Film Review: “Kung Fury” is a rad love letter

There are some movies that are so full of holes and flaws that they descend below awfulness and become good again. “The Room” and “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” are perfect, unintentional examples. But what happens when a group of independent Swedish filmmakers tries to intentionally create something so bad that it’s great?

“Kung Fury,” one of the raddest love letters to the ’80s since “Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon,” is the result. And while those looking for a good, deep narrative will be obviously disappointed, we all know straight from the short film’s opening that that isn’t necessary.


The bare-bones of the story is this: Kung Fury, police detective and martial arts master, defeats a rogue arcade machine, and quits his job after getting reprimanded by his boss. He’s brought back, however, when the legendary martial arts master Adolf Hitler (yes, that one) travels forward in time and wreaks havoc. It’s up to Fury and his ragtag gang of rad rockin’ warriors to travel back in time and stop Hitler’s evil kung fu plans once and for all.

There are also vikings. And dinosaurs. David Hasslehoff and the Nintendo Power Glove also make appearances.

The film’s plot is obviously a mess, and at 31 minutes, it doesn’t have long to cram all of that in. But it’s an incredibly beautiful, intentional, and awesome mess, and it’s not just the rapid-fire references and jokes that make it so.

There was a lot of hard craftsmanship that went into “Kung Fury.” While many of the effects are CG, there are a lot of visual tricks, and the film looks astonishingly great considering its $600,000 budget. The choreography deserves a particular mention; as exaggerated as it is, it’s still a joy to watch Fury kick ass with fluid motion. The action feels as well-choreographed and shot as some of the best martial arts movies out there.

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But “Kung Fury” is not a kung-fu movie at heart; instead, it’s all about fitting as many references to the ’80s into the film as possible. The film has blemishes characteristic of old VHS and Betamax tapes, and the soundtrack is synthesized to perfection. There’s even a brilliantly-animated segment made to resemble an old episode of “He-Man” or “Thundercats.” And while it’s all played for laughs, it’s hard not to appreciate the love and care that went into it.

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Naturally, with so many ’80s elements fighting for space in the sparse half-hour run-time, any hopes of a cohesive plot or story are dashed. But the dialogue is so hilariously bad, and the action is so awesome, that it’s hard to care.

For the low price of free, you can hop onto YouTube for a short, affectionate, and hilarious blast to the past. Even if you don’t remember the ’80s, “Kung Fury” is such a good time that it makes it worth a view anyway. And as a Kickstarter-funded independent film, it brings hope to those who want to make their own movies, like so many ’80s classics did for aspiring youth back in the day. There’s nothing to lose from watching it, so give it a watch.