The Film Detective will be teaming with the Gravel Road Entertainment Group on Feb. 21 for the release of a restored special DVD edition of noted South African cinematographer Louis de Witt’s 1973 film, Joe Bullet.
Joe Bullet is film school, it’s Blaxploitation (but if you are a genre fan, Joe Bullet might be unfamiliar to you), it is history too and so much more.
Imagine making an all-black film in South Africa in 1971. Nelson Mandela was in his seventh year as a prisoner on Robben Island (he would be there for 18 long years) and Apartheid was the law of the land.
In was in this environment that Joe Bullet was made. It is every bit a Blaxploitation film (as we know them) and it also a martial arts films … and if it would have found its way out of South Africa back then it would have been a theatrical hit.
That it would be a commercial success in early 1970s in the United States, however, was not to be the case. It was finished in 1973, and had, according to history, just two theatrical screenings, and was then was promptly banned by the South African government.
How could you have a black action hero? Ken Gampu was just that, the title character, who takes on the mob, who are trying to intimate The Eagles, a soccer team with championship aspirations.
The name Ken Gampu should ring some bells, he was featured in such films as The Naked Prey, The Wild Geese, Zulu Dawn and The Gods Must Be Crazy. But even with a known property, the film was lost for forty years! Now, thanks to the Film Detective and Gravel Road Entertainment Group the world can finally savor Ken Gampu starring in Joe Bullet on DVD.
Bonus features include commentary by writer Tonie van der Merwe, prolific documentary filmmaker Calum Waddell and Gravel Road Entertainment Group’s Benjamin Cowley and a before and after restoration demo.