Move over, Shaft! Get out the way, Sweet Sweetback! There’s a new main man in town and he’s a bad mother-THULA UMLOMO WHAKO! That town is New York City, in which a very special screening will be held this week for Joe Bullet, a 1971 South African action film that was banned after just two screenings by the Apartheid government at the time. Joe Bullet was one of the first South African films to feature an all-black cast, and was also made to cater specifically to the black community, but this was apparently too much for the movie censors back then.
Although producer/director Tonie Van De Merwe would use the movie as a springboard to setup a subsidized program that would see several black filmmakers staggeringly produce approximately 1600 of these B-movies over the next two decades, Joe Bullet itself would remain locked away for the next 40 years. Eventually the film was unbanned, but it still didn’t actually get released to the public.
Now the film – a blaxploitation inspired action romp starring the late, great Ken Gampu – is finally seeing the light of day again, digitally restored thanks to New York’s Museum of Modern Arts’ 12th International Festival of Film Preservation festival. So if you’re in the Big Apple this week, make sure to check out this previously lost piece of South African cinema. The rest of us will just have to make do with this really cool trailer that even comes with its own catchy theme song. And karate chops!
When local soccer team The Eagles fall prey to a series of onslaughts from a mysterious gangster, only a week before the championship final, the team turns to the one man who can help save their chances at victory – Joe Bullet (Ken Gampu). Joe will have to battle against villainous henchmen, escape booby-trap bombs, and bring his martial arts expertise to the fore, in order to survive an attack from a deadly assassin. In the end, he will have to infiltrate the mysterious gangster’s hide-out in a dangerous cat-and-mouse rescue mission to save not only The Eagles’ 2 kidnapped star players, but that of his beautiful love interest, Beauty (Abigail Kubeka). The odds will be stacked against him, but he’s the man that fights crime, the man that no one can tie down! Joe Bullet!”
Let’s hope this gets a local release soon, or even just a DVD release.
Last Updated: November 12, 2014