I used to complain that Sweden’s output of movies tends to be monotonous and underwhelming. With the arrival of Kung Fury, that time is at an end. Did you like it when Finland gave us moon Nazis in Iron Sky? Well then prepare to experience a Swedish short film that gives you kung-fu fighting Nazis, spliced together with vikings, dinosaurs, old video games and 80’s nostalgia. Oh, and David Hasselhoff.
Created by a team of filmmakers based in Umeå, and financed almost entirely by fan donations via the film’s Kickstarter campaign that went viral in 2013 and got the entire world interested in helping this movie happen, Kung Fury is about as batshit insane as you can get within the span of 30 minutes. Presented as though it has been recorded on an old VHS tape, video distortions and all, it tells of a martial artist/cop known as Kung Fury (writer-director David Sandberg) who works solo after a traumatizing mission where he lost his buddy cop, which ended with him getting struck by lightning and bitten by a random cobra that turned him into the one-man army he is today.
The year is 1985. The film’s plot centers around the arrival of a German time-traveller named Adolf Hitler (Jorma Taccone). You see, in the 1940’s, Adolf was a feared martial arts master known as “the Kung Führer” and the entire point of the Nazi Party was to experiment on both man and machine to create the ultimate kung-fu figher, but Hitler’s attempts proved fruitless so he has travelled into the future to find and defeat his true nemesis, which he believes to be Kung Fury. And people call Schindler’s List the greatest film about Nazi Germany. Psh.
With the help of a hacker called Hackerman, who can of course hack into time itself, Kung Fury nevertheless takes it upon himself to go back in time to destroy Hitler before he can reach the present. Using a Nintendo Power Glove and what looks like an old Amiga keyboard, he enters the time stream but is accidentally sent to the wrong time period, causing him to have run-ins with such characters as gun-toting vikings who ride dinosaurs, some of which have the capacity to shoot laser beams out of their eyes. Yes, this movie is real.
The film also features two Swedish comedians, Magnus Betnér and Björn Gustafsson, as two Nazi officers who speak to each other in a hysterical mix between German and Swedish (not that any English-speaking viewers could ever tell), as well as the aforementioned David Hasselhoff in a scene that manages to parody Knight Rider and 2001: A Space Odyssey simultaneously. There’s also Tricera-cop, who is exactly what you think he is, and even the Norse god Thor himself. What a treat.
The fact that this, not unlike Iron Sky, was funded almost entirely by interested fans is certainly a charm. We have all anticipated it eagerly since it was initially made aware to us online and many even volunteered to work on it with the filmmakers. After taking the Cannes festival by storm, the finished movie aired in Sweden on SVT2 on May 28th and it can currently be watched on YouTube in its mind-meltingly over-the-top glory. The best way to describe it might be “Team America with Nazis and a dash of Kung Pow and Snow Crash“.
But it isn’t just the fact that it’s so over-the-top that it makes Mad Max: Fury Road look like a French black-and-white drama that makes it memorable. It’s also the fact that it’s basically a giant love letter to the 80’s. The aforementioned VHS look, all the props that consist of 80’s tech, the mix of synthesized music and cheesy 80’s rock (plus this awesome tune written specifically for the movie by Hasselhoff himself), the crappy-looking Miami in which the film is partially set, the corny one-liners that would make Schwarzenegger shake his head; just about everything’s right there. Also, the Drew Struzan-inspired poster (seen at the top of this post) makes it all the more amazing that this is a thing that got to happen.
Sometimes the VHS distortions are even used to hide a few of the more lackluster greenscreen effects, even when 96% of the film in question is composed of deliberately cheesy visual effects and greenscreen shots that were filmed entirely in David Sandberg’s office. Really, the more I hear about the production itself, the happier I get that this film exists.
I don’t know what else to say about this movie without spoiling all too much. It is just an absolute smile-fest. Though I suppose I could say that, since this was only a 30 minute short film, I hope these guys get to make the feature-length version of this that they were originally hoping for. A few more hours of kung-fu Nazis, laser dinosaurs, guys surfing on flying cars while firing guns at living arcade machines, and people shooting other people through telephones can never be too much. I’m guessing.
Here it is in all its glory. Do enjoy and don’t forget to make haste to Kickstarter when these folks hopefully announce that a full movie is being made!