Kung Fu Ghost opens with Daisy (Jennifer N. Linch, Malevolence), a young Vietnamese woman, being informed that she’s inherited her grandfather’s house in California. She plans to sell it and go back to Vietnam, it’s in San Diego so I can’t blame her, but the terms of the will call for her to live there for a week before she can do that.
She’s barely in the house when Marv (Mark Atkinson, Dark Harbour, God Incorporated) and Harry (Eddie Lain, Shooters) break in, looking for an artifact that belonged to her grandfather. They’re scared off by the ghosts of Grandfather (David S. Dawson, What’s the Vig?) and his student, William (Noah Sargent, The Devil’s Bathtub: A Pine Mountain Exposition, The Radcliffes).
Kung Fu Ghost leans heavily on the comedy as Daisy tries to do a video call between herself, the ghosts, and her Aunt Minh (Kiki Yeung, Kill Zone 2, Star Leaf) that goes just as you expect. There are also hints of a Ghost and Mrs. Muir type romance between Daisy and William. It’s not until Warren (Rene Fernandez) sends The Boss (Whitney Wegman-Wood, The Evil Rises, Mystery Highway) and her ninjas after the artifact that the action kicks in, Daisy is possessed by her Grandfather who uses her body to fight them off.
Yes, Kung Fu Ghost also becomes a family-friendly version of Ninja III: The Domination, and then it turns into The Karate Kid as the ghosts teach Daisy martial arts so she can deal with intruders herself. And along with that, she learns about responsibility as well as self-reliance. Linch has trained in several martial arts so the fight scenes look good. Stunt coordinator Shane Alexander (The Mercenaries, I Am Gitmo) and action director Jason Truong (SuperGrid, Cagefighter) do a good job of keeping things exciting without being too intense for younger viewers.
Where I had issues with Kung Fu Ghost was its humor. Linch, who directed as well as star and writer Ivan White made sure that much of that is very definitely aimed at young kids. As a result, it frequently seemed almost unbearably silly to me. Way too much time is spent watching Linch making silly faces and on exchanges like “When was the last time you exercised?” “I exercise my right not to exercise”. It’s on the level of a show on one of the children’s channels or a bad sitcom. Kids and those who like sitcoms will be delighted, however.
The romance between Daisy and William is cute enough that the girls should like it and gives Daisy enough opportunities to dance around looking cute that boys probably won’t be turned off by it. Adults may find the pair’s pottery-making scene gives them a chuckle at the expense of another cinematic couple.
I should also mention that due to its low budget, Kung Fu Ghost is rough around the edges when it comes to its technical aspects. There are scenes where the sound is uneven and others where the lighting changes abruptly. And, as expected, the CGI explosions during the brief Vietnam War flashback are terrible. If you’re used to low-budget films that probably won’t matter too much though those used to major studio perfection may be put off.
Overall Kung Fu Ghost should appeal to its target audience, younger kids. There’s enough action to keep them amused and the jokes are geared towards them as well. Parents or older siblings on the other hand may not find too much to keep them amused. And if you do make it through the film stick around for the “25 Years Later” coda and the behind-the-scenes footage during the end credits.
Vision Films will release Kung Fu Ghost on DVD as well as to VOD and Digital platforms across the U.S. and Canada on August 2nd. You can check their website, or the film’s website, for more information.