Kung Fury is a mutt. It’s the kind of movie that makes straight-laced, 80’s-kids film critics dive under the theatre seat cushions and cry into the laminated picture they keep of Quentin Tarantino in their wallets.
And we love it.
This movie does almost nothing the “right way”. Starting off as a Kickstarter campaign that failed to meet its goal of $1 million for a feature length film, the Swedish-made project focuses on 80’s-era action movies and aesthetic. The entirety of the film is made to look like a worn VHS, complete with distortion and grain. This came in handy when a cast change was hidden with visual buggery and scenes with large crowds are simply the same few actors copied and pasted liberally. Oh, and its outrun soundtrack features a song by David Hasselhoff – The Hoff – himself.
The trailer and a short intro to the plot tell you all you need to know about what the filmmakers are trying to do here: after Miami police detective Kung Fury apprehends a ninja in an alley, he is struck by lightning and bitten by a cobra, gifting him Kung Fu skills that he needs to defeat a time-travelling Nazi by the name of Kung Führer.
Just writing that threw me right back into the 80’s, and I wasn’t even born then (you smug sod -ed).
The thing about Kung Fury is that everything just… works. The shorter length (the entirety of the film, including credits, is only thirty-one minutes long) means that it never outstays its welcome, the thin humour, cheesy dialogue and cheap visual tricks (which are all intentional, mind) never become irritating as they would in a longer film.
The Hoff himself may be a relic from the time period this movie apes, but his main theme is solid and provides a great backbone for the rest of the score. And for such a (relatively) cheap movie, the green-screen and SFX are solid and believable in the context of the movie’s visuals.
As for characters, you’re not going to find any well known celebrities, especially when their standard pay checks are multiples of this entire film’s budget. David Sandburg as Kung Fury also plays two more off screen roles as director and screenwriter. While you don’t need skills from Juilliard or the ability to recite Shakespeare to pull off Kung Fury’s character, Sandburg still nails the look and feel of an action hero that isn’t built like a strongman that swallowed a body builder.
The other characters are enjoyable but forgettable, and we certainly hope you’re not expecting layered back stories and character development. Special mention must be given to Leopold Nilsson’s Hackerman character, who’s only featured in one scene, but really helps sell the “technobabble” that you find whenever a computer even appears on screen. And he uses a Nintendo Power Glove to “hack time”, so he’s in the running for best character in fiction. Like, ever.
Whenever we review something we have to end off asking if the product is “worth it”. Does the game/book/movie/whatever warrant the time and money…you know, the two most limited things you have. That’s what makes Kung Fury special: there is never any doubt as to whether you should watch it.
Aside from the short, punchy running time, we may have neglected to mention that the entirety of the film is available to watch on Youtube (legally, of course). The only reason you wouldn’t watch this movie is if you hate fun. And puppies. And people. And everything else.
Verdict You don’t have a reason to not watch this 90%