Three Kung-fu students fight against a Satanic Mexican drug cartel in order to avenge their master.
Isabela (Aislinn Derbez), Jesús (Jonny Cruz), and Silencio (the silent one) are students of Sifu Chiu (Vic Chao) an ancient Chinese Kung-fu master who moved to the Mexican town of San Simon. One day, their master is killed by a mystically-empowered initiate of the Santa Nucifera cult/cartel who then goes on a rampage destroying much of the town. The three then vow revenge upon Santa Nucifera and their leader El Balde (Danny Trejo). They are aided along the way by DEA Agent Brister (Mike Colter) and Federale Investigator Garcia (Angelica Vale).
This show is basically a series of exploitation films nested inside of a TV show and I mean that in the best way. They clearly know it too, as the show is animated like it was filmed in the 1960s and played on a VHS in the 90s. It’s got some static at points, some sound errors, and even a few times where the edges of the “film” are caught in frame, all of which gives it more of the feel of an old Kung-fu movie.
Much like Avatar: The Last Airbender, a lot of care was put into the various styles that the characters use to fight. Isabela, a defensive person who wants to protect people, uses Hung Ga (also the Earthbending forms from Avatar). Silencio uses Bak Mei, the aggressive “white eyebrow” style, which becomes literal as he becomes more violent. Jesús uses drunken boxing, because he’s a party dude. It’s one of those little touches that allows the show to better utilize visual storytelling.
One of the most interesting things about the show is watching how the characters and the series itself blend Mexican and Chinese cultural elements. It’s interesting to see the two compared and contrasted through the actions of the different characters in the series. It’s also neat to see the supernatural martial arts elements from Wuxia films matched up against the kind of supernatural elements seen in old-school Mexican Lucha films, represented by El Balde and his minions.
Overall, I recommend this show if you like exploitation films, either Eastern or Western.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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