Monday, May 04, 2015

Sean Kelly

Hot Docs 2015: Chuck Norris vs. Communism


Citizens in communist Romania find an escape in the form of bootlegged VHS action films in Chuck Norris vs. Communism.  In the 1980s, Romania was under control by a communist dictatorship, where citizens’ only view of the outside world came from bootlegged American films, which were viewed at secret screening parties.  The tapes were imported by an enigmatic man named Mr. Zamfir, who hired a translator named Irinia Nister to dub over the dialogue.  These tapes became a symbol for resistance, which helped to bring down the communist regime.

Chuck Norris vs. Communism is a film that plays out like a real life thriller, which makes heavy use of some well-produced re-enactments to tell the story of this underground Romanian tape bootlegging operation.  Despite the film’s title, Chuck Norris doesn’t feature much in the film, even though there is mention of how Missing in Action was an inspiration to kids.  The real protagonist of this story is Irina Nister, who translated over 3000 films by 1989 and was viewed by many as the symbol for this communist resistance, even if many did not even know what she looked like.

Even though Chuck Norris vs. Communism has interviews with multiple individuals, including Irina Nister and Zamfir, the story of the film is told primarily through the re-enactments.  The re-enactments are quite well done and it makes it seem like I am actually watching a Hollywood thriller.  There are many twists and turns in this story, which made for a pretty enjoyable watch.  Altogether, while the title makes it sound like a different type of documentary, Chuck Norris vs. Communism is a decent real life thriller, which shows the power of bootlegged VHS tapes.

★ ★ ★ ★ | LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).