Film Review: African Kung Fu Nazis

african kung fu nazis indexWhen you see a title like African Kung Fu Nazis it was always going to go one of two ways – 1) It will be a massive disappointment that doesn’t live up to its ridiculous name, or 2) It will be an absolutely batshit crazy movie that is daft fun beyond words. That or it’ll be a bit boring, or okay yet nothing more than that, and gah, alright, it could go one of four ways then and on this occasion it’s unfortunately the latter, the film is not without merit but it is all a bit of a mess.

Apparently devised one drunken night by its director Sebastian Stein, which will come as no surprise to anyone who watches it, the idea is that Hitler (played by Stein himself) and the Japanese leader Hideki Tojo (Yoshito Akimoto) didn’t die during the war but fled to Ghana, where they managed to not only to find a magic spell that would reverse the ageing process but which also brainwashes people in to joining their army, the “Ghan-Arians”, though “This time without Italy as they suck at war”.

Then it skips forward to the present day where Hitler seems to have been all but forgotten by the local populace, yet now he plans to wage war again, and the way he plans to do this is, er, by holding a martial arts tournament where they’ll fight to the death. Which doesn’t make sense at all, and this frustratingly isn’t the only occasion where things don’t really add up either. Our hero is then introduced, Addae (Elisha Okeyere), who is a pupil at a martial arts school that Hitler attacks, and after Addae’s master is killed he vows revenge.

Unfortunately the film then takes a downturn as Addae’s girlfriend Eva (Nkechi Chinedu) is sexually assaulted by Hideki Tojo in a dark alleyway, initially Eva and her friend mock him, claiming that as he’s Asian they won’t even feel it if he rapes them, in what is an unpleasantly racist scene, until we see Tojo unzip his trousers and witness the shadow of his large penis, which makes the women scream. But then all of a sudden this is forgotten about, and Eva is then Hitler’s girlfriend and seemingly absolutely fine about this.

Miffed that Eva has left him and that his Master is dead Addae attempts to attack Hitler’s third in command, Horse Face Goering (yeah, don’t ask) but his martial arts skills aren’t good enough apparently and so shortly afterwards we get a very disappointing training montage with the very drunken Master Akpeteshie, which seems to involve some very mild slapping and rolling around in the mud, and thirty days later Addae’s sent off to meet Three Finger Joe and forced to hit a tree a lot, and again these scenes are bland and poorly thought out. That’s also the case with a meeting with a weird priestess who claims she can help Addae break Hitler’s spell over the Ghan-Arians, though at least this is a very brief scene.

Things pick up once Addae turns up at the tournament and there’s a number of daft fight scenes with some extremely obvious cgi blood. The best of which features a good old fashioned bit of heart removal, while some ridiculously overt product placement for “Adonko Bitters”, which are made with all natural herbs apparently, made me chuckle each time the banner advert for it comes in to view, and the ending is effective and enjoyable, with the movie feeling like a much higher budgeted affair than it actually was.

It’s odd, a lot of the time it looks professionally filmed and at times the cinematography is even quite impressive, with the fight scenes shot in a way that they look believably fierce, but there’s the odd scene which feels like it was shot with a camcorder by a drunk ten year old. The acting is all over the place too, Addae’s a fine lead and Stein’s Hitler is nicely smug and unlikeable, but a lot of the supporting characters are a little am-dram.

It’s a shame in many ways that it’s not a 30 or 40 minute short film as there’s enough footage here that’s pleasingly odd or unusual, and it’s a work which has some quite memorable moments, including Hitler DJ-ing at a party and Addae’s master being buried in a car shaped coffin, while bits of the dialogue is amusing, like Hitler’s assertion that his soldiers “Be as fast as beef”, and a good few of the fight scenes have laugh out loud moments. But there’s too much padding, and even the final tournament goes on for a bit too long.

The Velocipastor showed that you could take a crazy idea and make something fantastic on a very low budget but alas African Kung Fu Nazis doesn’t quite manage it, yes, some of it is really fun but the middle section with the various training montages is very, very poor, its treatment of Hideki Tojo is questionable, and the couple of moments where the narrative just doesn’t make sense means that it’s a film which at best might be enjoyed if viewed when very drunk, but it’s doubtful even then if it would become a movie anyone praised highly.

★★3/4

Alex Finch.
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