Don’t let the fact that you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars stop you from making your movie. Just make it and try to have fun while doing so. Director/co-writer Jennifer N. Linch’s Kung-Fu Ghost shows that fun can overcome a production’s lack of an overblown (hell, under-blown) budget.
Daisy (Jennifer N. Linch) is a young woman who inherits her late Grandpa’s home in San Diego. After a long trip across the Pacific, Daisy feels uneasy after realizing the house may be haunted. Unable to sleep, she encounters a pair of robbers, Marv (the great Mark Atkinson) and Warren (Rene Fernandez), looking for an ancient artifact Grandpa hid. The frail Daisy is no match for the robbers, but they did not anticipate the ghosts of her Grandpa (David S. Dawson) and his spectral cohort, William (Noah Sargent), coming to the rescue. Grandpa possesses Daisy, using her body to defeat the baddies.
Soon Daisy learns that she wasn’t called to her Grandpa’s home to inherit it but to protect it. What she lacks in physical prowess, she more than makes up in wholesome virtue. Now it’s up to her Grandpa’s ghost and the handsome, hunky William to train her in Kung Fu to protect the artifact so that Grandpa doesn’t have to possess Daisy anymore. The stakes ratchet up as the mysterious boss of the original would-be thieves sends more henchpersons before showing up himself for the final showdown.
From the moment that Kung Fu Ghost begins, you’ll notice that the film is an ultra-low-budget, incredibly silly action flick with ghosts. Let’s get the criticisms out of the way now. Access to very little resources means the movie translates to cheap production values across the board. The sound leaves a lot to be desired, the soundtrack is canned, and the visual effects are simplistic in nature. Rehearsals could have also been of great benefit. The production had very little money, and it shows.
“Grandpa possesses Daisy, using her body to defeat the baddies.”
That doesn’t mean this action-comedy should not have been made. Film Threat believes people need to make motion pictures, even if it means using your cellphone or second-hand equipment and making do with what you have at your disposal. There is good in Linch and co-writer Ivan White’s story while still definitely having room for improvement.
As Daisy, Linch is a hero worth rooting for. She plays the slightly ditzy damsel-in-distress perfectly. When she finally kicks into action, she’s fun to watch. I appreciate the fact that Linch knew the limitations of her budget and found ways to work around them. She definitely leans into the comedy potential of the premise while weaving in decent action scenes throughout.
I think dialogue is the greatest weakness of Kung Fu Ghost. Comedy-wise, it’s a little too silly for my tastes, and much of it feels improvised. I love improvisation, but the humor needs to be more focused, and the dialogue and jokes tightened to feel like a natural conversation rather than haphazard humor just thrown in. The best scene has Daisy learning pottery from William, and as fun, as it is, it really needed some rehearsal and better blocking.
Kung Fu Ghost definitely finds its inspiration from the Roger Corman “shoot it and move on” school of filmmaking, but to make that style work well, preparation is the key and needed desperately here. That said, there is a fanbase for low-budget indie action films, and this will find its home there. Its imperfections keep the movie from getting a comfortable recommendation, but there’s enough fun and silliness to push it barely over the line. In other words, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it will be entertaining to the right crowd.
Kung Fu Ghost is currently available on all major VOD platforms.
"…Linch is a hero worth rooting for."