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

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 action sequence. 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.

Martial Arts equivalent of Noisy Guns, Bang, Bang, BANG or Audible Sharpness. Subtrope of The Coconut Effect. Named for a comment from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of Warrior of the Lost World. The "foley" portion referring to Foley artists, the people responsible for making sound effects synced to the events on screen.

This Trope is specifically about the hyper-exaggerated applications of foley in action sequences.note  For more applications of this art, and examples of non-action uses, see The Coconut Effect, the supertrope to Kung-Foley.


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  • Parodied in the ad for the Samsung Epic 4G called "Epic Sound Effects".
  • Parodied in commercials for the restaurant Steak & Shake. A hammy martial arts master is demonstrating the available $4 meals to his pupil, but every time he gestures to a burger and fries, a whip-crack is heard.
    Pupil: What's that sound, Master?
    Master: Kung fu elbow. [demonstrates; more whip-cracks are heard as he swings his arm back and forth] Try it.
    [The student swings his arm, but only produces the squeaky sound of rusty hinges.]

  • Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi has a suit that produces Kung Foley in one episode.

  • In the film Batman & Robin, The Brute Bane tosses a group of Redshirt thugs through the air, complete with a slide-whistle sound effect.
  • All of Bruce Lee's martial arts films use this to an extent by nature of being...well, 70s martial arts films, but The Big Boss takes it further than any of the others, with every punch and kick sounding like a gunshot and every jump sounding like a plane taking off.
  • 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.
  • Done In-Universe in Hercules Returns, as the protagonists are forced to Gag Dub an Italian sword-and-sandal movie that doesn't have an English soundtrack. An on-screen fight is intercut with the people in the projection room slapping each other and smashing things to provide the required sounds, and eventually fires are being lit backstage or the projectionist is smashing his head into the wall. Later the villainous movie mogul who arranged for them to get the undubbed movie storms up to the projection booth to put a stop to things, with the subsequent You Fight Like a Cow dialogue matching what's happening on screen.
  • Played for Laughs in Hot Fuzz, where even the act of writing a report was turned into an action sequence using this technique.
  • The distinctive and immediately recognizable "Mm-PSH!" swing-and-punch sound effect from the Indiana Jones series was achieved by hitting a stack of leather coats with a baseball bat.
  • Out of the Past: The fist fight between Jeff and his blackmailing partner Fisher continues for some time, with each hit in the face emphasized by a loud "sock" each of which would probably have rendered the recipient unconscious, and/or broken the hand of the hitter.
  • A foreground element of Kung Pow! Enter the Fist.
  • 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.
  • While not "martial arts" the foley sounds of Eye Pokes and Dope Slaps in The Three Stooges are masterful foley work, making the actions even more exaggerated and comical. It also made it possible for the Stooges to not actually hit each other that hard, as the sound effects carried the bulk of the implied violence.
  • The movie U.S. Seals II — every movement of a hand, head or finger is accompanied by a whoosh sound, as if the foley artist was paid per foley.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Batman (1966): 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's other works, for that matter) has pretty original elements; among them, every time a character punches (or otherwise hits) another character you can hear a boxing bell. Bonus points for having it done live.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Supernatural often has loud punches and crashes accenting the fight scenes.
  • Played with in Netflix/Marvel's Daredevil. The usual foley is there, but the staging of the scene often draws attention to it — because the title character is blind and relies on his much, much better than average hearing to compensate.
  • Lampshaded with in-universe foley effects in Agent Carter. Peggy Carter beats up a crook while the Captain America radio show is playing, and her punches are intercut with shots of the radio show's foley artists making sound effects by hitting slabs of meat and crushing lobsters.

  • 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 that ends out of the shot causes a loud snapping noise, he pulls it back to show the mousetrap that's closed on it.

  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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 does 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • In City of Heroes, the first iteration of the Staff Fighting powerset was criticized for having sound effects that were too weak. In response, the sound artist "punched up" the the effects a bit, to the point that it sounded like you were channeling Zeus with each blow. Things eventually settled down to producing a solid "thwack" on impact.

    Web Original 
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


Sakurai on Impact Sounds

Masahiro Sakurai talks about the tendency for Japanese movies and games to have exaggerated sound effects for action scenes, then points out how strange it would feel if they didn't do that.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / KungFoley

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