You aren’t ready for Kung Fury. The world isn’t ready for Kung Fury. The yet-to-be-explored universes that exist all around us aren’t ready for Kung Fury.
Words can’t describe what in the hell filmmaker David Sandberg accomplished with his kung-fu-nazi-fighting-time-traveling epic short film, and I couldn’t hack into the future to discover what new phrases we eventually create to praise such 80s action lunacy, but I’m going to give it a whirl in an unconventional method. Below are the notes I took while Kung Fury was karate-chopping his way through street thugs and angry machines, and instead of turning them into coherent paragraphs and into a formal review, I’m just going to comment on the perfect journey that took place.
But before that, let me actually do my film critic thing and offer my opinion on Kung Fury, which will undoubtedly go down as the greatest Kickstarter achievement in the cinematic history of mankind.
Real Talk: Kung Fury is far more than a self-aware, satirical, action-packed homage that oozes unquantifiable creativity. The technological accomplishment of this green-screen beauty proves what meticulous crafting can accomplish on such a (relatively) tiny budget, from mechanized Nazi symbols to lighting-quick editing transfers, and this is all done using only green screens.
Yes, the film does get a pass for purposely bringing a cheesiness that once graced antenna-topped televisions of the 80s, but Sandberg’s driving tone perfectly sets these otherwise out-of-place moments as hilarious anecdotes that call back to Corman and other schlock-jocks. Kung Fury is nothing short of astounding, and puts mainstream cinema to absolute shame in almost every sense – yet it needed a Kickstarter just to greenlight 30 minutes of mind-exploding awesomeness. It’s kind of like Lethal Weapon meets Streets of Rage meets Big Trouble In Little China – with a lot more exploding heads, lasers, and Norse Gods. And it rules.
Alright, with that out of the way let’s dive into my notes (italics) and try to truly appreciate Kung Fury:
Intro from trailer: skateboard car flip explosion. Standard.
Kung Fury opens with three thugs and a police run-in. After being asked if they have permits for their weapons, one thug props his skateboard under the cop’s cruiser and launches it into the air. The thugs start firing a flurry of bullets and the car explodes in a fiery ball of destruction. This, my friends, is the world of Kung Fury.
Angry arcade game comes to life, flipping everyone off, “Fuck You” text reading like “Game Over,” shooting lasers and blowing heads up.
This is where the intensity starts to heighten (like, thirty seconds in). Here I am, laughing at the cop car kickflip, and mere seconds later a retro arcade game comes to life after a bratty player gets pissed and gives it a kick. Foolish mortal, this is the world of Kung Fury! Where everything gets angry, deals death, and knows ‘effing karate. This is where the blood started flowing, yet I had no idea what in the fuck was about to happen.
LIKE, HOLY SHIT BLOWING HEADS UP. GOOEY.
Sandberg (who plays Kung Fury) doesn’t only ensure that his punch-throwing is flawless, and that settings capture a sleazy, glossy, neon vibe, but when the action kicks in, so do some explosive effects that bring heaping amounts of gore. Body parts fly around lifelessly after being sliced by a katana, goo squirts everywhere and hilarity ensues. A+ for bodily annihilation!
“Yeah. That’s my bicep.” Crumbles phone. Sounds like Clint Eastwood. WHO IS KUNG FURY?!
Greatest character introduction ever. When we meet Kung Fury, he’s sitting in his super-sleek dojo/apartment, lamenting in the constant pain that is being a kung fu master. When his girlfriend walks over and sits next to him, she gently touches his arm as a sign of affection. His response? “Yeah. That’s my bicep,” in his mysterious, Christian-Bale-Meets-Dirty-Harry voice that’s become so popular amongst action heroes. Then he gets a phone call about the arcade machine attack currently underway, and instead of hanging up, he simply crushes the phone by squeezing. Ash to ash. Dust to dust.
This is not made for mortal eyes.
At this point, Kung Fury is standing on his Lamborghini, shooting a handgun while it flies through the air like a militarized magic carpet. I knew, in this moment, that our mortal world was not fit for Kung Fury.
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Fuzzy VHS cutaways nail the crumby 80s vibe. Static. Missing segments.
Sandberg is a clever man, because this is how Kung Fury saves face. By embracing the grainy charm of old-school video cassettes (like big, movie-playing bricks for you young readers), high-def quality doesn’t become a priority. We don’t expect a crisp picture, and where imperfections might exist, they become part of a greater gimmick.
FIGHTING IN SPACE WITHOUT SUIT ON.
This made me LOL hard. Kung Fury, fighting a robot assassin video game, in space, while still dressed as a civilian.
“I could tell he was dead straight off” – split in half
Kung Fury is PACKED with fantastic, aptly-timed quotes that will forever be echoed by superfans of this short film. The above is a perfect appropriation of Kung Fury’s oblivious nature and perfected stupidity. Yes, of course Kung Fury could tell his partner was dead, because he’d just been split in half by a sword. And was laying in two separate pieces.
Hit by lightning and bitten by a cobra – blacks out and sees an ancient prophecy, the chosen one masters it, he becomes the chosen one – a kung fu freak of nature.
Ah, a mighty warrior’s backstory – crammed into a short film’s timeframe. Screw the montages and training sessions. Kung Fury blacks out, and wakes up with powers. Cut out the fluff, get on with the beat-downs. Done. On to the next scene, where he’ll undoubtedly punch something into outer space. There is far more movie in Kung Fury than thirty minutes permit – and that’s a good thing.
“Knock Knock.” “Who’s there?” “Knuck…les?” throws punch, kicks up, powers into gas tanker, EXPLOSION.
Another classic Kung Fury line. At this point, I started saying “Classic Fury” every time he spit out a killer one-liner, as MacGruber characters uttered every time Grubes dropped his own brand of comedy. Oh, and the tanker explosion – it’s caused by a rival ninja being punched downward into it. Because in Kung Fury, everything blows up.
80s SYNTH ROCK SOUNDTRACK.
Johan Bengtsson, Lost Years, and Patrik Öberg come together to provide an 80s synth-rock vibe that’s in line with all the ambitious kung fu glory. I mean, in the 80s, who couldn’t rock a keytar and get lost in the afterglow of cocaine-laced nightclubs? Kung Fury is no different. Plus, David Hasselhoff recorded a brand new song for the film titled “True Survivor,” which is pretty much all you need in life.