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Kung Fury

D: David Sandberg / 31m

Cast: David Sandberg, Jorma Taccone, Leopold Nilsson, Steven Chew, Andreas Cahling, Erik Hörnqvist, Eleni Young, Helene Ahlson, Per-Henrik Arvidius, Eos Karlsson, David Hasselhoff

1985, Miami. When an arcade machine turns killer robot, there’s only one man for the police call on: Kung Fury! Destroying the robot proves easy for the Chosen One who was once just an ordinary cop. While chasing down a ninja (Karlsson) with his partner, Dragon (Chew), he was struck by lightning… and bitten by a cobra. From then on, and in line with an ancient prophecy, he became Kung Fury, the master of all kung fu, and the greatest crime fighter in the world.

Chewed out by his chief (Arvidius) over the amount of destruction Fury caused in disposing of the robot, he’s alarmed to find he’s got to work with a new partner, Triceracop (Hörnqvist). Refusing the idea point blank, Fury quits. When he learns that Adolf Hitler has travelled from the past to challenge Kung Fury’s position as the Chosen One, he decides there’s only one thing he can do: travel back to Nazi Germany and kill Hitler. With the help of Hackerman (Nilsson), Fury travels back in time, but instead of arriving in the 1940’s he ends up facing a laser raptor in the time of the Vikings. He also meets two Viking women, Barbarianna (Young), and Katana (Ahlson); when he tells them of his dilemma, they introduce him to Thor, the God of Thunder. Thor uses his hammer, Mjolnir, to create a time portal that will take Fury forward to Nazi Germany.

When he arrives, he crashes a rally being given by Hitler and proceeds to take on the assembled Nazi soldiers. Using his kung fu powers he dispatches them with ease, but when Hitler unloads with a machine gun, not even Kung Fury can survive the hail of bullets… or can he?

Kung Fury - scene

Part-funded by Kickstarter contributions, Kung Fury is an absolute blast, a knowing homage/pastiche of Eighties action and cop movies that goes to extreme lengths to entertain its target audience – and succeeds with a great deal of low budget panache. In realising that its budget required a novel approach to the material (written and directed by Swedish filmmaker Sandberg), the movie has been fashioned to look like a degraded copy of an Eighties video release. This allows the movie to hide a variety of problems such as Ahlson’s having replaced Joanna Häggblom, who filmed the scene where Katana summons Thor for the movie’s trailer. With the same footage being used in the completed short, visual scratches and distortion effects are used to hide the change in actress. In addition, the whole visual look of Kung Fury, from its softened colour palette and grainy film stock effect, gives it a pleasing retro feel that adds to the overall result.

The actual storyline is peppered with some of the craziest visual gags you’re likely to see for some time to come, as Sandberg challenges his special effects team in ways that seem impossible to complete on such a small budget: just $630,019. With digital effects, composite effects, model work, and a shed load of green screen work, Sandberg has made a movie that packs more into thirty-one minutes than some movies pack into two hours. Rampaging killer arcade machines, explosions, fight scenes, exploding heads, a giant Norse god, a talking dinosaur, Viking warrior women (with high-tech weapons), time travel, cars being tossed around like toys, gratuitous violence, a giant metal eagle, and Hitler as the Kung Führer – all this and more Sandberg manages to include in his movie, and every insane minute of it is more fun than fans of this twisted kind of thing could ever hope for.

Kung Fury‘s bizarre world is the distillation of every Eighties action cliché imaginable, from Fury being given a tongue lashing over the damage to the city he’s caused, to the absurd computations of Hackerman regarding time travel, to every macho pose that Fury strikes, all the way to Sandberg growling his lines like he gargles with gravel. There are scowling close ups, a portrayal of Hitler that veers between megalomania and whimsy, and in a great cameo, David Hasselhoff as the computer in Fury’s car, the Hoff9000 (he also gets to sing the movie’s theme tune, True Survivor).

It’s a fast, furious, absurdly entertaining fun ride, complete with an animated sequence two thirds of the way through, as well as an epilogue that sets up either a sequel or a full-length feature (either would be welcome). It’s not a movie, though, that will impress the serious cinéaste and is definitely – and defiantly – aimed at the type of movie goer who loves Chuck Norris, movies like Cobra (1986), and recent outings such as Iron Sky (2012). It’s a potent mix, full of WtF? moments, and as crazy funny (or funny crazy) as you’re ever likely to see, the cinematic equivalent of wading naked through a sea of jellyfish. Sandberg is to be congratulated for getting his project off the ground, and for getting it as far the Cannes Film Festival and since its upload to YouTube, an astonishing eight million plus views.

Rating: 8/10 – a few unnecessarily cheesy moments aside, Kung Fury is nothing short of astounding; with its cast and crew judging everything else perfectly, this is one movie that defies all logic by being so (deliberately) bad it’s brilliant.