Kung Fu Zohra: For the duo Sabrina Ouazani- Ramzy Bedia [critique]

The two actors are amazing in this strange film where too many ideas jostle to convince completely

A battered woman learns martial arts to finally fight back against her abusive husband. Nothing to say about this pleasing pitch, affirming the sympathetic cinephilia which permanently animates Mabrouk El Mechri: after JCVDepisodes of the series Brothel and a detour not really transformed in the USA (the mollasson action film No Exit with Henry Cavill), the director is trying to return to a direct, fun and straightforward cinema. Except it doesn’t really work. It looks like several different films got badly bruised in the editing room. It begins as an absurd comedy where Zohra (Sabrina Ouazani) hangs out her washing in the bled while watching HK classics in the background, before leaving for the French suburbs for a marital drama commented in voiceover by a bus driver (Eye Haïdara) which will disappear for almost the entire rest of the film, before ending as a tribute to vintage kung-fu films with two big fight scenes… one of which will illustrate the end credits, in a corner of the screen like a Jackie Chan blooper.

So the pieces don’t really stick, Kung Fu Zohra constantly oscillating between its two poles, the most total seriousness and the most uninhibited fun, too contradictory to work together (what does this sifu barely speaking French, a pale copy of Master Miyagi, in a suburban gymnasium?). The film would have really benefited from going all out in one direction: the wobbly assembly of the film pleads for a problem of post-production rather than intention. As we say in The Adventures of Jack Burton in the Claws of the Mandarin, if it doesn’t work, it’s because the spirit and the soul go north and south. That said, Sabrina Ouazani and Ramzy Bedia, in the main roles, are absolutely overpowered, both natural and overplayed, and literally eat every scene until their final (and very nice) fight. Just for their duo, it looks like it’s worth it.

From Mabrouk El Mechri. With Sabrina Ouazani, Ramzy Bedia, Eye Haïdara… Duration: 1h38. Released March 9, 2022

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