There was a trailer from about a year and a half ago that made quite the splash. And then there was the David Hasselhoff music video from back in April that reminded people to go watch that trailer again. And finally, as of late last week, it has all come together in Kung Fury, and you should probably watch it.
Kung Fury is a Kickstarted short film that takes everything that makes you laugh about and cringe at the 80s and compresses it into a tight 30-minute block of absurdity. Despite being rather well funded at $630,019, it still possesses the charm of a dirt poor but well executed indie endeavor. So much of it has a cavalier, brazen quality to it that makes it hard to hate, even if pugilistic arcade cabinets aren’t your thing.
It takes a cop (David Sandberg) imbued with the powers of the prophetic Kung Fury to go back in time and defeat Adolf Hitler (Jorma Taccone)—better known as the Kung Führer—before he can murder his entire precinct. It is 100-percent ridiculous and somewhere around 90-percent terrific. For all the quirky gags and batshit scenarios, it still has a few flaws.
There are moments where the in-your-face “haha it’s the 80s GET IT” schtick wears thin. Or rather, it takes an odd turn from pitch-perfect parody to some uncomfortable and unintentional cynicism. The bits like the phone number with the Viking ladies still pull in laughs but they push in some modicum of metaphysical consideration.
The vast majority of the film, however, is superb. It paces excellently between over-the-top machismo, illogical yet logical action, and easily quotable one-liners. It even knows when to take it slow and develop some actual plot, no matter how crazy it is. Slowing down is vital for a movie like this. You want the viewer to know when insanity is happening and not for it to become ordinary.
But even the more deliberate sections are still memorable and hilarious. From the sojourn into the far past and the perfectly cast (and dressed) hacker character and especially the conversation about mustaches, it all adds variety to the pacing as well as variety to the jokes. Instead of just bodies exploding and an inexplicable triceratops as a cop, there is some good setup and delivery as well.
However, the exploding bodies and Triceracops and their ilk should be noted as positives. For all the untamed madness, there is a calculated methodology to the proceedings. There are times where it feels like a reference is made just for the sake of the reference, but there are also plenty of times where a joke stands perfectly well on its own in addition to the context of the action.
I do worry, however, that this will only bring about more and more pieces of media that try to emulate what Kung Fury does. Without the deft and careful handling of the material, the ensuing experiments could easily delve into “zany” territory. It’s a shame I wrote about things being what they are instead of what people want them to be last week. It would work so well for this movie.
Paranoia aside, you should watch Kung Fury. It’s free, it’s brief, and it’s packed with enough good times to keep you smiling for days later. So get to it!