Sunday, December 13, 2015

Kung Fury

When I originally heard about Kung Fury, I was completely on-board with it. If I'd had the cash to back it on Kickstarter, I probably would have. I thought the premise was cool, I thought the trailer was cool, and I was freaking stoked for this movie. When the theme-song debuted earlier this year, I was even more on-board. But by the time the movie came out, I was working flat-out on reviewing books and games. I wound up forgetting about Kung Fury for a few months until one of my friends mentioned it a little whole ago.
I tracked the video down on YouTube, saw that it was only thirty minutes long, and decided I'd watch it on the weekend, since Power Rangers: Dino Charge was taking a break that week.
What was my reaction? Weeeeelll.... It's not bad. Not totally great, but I'd rather spend thirty minutes watching this than most of what's on TV these days.
Not to say that it didn't deliver on what it promised, it's a welcome homage to the '80s. It's a good comedy movie that has some damn fine jokes in it. It's not as earnest as I'd like, but that's not really what we're here for, we're here for the comedy.
Before we get into the rest of the review, you should click here and watch the movie. It's only a half-hour long, and it's free to watch. Go ahead, I'll wait. No, I'm not being paid by Laser Unicorns, they're far more popular than I am, and they don't need my help to get traffic.
You done? Good. Let's get to that summary shall we?
Kung Fury is about a cop named.... Kung Fury. Kung Fury (No, we're never told if he's got a regular name) is a detective with the Miami-Dade Police Department. He's a lone-wolf because his partner was killed by a ninja back in the day. Before the ninja could kill Kung Fury, he got struck by lightening and bitten by a cobra, fulfilling the ancient Kung-Fury prophecy.
After beating-up an arcade-machine that came to life, Kung Fury is assigned a new partner, Triceracop. Since he doesn't want to lose another partner, he turns in his badge. But then Adolf Hitler starts shooting up the police-station through the phone, and Kung Fury is back on the job, getting sent back in time by his buddy, Hackerman. Hackerman is a computer-hacker who uses an NES Power Glove and some classic computer-hardware to hack Kung Fury back in time to kill Hitler, known as The Kung Fuherer in this film. The Kung Fuherer is here to kill Kung Fury and take command of the Kung Fury powers.
Unfortunately, Kung Fury overshoots the 1940s by a few thousand years, and he winds up in the Viking-age, where he runs into laser-dinosaurs and machine-gun wielding viking women, who take Kung Fury on a giant wolf to go meet Thor, who sends Kung Fury to where he needs to be by quoting MC Hammer at him, and sends him to the right time-period.
We then cut to Nazi Germany, where the Nazi's are having a Hitler lookalike contest. Kung Fury beats them up, busts into the Nazi base, and starts going all Mortal Kombat on the Nazi's. It's all a very wholesome experience.
Unfortunately, Kung Fury gets shot by Hitler, and dies.
Fortunately, Hackerman hacks himself, Thor, the viking women, some laser-dinosaurs, and Triceracop back into the 1940s, and they kill all the Nazi's, and defeat The Kung Fuherer. Then, after Kung Fury almost arrests the angel of death for obstruction of justice, Hackerman hacks away Kung Fury's wounds, and brings him back to life. They then travel back to the 80's, and live happily ever after.
Except that The Kung Fuherer used his time-travelling golden bird robot to transport himself into the 80s in a fork of the Kung Fury timeline to corrupt the criminals of 1980s Miami into being Nazi's, ending on a cliffhanger.
Now that we've gone over the plot, it's time to start on some analysis.
Personally, I thought that the whole Viking section of the movie was completely unnecessary. Aside from making a couple of decent jokes, it doesn't serve any real purpose. Maybe if the movie was longer, I could possibly excuse its presene. Even then, it's still detrimental to the overall pacing. Maybe if they cut out the vikings, the movie could have had a proper climax, rather than sputtering out and leaving us on a cliffhanger until the theatrical Kung Fury movie comes out.
All of the scenes that take place in Miami are all fine, if I'd been making the movie, I would have left all of those in. For the most part, I also like the Nazi-Germany section of the movie, right up until the anticlimax.
See, I'm the kind of guy who likes to see an awesome action-scene accompanied by a piece of kickass rock and roll. Optimus Prime breaking the Decepticon line accompanied by The Touch, Rocky pulling off an awesome victory while Eye of the Tiger plays, Kurt Sloane knocking out Tong-Po as Never Surrender starts up, Goku going Super Saiyan while Bruce Faulconer's awesome score plays in the background, Sonic standing up to fight after being beaten-down while It Doesn't Matter starts up... You know the drill.
So, if you know anything about any of the stuff I just mentioned, you'll notice most of those examples came from the 1980s. Considering that Kung Fury is inspired by the '80s, and has an '80s star performing the theme-song, you'd think that Kung Fury would embrace the rock-anthem action-scene that you tend to think of when you think of really good '80s movies. Which begs the question, why didn't it do that? It had the awesome music, it had the potential for an amazing climax to accompany that music, but it didn't put those two things together.
If I had been making this movie I would have cut out the stuff about the vikings and put all of the effort that went into that sequence into the climax of the film. Have True Survivor kick in as Kung Fury makes a mad dash towards Hitler's podium. Have Kung Fury and Hitler have a massive climactic showdown with giant robots, some awesome hand-to-hand combat, and the best final showdown that the budget could possibly allow.
I'm not saying cut out the jokes, I'm just saying to relocate the effort that was put into the Viking sequence (And yes, I thought their version of Thor was freaking awesome.) into the climax of the film.
But that's just as a short-film. If you added another thirty minutes to the movie, tighten up the comedy and direction in the viking sequence, and then it'd be fine. But you'd still need to fix the ending. You could even leave the cliffhanger in if you wanted, but I'd still personally prefer a stronger ending.
Now, let's talk visuals. Kung Fury is presented as if it's being played on an old VHS tape, and they manage to make it look pretty convincing. The effects are gloriously archaic, while also looking really good as well. I love the use of the dog as a giant wolf, and I generally love the look and feel of the movie. However, at some points in the movie I wonder if the effects were intended to look as they do. For instance, in Germany, Kung Fury picks up a tank to smash Nazi's with, and the effects of him lifting the tank look slightly janky, and not in an '80s way, in more of a Sci-Fi original movie way. Although that doesn't take away from the humor of that scene in my opinion.
All in all, Kung Fury is a good movie, and I look forward to the upcoming full-length movie that they're working on. Unfortunately, I've got a bad feeling about the theatrical movie, since Kung Fury seems like a concept that should stick to shorts on the internet as opposed to a feature-length film. It's an idea that seems fairly easy to corrupt, and the final product could wind up being about as funny as a Seltzerberg movie.
In the end though, Kung Fury was an awesome little short, and it's definitely worth watching if you've got a half an hour of free-time. It's definitely a step in the right direction if they keep up the momentum they've gained. I give it an 8.7* rating. I'll see you next week with The Consuming Shadow, hopefully!

Image from