Kung Fury Tries Too Hard

Kung Fury Tries Too Hard

Remember Kung Fury? The comedy action trailer about a renegade cop hacking his way back in time to kill kung-fu Hitler? Well, the full movie's out now, and it's solid — but I don't love it.

Don't get me wrong: Kung Fury is exactly what was advertised (and then crowdfunded to the retro '80s future and back). It's over-the-top martial arts action paired with ridiculous scenarios (there is a cop who is part triceratops and his name is Triceracop) and dumb jokes (there is a cop who is part triceratops and his name is Triceracop). Basically, it's the infamous trailer multiplied by ten. Ten times the length, ten times the action, ten times the gags, ten times the "har-har, the '80s sure were ridiculous" references, and ten thousand times the number of dudes getting shot and/or punched in the nuts.

You can watch it here:

It is everything it set out to be. It just didn't do it for me.

I have some thoughts about why this might be. For one, Kung Fury feels like it tries so hard. Distractingly hard. It is the movie that would hear me say that and make a joke about the word "hard." You would expect it to be a dick joke, and — reliably, faithfully, like an old hound who will fucking fight you before learning any of your crummy new tricks — that is exactly what it would do. It does this in excess. It does it so much that it stops being funny, then becomes funny again, then stops being funny again. That's how Kung Fury's brand of ridiculousness works. "I AM RIDICULOUS," it shouts. "LOOK AT MY NEON COLOURS AND GIANT PHONE AND LASER RAPTORS. I HAVE IT ALL AND I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO FORGET FOR EVEN A FRACTION OF A SECOND HEY REMEMBER THE EIGHTIES OK COOL JUST CHECKING."

I like over-the-top humour! My brain thrives on absurdity. But in Kung Fury it all feels so... targeted, made to be chopped up and passed around as a series of memes. I felt like I was watching the movie tick off a series of checkboxes, complete a scavenger hunt to be declared The Most Ridiculous Evar by 2014 Internet standards. '80s buddy cop jokes? Check. A silly hacking sequence with a Power Glove? Check. Dinosaurs? Check. A ninja? Check. Hitler? Check. Giant phones, skateboarding, more hacking jokes? Check, check, check. And so on. That's not to say the movie didn't make me laugh. It often made those things so ridiculous that I couldn't not laugh, but it sometimes struck me as mechanical, perhaps even a bit cynical.

The other problem — at least, for me personally — is that I think I'm getting tired of "those zany, wacky '80s" being a punchline. I get it. I do. The '80s were kinda dumb. So were the '90s. So is every decade. Everything is stupid all the time, basically, and making fun of that is great! I just feel like harping on the '80s, specifically, is getting kinda played out. This is especially true when people are lazy about it, when the reference is the whole joke. Kung Fury, to its credit, usually backed its references with solid gags, but on the occasions it didn't, I cringed a little.

I'm just gonna come out and say it: I think I liked the original trailer more. As a rapid-fire series of absurd vignettes, Kung Fury was silly, surprising, and perfectly paced. As a lengthier short film, Kung Fury is somehow less. I think that's because, while Kung Fury is a series of gags, it's really only one Joke. Its punchlines all end up in the same basic region. Brevity is the soul of wit blah blah blah whatever, but that kinda applies here. By the time Kung Fury: The Short Film ended, I felt like I'd more than gotten my fill.

I don't mean to be a total killjoy about this. There were definitely parts I liked, parts that felt inspired and original. The movie has a great sense of when to slow down, when to build to a really great fight or gag (see: two nazis talking about their moustaches, the whole middle bit with machine-gun-toting viking ladies). I mean, look at this bit. With or without context, this is wonderful:

Kung Fury Tries Too Hard

Despite my seemingly negative write-up, I recommend that you watch Kung Fury! For one, it's totally free, but on top of that it's well put-together and entertaining. Clearly, a lot of skill and hard work went into making this, and it is by most metrics quite good. It just left me feeling weirdly cold, and I think that says something — maybe about the movie, maybe about me, maybe about modern humour, maybe about all of the above. Regardless, I just felt like it needed to be said.


    Cool story bro. Tell it again.

    I have a thing for these cheesy action movies of the 70's-90's (And recreations/ homages like Blooddragon/ Black Dynamite).

    I've been watching a lot of them lately including the awful Samurai-Cop (So bad it's bad. I found it less entertaining than the Room if you can believe it hahaha) and the spectacular Escape from New York and L.A (One of the many things that inspired MGS. The main characters name is Snake (Played by Kurt Russell) and he has an eye patch and mullet. GOLDEN. Edit: Oh and it was written in the 70's, released in 1981 and is set in a dystopian 1988... the 'future'.)

    Anyway. I liked Kung Fury, but I must admit was a little disappointed at first that it kinda becomes more of a 'spoof' than a homage.

    Last edited 29/05/15 7:15 pm

    I agree 100%. I remember showing people the trailer for this because I thought it was so hilarious, but half an hour of it proved to be too much. By the ten minute mark I had my laptop open (I was watching it on the TV) and by the end I was only glancing up at the movie every now and then.

    As I said on the Gizmodo story on this, Danger 5 does it better.

    There were moments that I felt weren't 80's, like where Thor took time to show off his muscles, or when the heavenly cobra thing felt awkward when he had to repeat himself. All of that felt like our era of ironic self-awareness lolz, breaking the almost perfect "We take our roles seriously, even though everyone watching us is giggling".

    THIS was awesome though:

    Also the Hasselhoff theme song was awesome

      Yeah the whole "epic pecs" thing was not 80s in the slightest.

    It is exactly what it advertised so therefore I dislike it.

      I'm just going to copy what I wrote below, sorry just really more of the same from me ;)

      He did enjoy it. Just not as much as he thought he would.

      "it’s well put-together and entertaining"

      If you didn't want to hear criticisms about it then why did you click the article that states that it tries too hard and not the one praising it further down the page?

    If you can't switch your brain off and enjoy it for the outrageously stupid thing it is... Then you are just too stuck up your own ass.

      You worded this much better than I was about to.

      He did enjoy it. Just not as much as he thought he would.

      "it’s well put-together and entertaining"

      If you didn't want to hear criticisms about it then why did you click the article that states that it tries too hard and not the one praising it further down the page?

        To tell him that his opinions are bad and he should feel bad obviously.

    I loved every single bit of it. I love the 80's throwback stuff - my whole taste in music has been 80's throwback my whole life. I thought Kung Fury was really, really neat. There'll be those that don't like the 80's thing, and that's cool, but yeah for me it was totally my bag. When the CGI wasn't trying to be really shitty, it was actually really impressive. Loved it - I'm gonna it many times over, I just know it.

    don't mess with Triceracops, he will shoot you in the junk.

    I enjoyed it for what it was, but could have been better. It really did make me feel like I was watching a crappy VHS tape, and I rank that as the sound of a dial up modem. They are both things that I kind of miss, but would never want to go back and have to live through again.

    Funny thing is, the 80's (or from what I remember) wasn't much like this at all haha, although the movie did wake up something inside of me, transporting me back to the 80's, where I just went to my local video store and hired a crappy Betamax someone had taped over which still had 30 mins of the original movie on it. If this was made in the actual 80's, it would have probably looked similar but have a lot more puppetry and would have probably been done by one of the now famous directors and cost the same.

    Let us not forget this was made over a 2 year period and most of it was shot on green screen in an office somewhere. I love how there are so many references the arcade scene from back then as well as a lot of intentionally well placed movie goofs which back then would have been real errors. Sure, Danger 5 has a long running thing now and it is great, but I think this movie and how it came to be and what it represents has something slightly more special.

    It was an awesome 30 mins I am glad I watched it, and I have a feeling there is a lot of footage left over for some reason to make a 2nd one? haha.

    It fell flat.

    Somethings are definitely better in small doses and this did absolutely not work in a feature length, it was cold and plastic and heartless and stale, with incredibly uneven tone and pacing issues and a story that jumped around everywhere. It collapsed under it's own weight of expectation from people who don't know or remember enough about 80s life to know any better that suck up its arse for being super duper awesome.

    The trailer, and the song and video clip, are fucking brilliant however.

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