Swedish martial arts short throws a punch

Photo courtesy of Laser Unicorns Lampray

With theatres showing a dramatic increase in superhero films and remakes, it is a welcome relief to find movies of other genres as well as those based on novel concepts. One such movie, which came out earlier this summer, is Kung Fury. This short movie was entirely crowd funded on Kickstarter and can be found (legally) for free online. Kung Fury was written and directed by David Sandberg, the founder and head of Laser Unicorns, a Swedish moviemaking group that started with just Sandberg and eventually grew into this movie.

These humble beginnings drastically influenced the end result. Since manpower and other resources were limited, most of the movie was acted on a green screen, adding in scenery, vehicles and props after filming. Considering Kung Fury was made by people who just decided to create a movie, as opposed to the usual high budget Hollywood productions, the effects and animations were as interesting and suitable as they were intensive.

Of course, enjoyable graphics alone cannot create a good movie; fortunately, Kung Fury also has an intriguing plot. The entire movie was meant to be a tribute to 1980s cop movies. The main character, Kung Fury (Sandberg, the director), is a martial arts master and a police officer whose self-narrated origin story includes the sentence “I was hit by lightning and bitten by a cobra.” From here, the plot only gets stranger. The movie includes scenes typical of the genre such as Kung Fury being berated by the police chief and refusing to work with a partner but also includes scenes never imagined before such as a Thor, Barbarianna (a Viking with an automatic weapon riding a T-Rex), and Kung Fury fighting an unending stream of Nazis in Germany.

In keeping with the stereotypical martial arts movie, it all starts with a prophecy of the coming of a chosen one. Adolf Hitler, acknowledged in movie as “the worst criminal of all time,” dedicated himself to martial arts, determined to become this chosen one.

Through the magic of the plot demanding it be so, Hitler learns about Kung Fury, the chosen one, and travels through time to defeat him, hoping to gain the title for himself. Along the way, the self-named Kung Führer kills one of Kung Fury’s friends on the force. Unfazed by the impossible and determined to seek justice for his friend, Officer Kung Fury must travel time to defeat the ultimate criminal, Kung Führer. To do so, Fury recruits Hackerman, a hacker so amazing that he was able to use technology from the 80s to identify Hitler by tracking a stolen mobile phone Hitler had used to call the police chief even after the call had been violently disconnected a while ago, a feat that even one of the background characters notes to be impossible.

Using top-of-the-line technology including a MicroBee and a Power Glove, the two attempt to hack Kung Fury back in time to defeat Kung Führer in Nazi Germany thus saving the present.

With this bizarre plot, the movie is quite difficult to describe succinctly, but the actors managed to convey this insanity in just over half an hour, quite an impressive feat for still being a comprehensible story.

Each plot point makes sense in context aside from a few minor holes such as how Kung Führer was able to travel through time, let alone know what a cell phone was and how to use it. Nitpicking aside, Kung Fury arguably has more references than the new Marvel movies despite being a fourth as long (an impressive feat to be sure). For example, Fury’s car is the Hoff 9000, a play on Knight Rider and KITT, though most references are of a vaguer nature. It is worth mentioning that this movie should still be enjoyable for those who are not well versed in eighties cop movies, for Kung Fury includes even more self-sufficient humor than it does comedic references.

Subtitled in more than ten languages, Kung Fury has already garnered more than eighteen million views on YouTube alone. In addition to online support, the movie was screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Currently, David Sandberg is raising money to help fund a reworking of this short in order to extend its
ridiculousness and create a full length movie.