The titles may sound pretty silly (because they are), but you’ll find a lot of clever satirical moments in independent genre homages like Manborg, Wolfcop, and Turbo Kid. (Track down all three films and thank me later.) Not only does it take a lot of serious effort to create something so consistently silly, but you also need filmmakers who know (and love) the sort of low-budget, super-kitschy, mid-1980s material they’re poking fun at. It’s easy to mock something; it’s a bit more difficult to show some actual affection for the material you’re satirizing.
Which brings us to the wildly goofy but impressively conceived Kung Fury, a 31-minute masterpiece that feels like it fell right out of 1985 and hit just about every awesome b-movie genre on the way down. Brainchild of Swedish writer/director/producer/lead actor David Sandberg, Kung Fury is about a hero who gets struck by lightning and bitten by a cobra at the same time, becomes the world’s best cop, and then goes back in time to kill Hitler. Yup.
It’s also got robots, dinosaurs, homicidal video games, David Hasselhoff (kinda), vikings, street gangs, Thor (the actual god Thor, not the Marvel version), and a British police officer called Triceracop. That’s a lot of madness to pack into 30 minutes, and Sandberg does an excellent job of keeping everything moving along quickly. The last thing you want in a kitchen sink genre parody full of iconic characters and ironic caricatures is for the viewer to get bored — and trust me, there’s nothing boring about Kung Fury.
In addition to the intentionally sketchy but unquestionably impressive special effects, Sandberg gives each of his goofball characters some legitimately funny moments. Not only is Kung Fury overflowing with winks, nods, and outright jabs at the silliest sort of action/horror/fantasy cliches, conventions, and tropes you can imagine, but it’s also just plain funny in its own right. With all the visual wackiness on display, Sandberg wisely opts to go drier with the dialogue — there’s a knock-knock joke that just killed me — and the result is a mixture of very broad and very sly that’s quite simply a whole lot of fun.
It’s hard to say if Mr. Sandberg could stretch this great short film into feature length and still maintain the charm, novelty, and energy — but I’d sure as hell drop a few bucks to find out.
Enjoy! (For a second time, probably!) (Because it’s sort of an internet smash right now!)