BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
With Ken Gampu (The Gods Must Be Crazy) at the front of the action and the team in this soccer-centered exploitation classic, Joe Bullet arrives on home entertainment platforms for a whole new generation of badass cinema lovers to discover. Personally, I can think of no better way to celebrate Black History month than by watching this banned Blaxploitation feature film.
Joe Bullet, loaded with fiery action sequences and plenty of wild moments, is a low budget flick that mixes the underworld with some martial arts and throws in a soccer team for good measure. Gampu is Joe Bullet and only he has the brass balls to fight off a gaggle of evil henchmen and survive one booby-trap after another with style and martial arts mojo.
Co-starring Joe Lopez, singer/activist Abigail Kubeka, and Jimmy Sabe, Joe Bullet concerns itself with protecting the sanctity of the sport of soccer as it kicks every ass who gets in its way. Brutal and highly-charged, the corruption on display throughout this Johannesburg-shot film was a bit too close for comfort for some members of the South African Apartheid Government who took offense to a black man owning a gun and driving a nice car. They responded to its all-African cast by banning the film after only two showings.
The ban might have been lifted, but the film never resurfaced. Until now.
Thanks to the foresight of writer/producer Tonie van der Merwe who stored the film in his garage, Joe Bullet can now be seen in its entirety with this special-edition release from The Film Detective. With plenty of Bond-like scenarios, Bullet throws off each attack as he attempts to save The Eagles’ two kidnapped star soccer players and rescue his own love.
Directed by Louis de Witt, Joe Bullet is a hard-hitting film that is patterned a bit after some guerrilla-style flicks of the time. It is, at once, impressive in its realism and brief, capturing each action beat with an incomplete and unfocused energy that is both a positive and a negative. I appreciate the authentic look of the shoot.
Some 40+ years since it was last seen, Waterfront Film Studios have digitally restored the film from the film’s original 35mm film elements. The film is presented in full screen with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and Dolby Digital Sound. An audio commentary from van der Merwe, documentary filmmaker Calum Waddell and Benjamin Cowley compliments the film, giving us a bit of explanation on its banning and the overall affect the film had on the locales; this is folk history stuff and it is amazing to consider.
Grab this release before it is too late and “beware if he’s looking for you…”
Joe Bullet’s gonna get you!
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 79 mins
Director: Louis de Witt
Writer: Tonie van der Merwe
Cast: Ken Gampu, Joe Lopez, Abigail Kubeka
Tagline: In the criminal underworld of soccer, one man will have to save the championship.
Memorable Movie Quote: "He's the man. The Man who fights eveil."
Theatrical Distributor: No theatrical distribution
Release Date: No theatrical release in U.S.
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: February 21, 2017
Synopsis: When a mysterious gangster starts sabotaging soccer team The Eagles' chance at winning the upcoming championship final, there is only one man who can save the day...Joe Bullet.
Joe Bullet - The Film Detective Restored Version
Home Video Distributor: Film Detective
Available on DVD - February 21, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
Audio: Dolby Digital
Discs: Single DVD disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback
Waterfront Film Studios have digitally restored the film from the film’s original 35mm film elements. The film is presented in full screen with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and Dolby Digital Sound. There really isn’t a flaw to be found considering the history of the film and its low budget beginnings. Sure, this is grain-heavy and purists will dig that quality in the 1080p release. The film is intentionally shaky and amateurish and the colors are warm and constant as is the image. Black levels are solid as are the skin textures. While there is ZERO depth to many of the shots and dirt and some scratches still pop up, Joe Bullet has never looked better. The sound is adequate for this release.
An audio commentary from van der Merwe, documentary filmmaker Calum Waddell and Benjamin Cowley compliments the film.
The DVD features the audio commentary, a trailer, and a look at the restoration of the movie.
- Before-and-After Restoration Demo