Kung Fu Zohra (2022)

Kung Fu Zohra
Director: Mabrouk El Mechri
Writer: Mabrouk El Mechri
Cast: Sabrina Ouazani, Ramzy Bedia, Eye Haidara, Tien Shue, Lina Hachani
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 5.5.2022

Content Note: domestic violence

When Zohra (Sabrina Ouazani) meets Omar (Ramzy Bedia), they connect over a shared love for kung fu movies. It doesn’t take long until they are married and Zohra finds herself in a new city with a new job and a new friend in Binta (Eye Haidara). But after a rather smooth start, things get bumpy. Omar starts hitting Zohra and she finds herself unable to leave him. Instead she finds strength in training her fighting skills.

Kung Fu Zohra is probably the funniest film about domestic violence in existence, combining a martial arts comedy with astute commentary on DV – a combination that shouldn’t work but does somehow.

The film poster showing Zohra (Sabrina Ouazani) in a fighting pose wearing a red kimono-like shirt with an arab letter on the back.

I don’t know many classic martial arts movies – something that is probably a disadvantage for watching Kung Fu Zohra. It is obviously a film that pays tribute a lot to the tradition it comes from and I have probably missed at least two thirds of all the nods. Despite that, though, I had an excellent time with Kung Fu Zohra.

I was a little worried when the film was introduced as a domestic violence drama mixed with a martial arts comedy. But surprisingly the combination works. The film knows what to joke about – and it never jokes about the abuse. And it manages to throw in some very astute observations about the dynamics of such an abusive relationship.

Zohra (Sabrina Ouazani) in a shopping center, looking happy.

Ouazani is an amazing lead (and also way too pretty to be real? How perfect can somebody look??). She really captures Zohra’s will of steel. That, and her physical strenght, really belie any narrative that casts the victims of DV as simply too weak. It’s really more complex than that, and weakness is only a small part of everything.

In any case, I really enjoyed the film – a film that made me both laugh and angry. And that definitely made me cheer for Zohra and her fight for safety and independence.

Zohra (Sabrina Ouazani) in a fighting pose.

Summarizing: a great kick-off for the SLASH 1/2.

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