Over the past several years, I’ve been in contact with various independent filmmakers that have turned to crowd-funding to get their projects off the ground. Many have found out the hard way that it’s tough to succeed on Kickstarter and/or Indiegogo. With so many projects looking for financial backing, a lot of cool shorts and films get lost in the shuffle and fail to meet their goals.
But I’ve also seen quite a few filmmakers pull off a win and either achieve their monetary goal, or surpass it. Which brings me to David Sandberg’s KUNG FURY. Back in December 2013 – January 2014, David was looking for backing for his little ode to 80s action cinema. His goal was two-hundred thousand dollars to finish the short film, or a cool million to shoot a feature-length version.
In the end, the masses pledged over six-hundred grand to Sandberg’s project! The half-hour version of KUNG FURY was a go! And then came the long wait… which turned out to be totally worth it! After numerous delays, Sandberg’s KUNG FURY finally debuted for absolutely free on YouTube, on May 28th, 2015!
The film centers on our hero, Kung Fury (writer/director David Sandberg), a Miami police officer who was granted super martial arts powers. How did he gain his abilities? Well he was simultaneously struck by lightning and bitten by a cobra, mere seconds before he avenges his partner’s death at the hands of a ninja master. Ever since that fateful night, Kung Fury has been busy using his powers to fight crime and maintain law and order.
But being the “chosen one” makes Kung Fury a target of one of the most evil villains in world history: Adolf Hitler, a.k.a. The Kung Fuhrer (Jorma Taccone). Thinking that he’ll become Earth’s supreme martial artist if Kung Fury is taken out, Hitler travels back in time and attempts to assassinate our hero. Kung Fury survives, vows vengeance, then has his pal Hackerman (Leopold Nilsson donning a Nintendo PowerGlove) “hack him back in time.”
Things go wrong, and soon Kung Fury is flung back to the Viking Age where he meets gun-toting barbarian babes (Eleni Young and Helene Ahlson), dinosaurs (“laser raptors!”), and the Norse God of Thunder himself, Thor (Swedish bodybuilder Andreas Cahling)! Eventually, Kung Fury arrives in Nazi Germany, and battles Hitler’s legions with his newfound allies at his side. Will the motley crew of heroes win out, or will the Kung Fuhrer reign victorious and change world history forever?! CLICK HERE to find out right now!
KUNG FURY is a delightful fever dream of a movie that doesn’t attempt to explain away any of its absurdity. In fact it revels in it! Kung Fury breaks the laws of physics as he kicks his way through opponents, an angry arcade machine goes on a murderous rampage, dino-riding Viking women mow down Nazis with their machine guns, and that’s just a taste of the wonderful madness contained in this short film!
Though I’m a huge proponent of practical special effects, I realize that they have limitations and can be expensive. That being said, as cool as it would have been to see fully animatronic dinosaurs and robots interacting with the characters, I am more than OK with the director’s decision to go full CGI. It’s way more cost effective for an indie production, and allows you to do so much more.
For example, the director needed to shoot a scene in a police station, but only had a handful of extras and one police uniform. To remedy this issue, each extra donned the uniform, shot some footage, and were then all composited into one scene, giving the illusion of a populated police precinct! It’s digital movie magic!
The digital effects work in the film was handled by a Swedish company called Fido and they did a fantastic job! Sure, some of the f/x shots look a bit cheesy, but that’s kind of the point. That’s the feel that the filmmakers were going for and it all totally works! It is glorious to behold!
Along with the crazy cast of characters, and the above average effects, KUNG FURY boasts an incredible soundtrack! The score is mostly 80s-style synth (courtesy of “Mitch Murder” and various other artists), but also boasts a supremely catchy tune called “True Survivor,” which is performed by none other than David Hasslehoff. The soundtrack enhances this movie, and believe it or not, was released on vinyl!
By the time KUNG FURY ended, I was left wanting more! It’s a very satisfying half-hour, but you feel a bit cheated when the end credits begin to roll. Maybe that’s because it feels more like the pilot for a TV series than an actual film. This short film is just a taste of what might have been, and it kills me to think that we could have had a feature-length version if backers pledged another four-hundred grand! (If only Kickstarter had an option to briefly extend the deadline! Curses!)
As it stands, David Sandberg’s KUNG FURY is an enjoyable parody of 80s action cinema that warrants repeat viewings. It’s a true Cinderalla story, where a guy that was broke and down on his luck, came up with a crazy idea, and ran with it. Now Sandberg’s whole life has changed, and he is currently working with Hollywood producers to create a big-budget feature-length version of his short film! How crazy is that?!
To quote the late Roger Ebert (from his review for INFRA-MAN) KUNG FURY is “audacious and berserk;” I love this movie and can’t recommend it enough! It’s a celebration of the decade of decadence, of action spectacles, of robots and dinosaurs, and I can’t get enough of it! I am more than happy to award this modern cult sensation with: