I write a whole lot of reviews on various things, mostly video games and the like, and if you need evidence of that feel free to check out the rest of Popzara. This is because I’ve deluded myself into believing anybody cares – as delusions go, it’s fairly harmless, and at least it’s minor enough that I’ve never considered myself a “critic.” Being a critic would mean I’d need to write about boring things like themes, my own socioeconomic/demographic status or how something made me feel deep inside. Nah, forget that, I’ll just be a guy who reviews stuff.
This means I can look at things with an absolutely non-critical eye because I’m not a critic; things that, if I took myself or the media I cover seriously, I’d be forced to hate. Sunset Overdrive comes to mind. Or take this film, for instance: it’s an action-comedy riff on the cop films of the 1980s. There are a ludicrous number of explosions and questionable CGI effects. There’s also a decent amount of gratuitous violence. No messages are imparted whatsoever and I can come out of viewing this film saying, with confidence, that I have learned nothing from the experience. Thank god for David Sandberg’s Kung Fury.
There’s an absolutely ridiculous backstory involving Shaolin monks and a magic cobra…or something like that. Cutting to the chase, though: Kung Fury stars the titular martial artist cop, a take-no-prisoners badass who devotes his life to keeping the streets safe. Kung Fury ends up battling crime throughout several time periods with help from his erstwhile allies Hackerman, Triceracop (exactly what he sounds like) and Barbarianna. Naturally, “crime” in its ultimate form is Hitler, so you can expect the Nazis to take a beating before too long.
A lot has been written about how Kung Fury is trying too hard. That’s not entirely wrong. It’s also not entirely a bad thing. If you’ve been immersed in geek culture for most of your life – and as much as I hate to admit it, that includes me – then sure, you’ve probably seen a lot of this shtick before. Hoho, the villain is Hitler! Guffaw, those are dinosaurs that shoot lasers! Boy, the 80s sure were a wild and crazy decade, am I right?
However, the sincerity with which Kung Fury treats its content sets it apart from the usual saturation of lol-so-random tripe. A lot of geek culture, such as it were, is a thinly-veiled marketing maneuver, especially when it comes to the form of nostalgia this film is aiming to inspire. Kung Fury, though, is a film made from love and it shows.
A good comparison can be made to 2002’s Kung Pow! Enter the Fist or to 2009’s absolutely hilarious Black Dynamite. Much like Kung Fury, these are films that could have degenerated into a reeking mass of ill-timed references and just-niche-enough-to-be-safe humor. The animated sitcom Family Guy is a great example of this sort of cynical design, and if you think about it for more than the second there isn’t really much that’s funny for more than a second or two on that show – each joke lasts for about as long as it takes to go “oh, haha, I remember that!” And then it’s over.
That’s not what happens in those films and it’s not what happens here. Instead, Sandberg’s offering a movie that he got to do his way, and in one of my less proud moments I think I have to thank Kickstarter for that. Kung Fury doesn’t need to make money; it’s already made $600,000 just by asking nicely, and you can watch the film in HD for free on YouTube for precisely that reason. Did I back it? Nope, I don’t back Kickstarters. Am I glad other people did? Absolutely, because it resulted in a much better film than we might have gotten otherwise – had it been made at all.
So there you have it, folks. Kung Fury is a hilarious short film that actually got me to admit that Kickstarter might not be the scourge of the entertainment industry. Aside from the odd exceptional video game here and there, there’s not a lot that can do that. As mentioned, you can catch Kung Fury on YouTube. It’ll cost you absolutely nothing. Watch it with friends in their late twenties who aren’t traditional geeks for the most enjoyable experience, since they haven’t seen most of this before and will love every bit of it.
You’ve really got nothing to lose with Kung Fury, and as much as I hate to say it, protesting and raising hell too much about something that’s been given to you for free may show the problem might actually lie with you. Thanks, Kickstarter backers. Take it from this non-critic: sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the show.