Kung Fury - Online Review

'Sandberg uses his slight resources to full effect, turning what could be limiting factors into authentic aesthetic choices and well-realised nods to '80s culture'.

Continuing the recent line of film and television lovingly lampooning everything and anything to do with the 1980s, Kung Fury pleasingly emerges as one of the more accomplished entries into this ever-growing cult subgenre. This is arguably more successful at extrapolating a full story from a trailer than bigger budget ventures such as Machete, whilst offering a higher concentration of humour and over-the-top ideas than last year's stylistically similar feature-length release WolfCop.

Writer, director and lead actor David Sandberg does well to stay true to his original idea - that idea being ludicrous comedy and well-executed parody-cum-tribute - whilst filtering in just enough basic storyline to ensure Kung Fury doesn't end up as half an hour of unfocused, unsatisfying silliness. The plot is for the most part shamelessly simple, a fact which may turn off some, but Sandberg clearly knows that his target audience won't have come to his film for complex narrative developments. What is offered here works far better than if Sandberg had tried to unnecessarily force a convoluted story onto his idea, something which other films of this ilk - including both the aforementioned Machete and WolfCop - have done to varying degrees in the past, usually to their detriment.

Funded through a Kickstarter campaign, Kung Fury arguably makes better use of its relatively small budget (just over $600,000 US) than many other more amply financed productions. Sandberg uses his slight resources to full effect, turning what could be limiting factors into authentic aesthetic choices and well-realised nods to '80s culture. The ageing VHS look of the film is omnipresent but never overdone, and the moments where the director overtly utilises this style for creative or humorous effect work brilliantly.

Sandberg includes pleasing references to a huge range of pop culture, from classic arcade games to retro kids' cartoons, from Miami Vice to Tron. The film rarely lets up over its thirty minutes, but thankfully manages to get away with it for pretty much the entire running time. The more surreal choices by the director keep the film feeling fresh, whilst also fitting in well with Kung Fury's largely throwback feel - almost like a crossover episode of Knight Rider and Twin Peaks.

Deep analysis of Sandberg's work here feels unnecessary, however, and not in keeping with what the writer and director was aiming for in making his film. The reason Kung Fury works so well is that it provides undeniable, unfettered fun. Whether this will transfer as well from short film to feature as it did from trailer to short film - something Sandberg is apparently intent on doing - remains unsure. In many ways, it may be better for Sandberg to leave Kung Fury as the successful half-hour of cinema it is, transferring his efforts onto a fresh project rather than risking overstretching his initial concept and spoiling the ridiculous retro enjoyment Kung Fury has to offer.

Kung Fury is available to watch free of charge on YouTube here.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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