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Kung-Foley
"...every single punch in this scene sounds like one of the Foley guys is whaling on a naugahyde sofa with an aluminum baseball bat."

It sounds like they're hitting each other with bags full of groceries!
Mary Jo Pehl, Cinematic Titanic: "East Meets Watts"

So you've dedicated years of your life to mastering some obscure martial art with the intention of avenging your family's murder at the hands of an evil man named Betty. Only you'll never sneak up on him because your slightest movement causes horribly loud swooshes and cracks.

Maybe you should have studied something other than Kung Foley.

Kung-Foley is the hyper-exaggerated sound effects that go along with almost any really serious actions. From high risk martial arts to zipping your fly, it's all fair game. It's moved from Kung Fu trope to cliché to high Camp to Satire to acceptance as a mainstream trope. This is odd as it represents a backwards evolutionary trajectory. According to MythBusters, a normal punch is almost silent and a Hollywood punch is created by a combination of sounds like breaking walnuts.

Martial Arts equivalent of Noisy Guns.

This trope is even more common in animation (especially Western Animation), wherein the concept holds that every action must have an accompanying sound effect, even actions that normally don't or that have a minimal sound. In this regard, Kung-Foley becomes a supertrope of:

See also Mickey Mousing. A subtrope of the Rule of Perception.

Named for a comment from the MST3K version of Warrior of the Lost World. Foley artists being the people responsible for making sound effects to be put in after shooting, because flapping an umbrella and crinkling cellophane sounds more like a fire than a real fire does.

A foley is a sound effect recorded with a microphone, usually in a studio, and often involves using props to make sounds, hence the whooshes and cracks.

Examples

  • Hong Kong kung fu movies were pretty notorious for this, especially in the early days.
  • Parodied in the ad for the Samsung Epic 4G called "Epic Sound Effects".
  • A foreground element of Kung Pow!: Enter The Fist.
  • Parodied in "Weird Al" Yankovic's video Fat (itself a parody of Michael Jackson's video Bad). Al suddenly realizes he is causing sound effects with every slightest move, first regular swishes and cracks, then ratcheting and glass breaking.
    • And further parodied when after one hand movement causes a loud snapping noise, he pulls it back to show the mousetrap that's closed on it.
  • Used straight in the opening sequence of Hot Fuzz. Other sequences go less on it, but the camera makes an audible whoosh as it whip-pans. And it whip-pans a lot.
    • Pay close attention, because the foley guys were actually quite clever; there's times when they threw in sounds that work so perfectly that even though they're glaringly out of place, you don't even notice they're there (like when the doctor gets shot in the foot; as he goes down, you can hear the sound of a tree falling). Yeah, I know it's a contradiction. Work with me here.
      • Or when the Chef Inspector roars when the chandelier in the pub falls, he has a lion's roar!
    • Perhaps the most obvious is when Timothy Dalton looks right at the camera, with a cash register sound added in just to draw attention to it.
  • While not martial arts the foley sounds of Eye Pokes and Dope Slaps in The Three Stooges is masterful foley work.
    • Arguably, the foley is the only reason why the Three Stooges shorts work. Otherwise it's just a bunch of guys hitting each other—at least with the sounds it becomes exaggerated and comical. It also made it so they wouldn't have to actually hit each other very hard.
  • Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi has a suit that produces Kung Foley in one episode.
  • There were many sound effects in Parker Lewis Can't Lose, including a Dramatic Gun Cock as Kubiac readies his fist, or a clickety-clack sound as Ms. Musso slowly raises her arm...
    • "Synchronize Swatches!" [WOOSH]
  • Scrubs is chock-full of these, particularly the head-whip bullwhip sound which dominates Season 1.
  • In the film Batman & Robin, The Brute Bane tosses a group of Redshirt thugs through the air, complete with a slide-whistle sound effect.
    Mike Nelson: Sound effects courtesy of Tom and Jerry.
    • For that matter, the Adam West series was even more ridiculous. Mickey Mousing was used heavily, while the (in)famous written sound effects(Pow! Biff! Wham!) popped up on the screen.
  • El Chavo del ocho and Chespirito has pretty original elements; among them, everytime a character punches another character you can hear a boxing bell.
  • It's impressive to watch the foley for A Prairie Home Companion in action; he's able to simulate, among other things, a helicopter hovering over a house being torn apart by an earthquake while pterodactyls close in.
  • Justice League Unlimited uses this to add to the brutal effectiveness of its amped-up fight scenes.
  • Power Rangers/Super Sentai, Kamen Rider, and most other tokusatsus are guilty of this. Back then they would save the sound effects for when someone puches someone else, making the fights a bit closer to reality. Lately though there have been more whooshes in the fights, so not really anymore.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess both made heavy use of this trope, with nearly every punch, throw, and glance accentuated with sound effects. no surprise since executive producer Sam Raimi is generally fond of this trope, which also shows up in his Evil Dead movies.
  • In the Whateley Universe, martial arts whiz Chaka makes that 'crack' noise when she punches at high speed. Even when she's wearing a sleeveless blouse. Justified since it's implied she's actually breaking the sound barrier.
  • Done to a rather ridiculous extent with Tenpouin Keiya of Evil Zone, whose barehanded strikes make whipping-like sounds regardless of whether or not they actually connect with the opponent.
  • Parodied in the first Police Academy, where Larvell Jones puts his beatboxing skills to use and imitates a Kung-Fu movie, complete with the wooshes, cracks and out-of-sync dubbing. This trope is played straight everywhere else in the movie series, though.
  • The trumpet blare every time Fred is startled/enraged/otherwise emotive in The Flintstones.
  • The movie U.S. Seals II had this cranked up to eleven - every movement of a hand, head or finger is accompanied by a whoosh sound, as if the foley artist was paid per foley.
  • Foley is parodied in the Goodies episode Kung Fu Kapers, when Tim and Bill are fighting — Tim tries to hit Bill, finds it produces a honking noise, then just touches him for a while to explore the sounds that ensue, which include alarm clocks and party horns. Bill laughs and plays a few notes on himself by tapping his head and knees. Tim pushes Bill's stomach and produces a loud honk. They both laugh...and then Tim clobbers Bill over the head accompanied by a huge, rock-smashing sound effect.
  • In classic Deadlands rules, there's an In-Universe example: martial artists can take the disadvantage "The Cup Overflows". It means that all their combat moves result in hammy sound effects and possibly even Final Fantasy-esque battle auras and flashes of light. Not only it makes stealth harder, it also makes hostile martial artists think your character is more dangerous than they are and target you with their strongest techniques; non-martial artists simply think you are a sorcerer.
  • Averted in Fight Club where the fights have disturbingly real sound effects.
    • Invoked in one of the film's commentary tracks; Brad Pitt reminisces about filming a scene where his character slaps a Project Mayhem recruit's newly-shaven head, and director David Fincher, who was insistent on using the actual sound of the slap instead of SFX, repeatedly directing him to "Hit him harder! No, harder!"
  • The live action films Guyver and Guyver: Dark Hero are full of bizarre sound effects. The first one decides that the Zoanoids should sound like elephants and/or lions while the second one decides that every movement of the titular Guyver must sound like scraping metal.
  • In the episode The Secret Box from Sponge Bob Square Pants, there is a scene where SpongeBob doesn't want to wake Patrick. Stepping on a chip causes a loud glass-shattering sound. Drops of sweat make a splashing sound when they touch the ground. Elephant roaring and car crashing sounds are heard when SpongeBob is walking.
  • Supernatural often has loud punches and crashes accenting the fight scenes.
  • Wayne's World 2 takes this to whole new limits when Wayne and Jeff are fighting: Every single motion is Kung-Foley'd, even when Wayne operates his telephone in mid-fight.

Other (In light of the trope's ubiquity in animation, it's probably better to list common methods of implementation rather than show-specific examples)
  • That slight swooshing sound when someone's eyes dart back and forth.
    • And that little "plink plink" that denotes blinking. See Squeaky Eyes.
  • Anything that holds immense power will usually hum or ring. See Whining Light.
  • The "sling!" of sunlight glinting off a metallic surface (especially a sharp edge). See Audible Sharpness.
    • The metal-on-metal sound of a sword being unsheathed. Swords do not make that sound. If they do, you've got a horrible sheathe (they should have softer interiors specifically to prevent metal-on-metal). If you hear that metal-on-metal sound when you draw your sword, it's bad because it means you're dulling your sword.
  • A cracking bullwhip whenever a character snaps his/her head around or makes some other sudden jerky motion.
  • The rolling bongos that go along with a Wheel o' Feet.
  • The slide whistle, a universal indicator that something is falling (up or down).
    • If it's something big, substitute the sound of a dive-bombing Stuka airplane.
  • A cymbal crash or orchestra hit whenever someone gets struck hard with something.
    • Particularly heavy hits may require a gong (see also The Hit Flash).
  • Old people will creak and squeak with every movement, like an unoiled hinge or a loose floorboard.
  • Lit fuses will always emit a menacing hissssssss.
  • The inevitable 'ting!' sound of light glinting off the hero's (or cheesy villain's) gleaming, white teeth. This particular example is used with humorous intent in the occasional sugar-free gum or dental product commercial.
  • The 'frooff' noise of an object passing by the camera.
  • People being knocked over to the sound of bowling pins.
  • Someone sneaking around will be accompanied by strings: pizzicato for tip-toeing, slides for strides (think The Pink Panther theme). See Mickey Mousing.
  • Anything with a ponderous pace (elephant, bear, fat dude, Jabba the Hutt) will be accompanied by tuba.
  • The little 'fwip' sound of a ninja or similar character jumping improbably high or simply vanishing without a trace.
  • The high-pitched sound of a coiled spring ("boing-boing") whenever someone is jumping or an object is bouncing. If the person/object is large enough, substitute a kettle drum.
  • The "poof" sound that accompanies anybody (from spies to ninjas) throwing a smoke bomb to escape.

Knuckle CrackingSound FX TropesLaugh Track
Ki ManipulationThis Index Knows Kung-FuKung-Fu Clairvoyance
Hologram Projection ImperfectionRule of PerceptionLaser Hallway

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