Sideshow Podcast: How 'Kung Fury' Went from Karate Joke to Kickstarter to Cannes

Studio 360

Kung Fury is every 80s action film you've ever watched and dreamed of, packed into a ridiculous, rollicking, fully retro 30 minutes. It’s about a renegade cop in 1985 Miami who gets hacked back in time to kill Hitler, of course. But really it's about reveling in synth-pop, mullets, awesome jackets, and all things silly about cinema. David Sandberg, a 29-year-old Swedish filmmaker, wanted to make something that would live up to a child's wildest dreams of what a movie should be. "When you look at movie posters from the 80s, it's like, 'Wow!'" he says. "I wanted to make Kung Fury like jumping into that poster and delivering what the poster promises." 

Sandberg came up with Kung Fury while making commercials and music videos in Stockholm. “I had a piece of paper and I wrote down a bunch of cool words," he says. "Inferno, justice, cop force, and then I had 'Kung Fu' and somewhere on there I had 'fury' and it just clicked: 'Kung Fury!'" Sandberg quit his job, moved back to his mom’s, played around with a green screen on his own dime, and then, in December of 2013, put a trailer on Kickstarter. The internet responded exactly as he had hoped and he raised over $600,000 in under a month. 

Kung Fury will probably end up in the history books — not because it's particularly good (though millions of YouTube viewers would argue it is), but on account of it going from popular joke trailer, to blockbuster Kickstarter campaign, to an eventual debut at the Cannes Film Festival — yes, that Cannes. Sandberg found out about beachside screenings outside the annual Festival and applied earlier this year. He didn't think much would come of it, but was accepted. “When we had the screening I was super nervous because there were some films before Kung Fury that were super serious," Sandberg says of the film's premiere at this year's festival. "I thought that people would hate Kung Fury for poking fun at the art of film or something. But people loved it.” 

Next, Sandberg is working on a full-length version of the film. But he might not have to depend on the internet this time around. After Cannes, he met with Hollywood producers who offered to finance a longer version of his kung fu comedy. He also befriended David Hasselhoff, who offered to help in any way possible:  


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