Blaxploitation from South Africa Hits the States: Check Out JOE BULLET

You oughta know by now… I love exploitation cinema. The more obscure the better. Weird regional shit is my favorite and I can’t think of anything more exciting than stumbling across a lost film from South Africa. The story behind this film may be more exciting than the movie itself, but (don’t get me wrong) the movie is far from boring.

It debuted at the Eyethu cinema in Soweto and after 2 screenings it was shut down by the Aparteid government. It was eventually taken off of the banned list, but quickly disappeared. Now that it is almost 40 years later, we finally get a release. What is so important to note is that Bullet Joe is one of the first South African films to ever have an entirely African cast. It goes without saying, this act pissed off the oppressors and (assumedly) contributed to its mysterious disappearance.

The story starts with a soccer team practicing and we are quickly explained that it is one week before the Championship finals. Out of nowhere a mysterious gangster starts sabotaging the team’s chances of winning. By sabotaging, I mean killing people and reeking havoc on the whole team. Once he kidnaps the team’s 2 star players, they call on the baldest dude in town… Joe Bullet.

Joe Bullet is an odd movie and its protagonist is as badass as his name. He comes on the scene dressed in a gi and quickly flexes his abilities. These types of films are great and always suck me in! They are simple, but effective tales of a ghetto hero that is defiantly standing up for the people (no matter what). As you might have guessed, he comes with a funky soundtrack and multiple scenes of an actress performing the theme song.

The only downside is the quality of the transfer. I believe that they did their best, but audio can be muddy and scenes can look a little rough. My reaction could stem from being spoiled by companies like Vinegar Syndrome, but it can still be a tad distracting. The movie is definitely not as slick as the blaxploitation films of America, but brings its own charm and culture. Joe Bullet is (extra) special because it allows viewers to look into a time and place that we will never be able to see again. Just for that, this film is worth the purchase price.

Blaine McLaren
Blaine McLaren was born in Texas, but has called Atlanta his home for over 20 years. He has spent a lifetime obsessed with cinematic oddities, with a soft spot for rubber monster flicks and gore soaked head scratchers. He is the lead writer and owner of and is a regular contributor for multiple sites and podcasts.
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