KUNG FURY Review: Exaggerated ’80s Nostalgia Done Right

A great example of how this stuff can actually work.

Within the first two minutes of Kung Fury, an angry arcade game sprouts limbs and goes on a rampage in which it attacks people by flipping them off. When it starts getting tired, it breaks a parking meter and feeds itself quarters. That’s just one tiny bit of the craziness you can expect from the film, a 30 minute short that bolsters its endless invention with an equal amount of legitimate wit.

We live in interesting times when you can go to YouTube and just watch a film as assured and accomplished as Kung Fury for free. The idea that people can make these goofy-ass micro-budget films that play off a hyper reimagining of 1980s pop culture is nothing new. Astron-6’s Manborg, for instance, is just one example where people utilize green screens and cheap CG to throw as many possible cool elements onto the screen as possible.

But a lot of these supposedly cool elements end up being white noise. You can think up all the crazy stuff you want - coolness for coolness’ sake comes up empty after a minute or two. These things make wonderful trailers, but the films themselves are often a chore to endure.

Kung Fury doesn’t have this problem. While certainly chock full of ridiculous off-the-wall ideas, the short succeeds because it actually has the brains to make its nonsense work as comedy rather than assuming that something like, say, the random appearance of a gigantic, aged Thor is funny enough just by itself. Yeah, Thor does show up out of the blue. That is sort of cool. But he also displays an insecure pride in his muscles, which is an actual joke.

This extra attention defines Kung Fury. It rarely adds a silly element without also including a clever joke as justification. A brief Nintendo Power Glove sight gag is about as lazy as it gets. Some of what you see here does come a bit too close to Danger 5’s material (there’s a pretty good “shoot someone through the phone” gag, for instance), but the obvious talent on display erases any ideas of unoriginality or shenanigans.

At only thirty minutes long, Kung Fury flies by without ever slowing down for narrative or losing its focus on crazy visuals and jokes. You should definitely carve out the little time it takes to see it, especially since it’s available for free on YouTube, something I still have trouble believing.