see it is this – there are two camps supportive of such material.
One camp exists on a cultural plane, and they perhaps like the material for two reasons: 1) Because it’s more relevant to them. 2) Because it’s a film product they can actually call their own. I’m more inclined to subscribe to the latter. We all give things the benefit of the doubt, when they hit close to home. Such is the case with this Croatian production. I would expect many in that area to be more forgiving of the film’s flaws.
The second camp consists of those elitist wannabe types that will jump on the bandwagon of every new film, if there’s even the remotest chance that a mass audience has yet to discover it. They want to be the first to recommend something, or they want to appear intelligent by recommending a film that will bore the masses to tears. Such behavior is as childish as the use of profanity in this film, and the only way I can see a critic recommending this poorly executed drivel.