Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Kung Fury (2015)

There’s a scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off where the principal, Ed Rooney, is out looking for Bueller.  In the scene, Rooney is talking to a man watching a baseball game.  Rooney asks the score, to which the man replies that both teams have yet to score.  When Rooney asks who’s winning, the man tells him The Bears.  Those that have no interest in sports might miss that The Bears are a football team.  However, you can still get part of the joke, as the score is tied.  That’s kind of how it is with Kung Fury.

The short film satirizes 80’s technology and culture.  The video quality is similar to that of VHS, with the rolling distortions and intermittent static.  Phones are the bulky, poorly designed monstrosities that you’d expect of 1985.  Dialogue is also the poorly designed monstrosity that you’d expect of 1985.  Those of us that grew up in the 1970s and 1980s will get a lot of the references.  Those that were born later probably won’t.  This isn’t to say that the movie is without humor.  My concern would be that many of the references will go over the heads of some audience members.   

The story is about a man, called only Kung Fury, who is a police officer in Miami in 1985.  He’s called in to defeat an arcade game that’s come to life and is killing people.  He saves the day, but of course, the police chief is having none of it.  An entire city block was destroyed and it’s all Kung Fury’s fault.  The chief is assigning Kung Fury a new partner, Triceracop, but Kung Fury would rather quit than take on a new partner.  (We learn that he lost his old one around the time that he picked up his kung fu powers.)

Before Kung Fury can leave the station, it’s shot up by none other than Adolf Hitler, the worst criminal of all time.  The amazing part is that Hitler is shooting up the station over one of those bulky 80s cell phones.  King Fury is able to shoot back and stop Hitler.  He now realizes that his only choice is to go back in time to stop Hitler.  He’s helped by Hackerman, who is able to hack time.  Kung Fury goes back too far and finds himself in the Viking Era, where women had big weapons and rode even bigger animals.

Fortunately, Thor is able to send him to the right time and place, where Kung Fury is able to dispatch with several dozen Nazi troops.  Hitler shoots Kung Fury, leaving it to Thor, Hackerman, Triceracops and a few others to seemingly save the day.  Hackerman is even able to hack away the bullets and save Kung Fury’s life.  The day is saved and everyone returns to their own time.

The entire plot reeks of 80’s references.  Aside from the VHS filter on the movie, the colors are as dull as you might expect.  The dialogue is similarly dull.  Every 80’s buddy-cop movie had the angry lieutenant/captain.  There was always that one scene where the main cop got chewed out.  The Nazi battle scene is even similar to the side-scrolling games of the era.  The script seems to play on a lot of the tropes of the era.

If you’re old enough, you may have heard of the bulky phones, which are featured twice in the movie.  The arcade game coming to life is probably going to look silly, regardless.  I’m not really sure what this is referencing in particular.  I think it’s meant to be silly, but I could be mistaken.

I will say that the nostalgia factor is dialed in almost perfectly.  There are a few cases where the CGI is barely visible, but it’s easy enough to push that to the side.  The jokes aren’t repeated to the point where they become old.  IMDb lists an upcoming sequel, Kung Fury II:  The Movie.  I’m not sure what that’s going to look like.  If it’s a feature film, they’re going to have to find more humor or else risk repeating themselves.  Then again, isn’t that what history is known for?

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