Imbued with ancient knowledge of the martial arts, Kung Fury is the best beat cop on the streets, but refuses to take on a new partner because of the grisly fate that met his last partner. But when Adolf Hitler travels to 1985 to claim Kung Fury’s power for himself, hoping to become the Kung Fuhrer in the process, Kung Fury decides to return the favor. With the help of the world’s greatest hacker, Kung Fury travels back in time to stop Hitler from coming to the future. But even the best beat cop on the streets will have to meet a few powerful friends – and his maker – before he can take on the leader of the Third Reich.
Cast: David Sanderson (Kung Fury), Jorma Taccone (Adolf Hitler), Steven Chew (Dragon), Leopold Nilsson (Hackerman), Andreas Cahling (Thor), Per-Henrik Arvidius (Chief / voice of Thor), Erik Hornqvist (Triceracop), Frank Sanderson (voice of Triceracop / Cobra / Dinomite), Eleni Young (Barbarianna), Helene Ahlson (Katana), Yasmina Suhonen (voice of Katana), Magnus Betner (Colonel Reichstache), Bjorn Gustafsson (Private Lahmstache), Eos Karlsson (Red Ninja), David Hasselhoff (HOFF 9000), Klas Trulsson (Police Officer), Mikael Liljeholm (Police Officer), Victor Lindgren (Police Officer), Mattias Andersson (Police Officer), Martin Gardenalm (Police Officer), David Sundqvist (Police Officer), Mattias Colin (Police Officer), Niklas Bjuhr (Police Officer), Hannes Sigrell (Police Officer), Marc Stromberg (Street Thug), Sebastian Sahin (Street Thug), Robin Arvidsson (Street Thug), Tobias Drews (Nazi Experimenter), Bepper Starbrink (Nazi Experimenter), Mats Mossing (Nazi Experimenter), Anette Bergstrom (Nazi Experimenter), Julian Maroda (Boombox Dude), Jason Blalock (Arcade Dude), Hjalmar Ekstrom (Arcade Dude), Joel Dunkels (Guy with Telephone), Sandra Nendos (Boombox Girl), Emilia Bystrom (Don’t Look Back At Explosions Boombox Walker)
LogBook entry and review by Earl Green
Review: Kickstarted well beyond its funding threshold in 2013, Kung Fury was either going to satisfy everyone wowed by its hilarious trailer, or it was going to disappoint everyone – or maybe a little bit of both. I was both underwhelmed and impressed at the same time. Could the trailer’s Swedish cast and crew actually deliver a feature-length dose of the ripped-from-crappy-’80s-action-movies mash-up promised by the trailer?
The answer is: no. Perhaps wisely, they didn’t even try. Kung Fury clocks in at a little over half an hour, probably well short of what many were expecting, but on an artistic and comedic level, one has to respect the decision to not stretch the joke beyond its snapping point. At half an hour, the concept – and the gags – sustain well. There’s one scene, involving two Nazi soldiers comparing moustaches, which drags things to a screeching halt – but even then I was snickering through the whole thing. By not trying to keep the joke on the shelf past its sell-by date, Kung Fury becomes something I wasn’t expecting: in addition to masterfully parodying late ’80s/early ’90s bottom-shelf action flicks, it also parodies the typical ’90s syndication action hour pilot. The ending is left open: a rematch between Kung Fury and Kung Fuhrer is inevitable. This isn’t a movie – it’s a pilot for a series.
The gag that’s so dangerous to stretch out is Kung Fury’s celebration of the utterly brain-cell-free spree of (often direct-to-cable or direct-to-video) late ’80s/early ’90s action flicks. Seemingly vocabulary-stunted martial-arts-master hero with a haunted past? Check. Hot cars? Check. Hero has a penthouse bachelor pad that no policeman could possibly afford? Check. Arcade games that transform into killer robots? Check. A policeman who happens to bed a bipedal dinosaur? Check. (Wait, what?) Going back in time to kill Hitler to prevent him from coming forward in time and committing mass murder, thus inspiring our hero to go back in time to kill Hitler? Check. (You taking notes here?) End credit music sung by David Hasselhoff? Check. Senseless violence? Waiter, check please! This is more Kung Fury than anyone could sustain for an hour and change. The plot is improbable, the acting deliberately lamentable, and the production values actually impressive on a certain level when one realizes that nearly the entire thing was shot against green screen in Sweden.
To gloss over some of the logical flaws in an early action scene, the movie develops “tracking flaws” a la a 1980s VCR dutifully trying to play an overplayed, damaged videotape. Gags like this can be seen as a cheat, or as part of the humor. (Given that the “tracking” effectively fast-forwards through the highlights of an over-the-top fight scene, I’m okay with it. It’s part of the joke.) A little bit less welcome is the chromatic aberration effect drenching the entire movie. While it does evoke the look of a lowest-bidder videotape duplication job (and perhaps more importantly, helps to draw attention gently away from some of the rough edges of the effects work), it’s distracting and a bit hard on the eyes – it’s like the movie is perpetually slightly out of focus.
But these are technical gripes, and there’s so much to love about this movie: the arcade game that, when kicked by one of its patrons, transforms into a killer robot and goes on a rampage (as someone who has owned a vintage arcade game, I found this concept incredibly satisfying); vaguely effeminate Hitler (“what ze f#$&?”) and his robotic eagle mascot; the aforementioned eagle robot having an incredibly ineffectual fight with a T-rex whose arms can’t reach it; the whole thing grinding to a halt for a cell phone product placement; Thor (yes, as in the god of thunder) entreating his allies to admire his pecs; weirdly framed close-ups and improbable martial arts stunts that no human could possibly pull off without the aid of CGI; a police officer who inexplicably happens to be a dinosaur with a British accent (which no one finds the least bit extraordinary)…the list is endless. This is every bad movie ever to land in the 1980s, filtered through the mindset of Police Squad and The Naked Gun, played for deadly earnest to heighten the laugh factor.
Kung Fury is everything its trailer promised it would be, and it doesn’t commit the fatal error of outstaying its welcome. Which, of course, demands the answer to the following question: when do we get Kung Fury 2? And where are the action figures?