Tuesday, May 31, 2022

They Be Dragons... Forever

One evening I was contacted with the seemingly odd request to see if I could whip up a design for the cover of the Sammo Hung/Jackie Chan/Yuen Biao classic DRAGONS FORVER… in a couple hours. They wanted to review it THAT night. Weird, but NOT the strangest request to come across my desk, believe it or not. So I put down my fork, shoved my dinner back in the microwave and went to work mocking up a quick design.

This is what I presented. With my intention to illustrate it (or something like it) if approved. Jackie is a little blurry here as I only had some 30-year old magazines to work from.

I believe it was posted for feedback on a public forum with the general consensus being it looked like something hastily mocked up in Photoshop in a couple hours. Um. Bingo. That’s EXACTLY what it was! An initial concept, not final art.

So a request came for a second design. Posthaste. Okay. Here we go again. More red meat was thrown to the masses to stick their pitchforks into.

The next day, this potential client then asked for a mockup of THE PROTECTOR as well. I did an original, as well as a revised updated version of the Japanese poster adding in the missing Sally Yeh. (Everything goes better with Sally Yeh.)


Then a few CRIME STORY comps followed also in a hurry the following day. Not sure what the rush was. Perhaps they needed something to show someone I guess. It wasn't for me to know.

In the end that client was like, "Eh. Thanks, but nevermind."

You win some. You lose some. That's the nature of business. I've learned from 30+ years of graphic design you just do your best, but don't get too emotionally attached to this stuff. It'll break your heart.

Funnily enough, soon after, I noticed a Blu-ray distributor in Asia apparently felt quite differently regarding the artwork. And was happily using my DRAGONS FOREVER art for the slipcover on their release of the film. Would've been nice if they asked me first. But I contacted them and settled it. I told them it was only a design mockup, but apparently they are quite fond of photo collages and felt it worked for them perfectly as it was. No more work needed.

You lose some. You win some. On it goes.

Next up.... designing a flexible template for a series of martial arts classics.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Animals With Weight Issues

HK filmmaker and martial arts super star Sammo Hung severed ties with longtime powerhouse production company Golden Harvest as the 1980s came to a close. With a leaner budget he soldiered on with intensity, but the cracks were starting to show. 1990 saw the release of SKINNY TIGER AND FATTY DRAGON, an uneven but fun action comedy that sees Hung reunite with comedy legend Karl Maka and action master Lau Kar-wing. The fight scenes still shine brightly, while a few of the “in between” scenes feel a little more like filler material. Still, the film remains a highlight of Hung’s 1990s output.

For the cover art, I tried to play-up the dynamic colorful nature of the film while paying homage to the design aesthetic of the time in which the film was made (especially inside the pages of the included booklet). I derived the color palette from the HK title logo and gave the composition energy with an explosion of overlapping lavender-toned characters amongst orange and teal paint splatters. Our heroes are depicted surrounded by adversaries (even quarreling with each other in the center as they do in the film), but at the bottom stand together ready for battle.

 Not being a fan of the original somewhat awkward-looking English title, I created a new title treatment that read clearer and better fit my various uses for it (spine, disc, menu, etc.).

Since I feel a so-called “limited edition” o-card slipcover should provide something that is actually limited in availability, for the inlay artwork I decided not to reuse the same art but rather to utilize this space to highlight the wonderful Thai poster artwork. I painted out the Thai text and added the new English title font. And for the reverse, I recreated a close approximation of the original Hong Kong photo poster artwork from various elements I had, since a high resolution version could not be provided by the licensee.

I had seen a YouTube trailer for the Mark Houghton documentary I AM THE WHITE TIGER and suggested to my client to possibly license the doc as an extra feature. Sometimes they go along with my suggestions (such as fixing the color grade on THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR, as the provided master was an over-bright teal and orange mess) and sometimes they don’t (releasing WARRIORS TWO and THE PRODIGAL SON in separate Amaray cases inside a hard slipbox, ala CINEMATIC VENGEANCE). You win some, you lose some. But somewhat to my surprise, a week later they told me they were now including it on a limited bonus disc. Cool!

I wish we could’ve sourced an HD version of the entire extended Taiwanese cut of the film. But it’s not unusual for those Mandarin-dubbed prints to be extremely hard to find in good condition these days. At least excerpts are included in standard definition as a bonus feature.

See you next time… where we keep the DRAGON theme going. FOREVER.