Wednesday, January 20, 2016

VFX: Paying Homage to the '80s in Kung Fury

I will forever stand by that statement.

Now and then there comes along a movie of unadulterated awesomeness: Kung Fury is such a film. Starting as a Kickstarter campaign in late December 2013, the project for a thirty-minute comedy short inspired by American action/cop creations from the 1980s quickly garnered a huge amount of attention and nearly 18,000 backers. Exceeding the original target goal of $200,000 by reaching more than $630,000 in only a month's time, filming began in July of 2014. The finished product aired free-of-pay on online platforms less than a year later, and the world became a much cooler place.

The End.

Dat poster, tho.
Content Advisory: Ages 15+ for 
some profanity and cartoonish/over-the-top gore.

Well, there's actually a lot more to this story. Writer/director/producer/VFX artist/lead actor/stunt performer/casting director/overall ridiculously talented Swede David Sandberg is the main man behind the movie. Known mainly for music videos and telly commercials, Sandberg began work on the script for Kung Fury back in 2012, shooting and compiling the trailer that would eventually release with the crowdfund. As for the plot, well...take it away, IMDB:

Best idea ever made even better by the astounding post-production VFX and compositing. They lend an incredibly authentic '80s vibe to the entire piece, whether it's a scene featuring a side-scrolling stunt sequence involving serious Nazi ass-kicking, or something more subtle like a stuttering effect seemingly caused by a worn VHS tape.

Sandberg gives a VFX breakdown in this video, going over chroma keying, the use of miniatures, CGI, and pyrotechnic 'splosions. (There are meant to be more clips in the series, but the last upload was in July of last year, so...) A number of cinematographers were involved in the making of this short film, including aerial director of photography Henning Sandström. He shot some fantastic fantasy-feel footage of rural landscapes in Norway for the scenes in which Kung Fury travels back in time to—ahem—the 'Viking Age'. Sandberg also got French studio Old Skull Games on board to create a low budget He-Manesque animated sequence toward the end of the film. "I believe that when you combine the best of two worlds—practical effects and visual effects—is when you achieve the best results."

Another all-important 'effect' is the original score provided by Swedish synthwave musicians Lost Years, Highway Superstar, Betamaxx, and the fantastic Mitch Murder. I personally love Retrowave, neo-progressive, and similar genres, so pairing that with hyper-violence, puntastic one-liners, and a plot like Kung Fury's made the film an instant hit for me. Not only that, but freaking '80s icon David Hasselhoff did a full music video for the movie's main theme, "True Survivor." The single as well as the complete OST remain available for purchase on vinyl (I shit you not).

But wait...! There's more! As if they had not paid homage enough to the Greatest Decade of them All™, Hello There published a video game companion called Kung Fury: Street Rage. Reminiscent of retro arcade beat 'em ups with similar mechanics to One Finger Death Punch, it is available on a variety of devices; there was even a limited edition Commodore 64 version.

This post actually comes at a preeminent time in KF history: it just won the Swedish Academy Award for best short film. Congrats, Guldbaggen recipients! The audience looks forward to seeing the full-length feature film version however and whenever that may come about.

Now, for shits & gigs, I wanted to share a few of the more unusual plot keyords tagged on Kung Fury's IMDB page.

  • wearing sunglasses at night
  • female bodybuilder
  • handheld minigum
  • raptor
  • dismemberment
  • viking helmet
  • power glove
  • historically inaccurate [I beg to differ]
  • Lamborghini Countach
  • naziploitation
  • punched in the crotch
  • parking meter
  • skateboard

Watch Kung Fury in HD quality here.

The tropiest of tropes.