Update: We spoke to David Sandberg, the director of Kung Fury, the ‘80s-fueled Nazi-ninja-dinosaur movie that has taken the internet by storm, on Friday afternoon.
The biggest movie of the week is a non-stop throwback thriller, featuring outrageous set pieces, shaky science, and a lot of CGI.
No, it’s not The Rock’s San Andreas. It’s Kung Fury, a crowd-funded, 30-minute short film that is like a psychedelic ‘80s homage, complete with a song written by David Hasselhoff. (You can watch the whole thing above.)
The product of Swedish visual effects artist and music video director David Sandberg, the film is a loving mashup of cheesy ‘80s favorites like Miami Vice and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, along with rudimentary digital effects, dinosaurs, arcade games, insane sci-fi and Nazis. Based on a trailer Sandberg made in 2012, the short is a result of a massively successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $680,000 from over 17,000 donors. It made its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was admitted as part of the prestigious Director’s Fortnight — a better result than the out-of-competition beach screening he was expecting.
Sandberg himself stars as the titular hero, Kung Fury, a stoic cop with crazy ninja skills. He’s privy to the ways of the underworld and soon realizes that none other than Hitler (The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone) is bent on using his own karate abilities to take over the world (under the name Kung Fuhrer, of course).
The writer/director/star spoke to Yahoo Movies after he landed in New York on Friday, right before the film’s U.S. premiere at the Rooftop Film Festival. “It has a little bit of Terminator, a little Karate Kid, Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles, and Robocop,” Sandberg said of Kung Fury. “I tried to sum up my feeling of the ‘80s in a short film.“
What was it like finally debuting the movie?
We had a premiere in my hometown, up north in Umea, Sweden, with me and friends and Kickstarter backers. We were celebrating Kung Fury and ‘80s, drinking beer and having a good time. We rented a place called The Apple, it’s an old ‘80s club, and we had an ‘80s dress code. We had an Italian DJ who only played Italian disco. Then we saw that Kung Fury was in the first spot on Reddit, on the front page, and we were freaking out and drinking champagne and celebrating.
So where did this idea originally come from?
The thing that inspired me the most was actually the music. I listened to a guy named Mitch Murder, he’s like a Swedish Jan Hammer. I listened to his music all the time when I wrote the script and he was the biggest inspiration for me, and I’m so glad he made the soundtrack. I had just bought a green screen, and I was experimenting and did this test where I had Mitch Murder music and was doing Miami Vice stuff. And I thought, ‘This was really cool — if I put effort into this, it could really be something.’ I had initially intended to do the whole short film by myself, all the visual effects. But after working on it for a long time, I realized it was too ambitious. I was completely broke, and my idea was to do a trailer and at the same time launch a Kickstarter in order to raise money to help me out. Then the Kickstarter was a success, and the rest is history.
King Fury, oddly enough, is only the latest Scandinavian genre-Nazi parody, after Norway’s Dead Snow and Finland′s Iron Sky.
It’s a Scandinavian thing, for some reason. I’m not sure why. It’s weird. I just thought that Hitler, he to me is the ultimate bad guy. And I thought the name “Kung Fuhrer” was so funny, that he had to be in it.
And now it’s going to be a feature film?
We’re starting to develop the script with a company called KatzSmith, which is David Katzenberg [son of DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg] and Seth Grahame-Smith [author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies]. When we met them in L.A., their office was splattered with ‘80s posters and stuff. They were just ‘80s nerds like me. To me, they’re like mentors. This past year and a half has been like a film school.
So what will a feature-film version look like? Is Hitler still the bad guy?
Hitler will still probably be there. It’ll be a clean slate, but in the same universe. Time travel will be in there. Some elements will still be there, but it’ll be more in depth. The 30 minutes is very intense — there’s so much going on, you can barely breath. So we will give people room to get to know the universe.
Please tell me Triceracop will be back?
He will definitely be back. He was the favorite in Cannes.