Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise) of 1983’s “Risky Business” once said, “Sometimes you gotta say, ‘What the fuck,’ and move on.” Goodson said ‘What the fuck?’ and cut his Princeton college interviewer short, simultaneously holding a brothel at his house while his parents were away on vacation. He didn’t play by the rules, drove his dad’s porsche while he was away, and he got pretty stoned once or twice while doing it. . . Hence the name, “Risky Business.”
If you were paying attention to the Internet at all in the last few weeks, you may have been saying ‘What the fuck?’ as well. I mean, the Internet tends to elicit that reaction anyway, but this isn’t from your typical array of cat photos, Tumblr GIFs, and Floridian crime stories. This was an awesome ‘What the fuck?’ from a realization that something extremely rad in the world of film is on the horizon. Something cool and riddled with bullet holes has been created, worshipping the ’80s harder than a Prince blouse ever could, and it’s all thanks to the viral popularity of a teaser trailer for a movie known solely as “Kung Fury.”
“Kung Fury” is a movie, no, an homage, to ’80s action. It has Vikings, Nazis, dinosaurs, Norse gods, mutants, skaters, arcade-robots, explosions, and sunglasses, all revolving around one Kung-Fu cop named, yes, Kung Fury. The trailer’s popularity was spawned from a Kickstarter project created by “Laser Unicorns,” to help fund the film, or at least aid the project in finishing its initial goal, a 30-minute movie. Thanks to various blogs and media outlets posting the film’s trailer, the movie has met its asking goal of $200,000 as of last Christmas, the same time the trailer went viral.
At the time of writing, the Kickstarter had raised nearly half a million dollars. The bulk of the $200,000 asking donation is to pay seven visual effects artists to help with post-production. The film has already shot a bulk of its footage, but as you may have noticed in the trailer, it will require a ton of post-production work — the movie is literally nothing but CG characters and backgrounds. Up until now, the movie’s been helmed by but one man: “Laser Unicorns,” also known as a Swede David Sandberg.
It’s exactly that ‘What the fuck?’ mentality that Sandberg shares with Joel Goodson that got him to make this film. The statement could also be expressive of the bond between Risky Business’ birth decade and Sandberg’s biggest inspirations for Kung Fury.
“I grew up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” the writer/director said over a Skype call. “It was like crack to me, when I was a kid.” He also cited “Miami Vice,” time traveling ’80s films like “Back to the Future” and “Terminator,” and several Kung-Fu movies from Jean Claude van Damme as huge influences on “Kung Fury”‘s direction.
Sandberg taught himself 3D modeling and animation when he was only 16-years-old, and with no college background, earned a job using the skills years later. “I didn’t have Internet at the time I was learning, so I bought a manual and I just learned it from there,” he explained. The thought of someone using a manual as opposed to the Internet for tutorials and YouTube How-Tos is almost impossible to imagine, but Sandberg was eager to learn the art, and sure enough, never quit.
Eventually, his work led to another job creating visual effects for an agency in Sweden. “I sort of felt like I was getting too far away from my initial idea of making movies,” he said. “So I decided to become a director. I decided to start making commercials and music videos for four years.”
After growing tired of that, Sandberg and his roommate started toying with green screens. The two put on ’80s clothes and produced a short for their own amusement called “Rad and Bad.” “I made a really cheesy ’80s song in Fruity Loops, we did some green screen tests, and even though I didn’t think anything would happen, I saw the potential it had.” It was at this point that Sandberg was inspired enough to quit his day job with the production studio, write a 30-minute script for “Kung Fury,” and seriously pursue movie directing. Risky business, indeed.
“I’ve been living like a rat,” Sandberg said. Since quitting his job, he has spent the past year riding off of what little savings he had, and shooting the bulk of what’s featured in the “Kung Fury” trailer. He was granted $15,000 from a Swedish company that funds small projects and student films. He spent cash on costumes and actors, including the 61-year-old bodybuilder viewed in the trailer as Thor, while he used a small amount of cash to get by.
While Sandberg did struggle for the past year, it’s becoming more evident by the hour that his situation will be doing a complete U-turn. Between meetings with his crew and cast, those who aided in filming the past year, to discuss how to spend excess Kickstarter money, he’s also been talking to folks from around the world who are interested in helping him, whether it be “Kung Fury” related or otherwise. Hollywood has definitely been calling the man, which excites Sandberg, but hasn’t distracted him from his work.
Laser Unicorns’ Gmail account currently holds 15,000 emails. Internet artists are constantly offering their designs for movie posters and the film’s Facebook page is covered in wall posts asking if a “Kung Fury” game could be developed by their company.
Video games are also a big deal to Sandberg. I noted that “Hotline Miami,” a game directly inspired by the film “Drive,” reminds me a bit of what I could visually see and hear a “Kung Fury” video game looking like. Sandberg said a huge part of “Kung Fury”‘s idea was “Drive” and Kavinsky, the music producer in charge of creating some of the songs featured. The lead character’s hachimaki (Japanese headband) was inspired by “Street Fighter”‘s Ryu. Sandberg also bragged that a developer at Rockstar Games had donated to the Kickstarter. It’s a brag that’s sure to impress.
“I’m working on ways to promote the movie even further,” Sandberg said, noting that he’s well past his fund goal. “Right now, everything is just a bonus. I’ve reached my goal, and this is about ten times more the response I expected.”
The Kickstarter can still be funded, with rewards going to those who spend anywhere from $5 to $10,000 in the next 10 days. The film should wrap by November for its online-relesae date, uploaded completely free for anyone to watch.
If the $1,000,000 stretch goal is met in the next 10 days, the 30-minute film will be made and an additional full-feature length “Kung Fury” will be created with its new budget. It’s not totally unlikely that Sandberg will get his $1,000,000, but for now, the half million fund will do just fine for the director and his first film. Here’s to having goals, a drive for success, and a way of giving back to the ’80s.