Originally posted on 20 June, 2015
If you haven’t seen or heard of the recent internet sensation that is Kung Fury, then I urge you to get on Youtube right this instant and check it out. But really, do yourself a favour and go watch it now. Even if you’ve already seen it, you can only make your day better by watching it again. Released on May 28th Kung Fury is a wacky 80s inspired comedy short made by Swedish director David Sandberg. Garnering over 16 million views since its release, this crazy love letter to everything tacky and 80s has blown up on the internet in a huge way. Originally released online as a spoof trailer featuring the short’s creator, it rapidly became a crowdfunding phenomenon, raising $640,000 on Kickstarter in order to make an extended version of it, and even managing to recruit David Hasselhoff as a supporter and collaborator on the film. Getting its debut in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, the creators decided soon after to release their crazy nod to nostalgia on Youtube, allowing the world to marvel at this thirty minute masterpiece for free.
Taking place in 1985, the film revolves around Miami-based police detective Kung Fury who is struck by lightning and bitten by a cobra whilst trying to defend his partner in a street fight. Instead of dying, this series of events gives Kung Fury incredible kung fu powers, powers that are called upon in order to defeat the infamous martial-arts master Adolf Hitler (yes, that same one) who has managed to travel forwards in time and is wreaking havoc throughout the city. In order to defeat Hitler, a.k.a. “Kung Führer”, Kung Fury must travel back in time and, with the help of his misfit band of jaw-droppingly awesome sidekicks, stop Hitler’s evil plans before they destroy the world.
Giving a bare-bones synopsis of Kung Fury really doesn’t do the film justice, as it is the amazing craftsmanship and animation that really need to be seen to be fully appreciated and in order to understand just what a labour of love this project really is. More than just a gimmick, Kung Fury is an example of self-acknowledged, B-movie cheesiness, which wholeheartedly embraces its “so-bad-it’s-amazing” label. With characters including a Triceratops police detective, an abs-for-days Thor, and a Viking babe called Barbarianna, Kung Fury is not only nostalgia porn, but also a tender and loving homage to 80s action brilliance with static VHS breaks and an appearance by David Hasselhoff to boot.
This nod to the 1980s seems to be a recurring and popular source of inspiration for movie-makers and directors of late, seen not only with the release of Steven Kostanski’s Manborg back in 2011, a low-budget, garishly animated sci-fi short, but also with the excitement surrounding the release of Turbo Kid later this year which looks like an insane cross between The Goonies, Mad Max, and a Fallout film. Whether it’s the inclusion of a Nintendo Power Glove, or cheesy neon special effects, or even a satisfyingly cringe-worthy catchphrase, the 80s in all its magnificent over-the-top glory seems to be alive and kicking in the public’s consciousness. Indeed, this craving for more 80s madness is further seen with the release of the Poltergeist remake last month, and the announcements that Wargames (1983), Police Academy (1984), and Overboard (1987), amongst others, are all under discussion to be remade in the next few years.
You have to wonder if this 80s fad is simply a desperate attempt to claw back memories of a by-gone era, or whether it’s the post-millennial generation’s desire to live vicariously through neon leg-warmers and bad hair, but whatever the case may be, the 1980s are as hot as vintage Kelly Lebrock in a unitard right now, and it doesn’t look like the obsession with this decade will be going anywhere anytime soon.
[Kung Fury is now available to watch on Netflix]
(Photos copyright: Lampray, Laser Unicorns, EMA Films, Timpson Films)