|Original title:||Kung-Fu Zohra|
|Director:||Mabrouk El Mechri|
|Running time:||99 minutes|
|Release date:||Not communicated|
" . I wanted my daughter to have her own Rocky, with the name of her grandmother, since my mother's name is Zohra. After an American experience and series, I also wanted to return to a more personal project that touches on what I love, what I consider to be my identity as a filmmaker. To find a more visceral desire to tell stories. To get away from this environment to reconcile myself with my craft. To explore my family history as well, to try to find stories that could get past the membrane of modesty that sometimes seemed to be "in the way" in my previous films. I also wanted to benefit from my experience and culture of the genre but in a French-speaking space. This is not an ideological film; I am not trying to get a message across. I don't believe in themed films. I believe in stories and characters. - Mabrouk El Mechri
In four films, the director and screenwriter Mabrouk El Mechri has demonstrated a real know-how to give life to solid action films whether it is his two French films (Virgil (2005), JCVD (2008) but especially his first American film No Way Out (The Cold Light of Day) (2012) with the sumptuous casting Henry Cavill, Sigourney Weaver and Bruce Willis. His fourth film, Kung Fu Zohra, does not have the Hollywood feel of his previous film but shows a real desire to bring to life a realistic story set in a Parisian suburb (the film was shot in the Ile-de-France region).
By putting at the center of his story a young woman victim of domestic violence and learning Kung-Fu to defend herself. Looking at Kung-Fu Zohra seems to be a continuation of his film JCVD in which action cinema is at the very center of the story. Mixing social drama, homage to Asian action films, Kung-Fu Zohra is one of the good surprises of this beginning of the year because it shows once again that French cinema is well capable of competing with American action films which are omnipresent in our cinemas and manage to overshadow the richness and diversity of French cinema.
Zohra (Sabrina Ouazani) is a young married woman who works as a cashier in the town where she lives. Married to a violent man, Omar (Ramzy Bedia), she raises their young daughter and has to endure the numerous blows of her alcoholic husband in a difficult professional situation. However, this young woman with a passion for Asian action movies wakes up one day
Convinced that a breakup would break her little girl's heart, Zohra is unable to leave her husband Omar despite the violence she suffers. That's when she meets a Kung-Fu master who will teach her to defend herself and to return blow for blow. She joins a gym as a cleaning lady and spends her evenings cleaning the gym but also training and reproducing fighting postures that she saw on a youtube channel. She will be helped by an old Asian man who does not speak French and who is a real master in martial arts. We suspect that the director has drawn his inspiration from films such as the Karate Kid and Rocky, but also from action films such as those of Jean Claude Van Damme, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.
Kung-Fu Zohra turns out to be a good surprise as the director and screenwriter finds the right balance between social drama, description of a typical suburban life but also action film with its many training scenes and its final fights that fully deserve to discover this film in the cinema. The duo Sabrina Ouazani and Ramzy Bedia works perfectly. One might have had some doubts about an action film centered on an actress more used to comedies and dramas than films requiring a real handling of the fighting arts, but Sabrina Ouazani proves here to be as luminous as convincing. In the same way Ramzy Bedia in a counter role finally shows that he knows how to be something other than a comedy.
Kung-Fu Zohra would have really deserved a better promotion and the fact of not inviting the online press to discover this film turns out to be a bad strategic choice as the theater in which we discovered it this Wednesday was hopelessly empty (only seven spectators in the theater).
Written and directed by Mabrouk El Mechri
Produced by François Kraus, Denis Pineau Valencienne
With Sabrina Ouazani, Ramzy Bedia, Eye Haïdara, Marie Cornillon
Music: El Michels Affair
Cinematography : Pierre-Yves Bastard
Editing : Marc Gurung
Production companies: Les Films du kiosque, Gaumont, France 2 Cinéma
Distributed by Gaumont (France)
Release date: March 9, 2022 (France)
Running time : 99 minutes
Seen on March 9, 2022 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 4 seat A19