Furious (1984)

Reality is the enemy. We escape into movies and books and comics and our homicidal fantasies because the world we live in isn’t as satisfying as it should be. Occasionally, one of these fictional destinations proves to be so uniquely exciting that we never want to leave.

Furious is one of those places; an unexplored dimension populated by cackling sorcerers, whispering statues, fat adolescent warriors and lots and lots of live chickens. Furious is power. It’s magic. It’s a kaleidoscopic siege on the concept of storytelling. And Furious is “RED HOT KARATE ACTION! Filmed entirely on location in Southern California!”

That comes straight from the VHS cover, which is loaded with exclamation points and more promises of blackbelt-caliber excitement. But they left off the warning that anyone who views this film will be transformed. Furious alters the viewer the same way a dying VCR mangles a spooling tape. Images warp, vision blurs, voices slow to a gurgle and nothing can ever be repaired.

So now you’ve been warned. If you’re still courageous enough to watch, you may jump ship during the twelve (TWELVE!!!) coming attractions trailers before the feature starts. But those who persevere will be retarded rewarded beyond their wildest imaginations.

A somber, Bergman-esque introduction thrusts us into what appears to be a medieval age of barbaric warfare. Mongols (spastic white dads in fur hats) rabidly chase a mystical woman (former Miss Philippines winner Arlene Montano) through mountainous terrain. Her trusty enchanted tusk points her away from danger, but the pursuers close in. She reaches her destination, a remote cave housing a plastic skull and a cigar box. Suddenly: AMBUSH! She kills one attacker by throwing two ninja stars into his butt, but she’s tragically overpowered and destroyed.

Centuries later, miles away, or neither…Her brother Simon (future Hollywood stunt pro Simon Rhee) tends to his karate school for chubby children. He’s interrupted by the ugliest of the murderous mongols, who kicks a dog and then issues a challenge.

This invitation leads our hero to a high tech secret facility, where grinning men break boards with their feet under the watchful eye of gray-haired 24-year-old Chan, played by Simon’s younger brother Phillip Rhee. Our fearless protagonist breezes past the robotic doormen and deadly combatants, but is startled by the appearance of a chicken in the hallway. He speaks with the casually levitating Chan, who is revealed to be his friend and former master, and the two embark on a mission to avenge Simon’s sister.

So the adventure begins. Possibly. It’s hard to say. Actually, Furious isn’t sure it wants to go on that adventure anymore. Now it’s pretty sure it wants to do something else. Yeah, Furious wants to have a psychopathic chef with a butcher knife murder a bunch of gawky dudes in Hawaiian shirts. After that, it wants to go to a restaurant where a muscular blonde man performs sword aerobics for an infant while masked waiters do some tableside magic. The customers seem to be enjoying their food… even though it’s INVISIBLE!!

It doesn’t stop. Dogs are dubbed with human voices. Android sentries bust into new wave jam sessions. Mongols travel via molecular transport closets. A dickish warlock is transformed into a talking pig, but only at the moment of his death.

And then there’s the goddamn chickens.

The aforementioned chicken-in-a-hallway is just the tip of the chickenberg. Chickens invade Furious at every opportunity: on lawns, during fight scenes, in crowded businesses… everywhere. Chickens are escorted out of an office by robots. Non-victorious combatants are punished by being turned into chickens. And then the warlock shoots a chicken out of his fingertip.

Furious has no right to exist. But it does. There’s no fathoming its creation. It’s a movie with 10,000 ideas but zero story; impossible ambition coupled with the desire to alienate anyone watching. Filming a feature on 35mm is expensive, and so is interdimensional travel, or a giant, fire-breathing dragon with entire human skeletons between its teeth. But Furious laughs off these challenges. Money is no object when reality is no option. The only remaining explanation is that it sprang fully formed from some spiritual and intellectual void, a starving chasm of chaotic darkness that feeds off the shock and confusion of human viewers. So feed it.


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