Friday, September 30, 2022

They're Both Super Cops

For the third entry in the popular POLICE STORY series, Jackie Chan turned the directorial duties over to a young stuntman-turned-director, Stanley Tong. Tong suggested Chan partner with action actress Michelle Yeoh, who was looking for a suitable project for her return to cinema screens after her brief retirement (and marriage). This was a first for Jackie, as usually his female co-stars were primarily there for him to rescue in the third act. Not so with Michelle. Their on-screen chemistry, along with Tong’s talent for staging jaw-dropping stunts, gave the film a freshness, humor and was a recipe for both commercial and critical success. I was pleased to be offered the opportunity to do package design for this Hong Kong action classic. I didn’t have much time to complete the project, but I wasn’t gonna pass it up either.

Every month I like to drive up to the mountains for a few days rest. It’s a four hour drive and I’ve taken that road so many times I basically drive on auto-pilot. Not literally. (It’s not a self-driving car.)  But when I have a design project I often pass the time by doing the creative design work on the road. Choosing fonts, colors and building the composition mentally on the inside of the windshield. In my head I’m talking to myself. “How about these colors? No wait. Move the leads to the top and position the car crash at the bottom. Or how about down the side? Run the text vertical or better yet on an angle. Oh so now the whole thing flows this way. And that leaves me room for… “

By the time I arrive, the design is done and all I have to do now is to physically render it. Not an insignificant task, but at least the drive is fruitful and I can sit at my desk with some deliberate direction instead of my typical blank thousand-yard stare. 

That was the process with POLICE STORY III: SUPER COP.

I placed the visual emphasis on a desperate and nearly beaten Jackie and Michelle being "in over their heads" and out-numbered. Only by working side-by-side with fists and firepower could they overcome seemingly unsurmountable odds. Add in some bold explosive colors, dynamic text, representations of the famous stunts by both leads, and a Kuala Lumpur skyline. Stir until it boils. And if you look closely at the top Michelle's expression. She has already pulled the grenade's pin. No going back now.

For the interior inlay card I played it a bit more safe. This design is a more typical "action movie" composition.

For the booklet cover I designed a passing train silhouette instead of a skyline silhouette. Since all the characters come together on top of the train at the end of the film it seemed a natural choice. I set it against a wash of yellow with a collage of watermarked production photos. (Cinemart, Milky Way and Japanese photo mooks to the rescue!) 

Each of the three times I drew Michelle Yeoh I think I got a little better at capturing her likeness. I think that will serve me well with my upcoming projects.


 Next month is Halloween... things are gonna get spooky.

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