Overview: The Chosen kung fu master, Kung Fury, faces off against Adolf Hitler, the Kung Führer. Laser Unicorns Lampray; 2015; Not Rated; 31 minutes.
’80s Gold in 2015: Parody and homage aren’t exclusive. To craft successful parody, you need to love some aspect of what you’re poking fun at. If you’re going to homage something, you need to understand what does/doesn’t work. Kung Fury somehow worked to do both and cram everything in between.
What makes it work so well is the short, 30 minute runtime. A feature length movie could possibly work but a full hour and a half runs the risk of overstaying its welcome. Just over half an hour, Kung Fury blasts onto screen with dated visuals and wit that is exciting when it should be moronic.
The ludicrous creativity found in the jokes is worth mentioning but anybody can throw random nostalgic callbacks and expect a chuckle or two. Kung Fury takes the controlled chaos of an arcade game coming to life, a Triceratops police officer, a hacker named Hackerman, Viking women wielding machine guns, and Thor, to build up to a climax so out of touch with reality it’s necessary to appreciate it.
The whole affair is a loving celebration of unbridled creativity that just happens to be so, so dumb. But it’s not the sort of dumb that’s worth mocking. We’re all in on the joke. It’s nothing new but there’s passion behind this project. This passion just happens to involve bringing to life a time-traveling Hitler. There are also laser velociraptors for those interested.
The film was financed on kickstarter, making three times its required budget and somehow it all shows on screen. Visual gags are constantly flowing from the screen, with the majority of them hitting the mark. One could fall back on the intentionally cheap aesthetic to get out of good set design, but there’s a precision to the cheapness. It doesn’t accidentally look like a VHS quality film. It strives for it. Nothing about this was half-assed.
I can see people not being on board for this short. It doesn’t strive to do traditional movie stuff. There’s nothing compelling to turn this into a certified hit with any group beyond ’80s action fans. But maybe that’s enough. For a wholeheartedly entertaining ’80s action romp with modern self-awareness, you can do no better than Kung Fury. Although I will accept Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon as another worthy example of ’80s cheese nostalgia done proper.
Finale Note: Kung Fury is a love letter to the terrible greatness of 80s synthpop and B movies.