Sunday, March 26, 2023

Action Overload

I went with a blue tone for IN THE LINE OF DUTY IV starring Cynthia Khan and Donnie Yen. (Perhaps the abundance of 1980s denim played a role.) The cover strives for that balance of positive and negative space. With bold lines driving the eye toward the title. I never like to clutter the image with dozens of heads peeking over shoulders so the colored lines provide a natural visual element for layering the figures. And I was able to render every figure doing something energetic which helps define their character, and provides a better impression of the film.

Although the first four films are the most popular, it would still be wonderful to release the remaining films in the (admittedly loosely-connected) series. If nothing else but for the sake of completing the set.

Hopefully, if original film elements survive in good condition, one day Fortune Star will see fit to remaster the final few films in HD and make them available for licensing by distributors. We can only hope.

Until then, we can at least enjoy these HK cinema action classics in beautiful new transfers. They look better than ever on home video.

The series... so far.

Next time... the streets run red.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Duty Calls

Taiwanese actress Cynthia Khan (a stage name amalgamation of Cynthia Rothrock and Michelle Khan) takes over for a retiring Michelle Yeoh in this hard-hitting installment in the very loosely connected Hong Kong "girls with guns" film series. For the IN THE LINE DUTY III cover art I continued the graphic theme established previously, this time with a yellow tone as seen on the original HK lobby cards.  

The booklet cover spread continues the visual theme. (The Thai poster is featured on the back.)

As does the menu featuring that iconic shot.

Next up... the fourth time's the charm.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Biao in Action

This was a quick little cover piece I did for a magazine highlighting the 1990s work of Hong Kong action star Yuen Biao. The main image is from 1987's EASTERN CONDORS per my client's request, but the inset images are all from his later work, made during the decline of the film industry. 

To differentiate the films profiled inside, I rendered the smaller images of Biao in a graphic flat style, with a limited blue/orange color palette and popped them out of a strip of 35mm film.

Next time, we return to the IN THE LINE OF DUTY series with impressive new-comer Cynthia Khan.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Magnificent Michelle

The overdue appreciation of the work of actress MICHELLE YEOH continues in the US and UK, with the re-release of her 1987 actioner MAGNIFICENT WARRIORS. The period action adventure gave more than a passing nod to the exploits of one Indiana Jones. And therefore, my packaging took inspiration from that same source as well. It really was a missed opportunity to have her team up with the good doctor for an adventure or two. Although not playing an archeologist, Yoeh brings her own sensibilities to the roving adventurer archetype. She can more than hold her own in a fight. With fists, feet or her handy rope dart. And, more importantly, she knows how to LAND a plane.

The booklet cover (below) solely focused on Michelle in her defense posture. I actually did the art a few months before I even knew my client was going to release the film. Just as a fun exercise. 

Yuen Biao gets a retro retrospective... and a magazine cover

That's next time.

Monday, January 30, 2023

A Warrior's Heart

Michelle Yeoh followed up her star turn in YES, MADAM! with the brutal actioner, ROYAL WARRIORS, in 1986. You can tell the producers were now confident in her proven abilities to carry the film and please an audience, as they did not feel the need to add goofy sequences featuring star cameos into the film this time. The film is better for it.

For this cover design I went with an intense orange tone, culled from the fiery Hong Kong poster.

The right hand side of the image is a bit "spoilerific". As it slyly tells the story of Michael Wong's character arc. 




The book cover design naturally follows the theme established on the previous film in the series.

As does the rather sparse menu design.

e'll take a quick break from the IN THE LINE OF DUTY series, but stay with MICHELLE YEOH to focus on her next film. It's magnificent. That's next time.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Madam Yeoh Meets Miss Rothrock

The Hong Kong "girls with guns" subgenre of action films is generally considered to have started in 1985 with the release of  the action-comedy YES, MADAM! Due to it's commercial success, production company D&B Films was quick to produce more movies with a similar theme. Some starring their new starlet, Michelle Yeoh. Retroactively these loosely-connected films were marketed as a "series" called IN THE LINE OF DUTY  with YES, MADAM! being marketed as the first film in the series in some regions, and the second in other markets. 

Regardless of the order of the films, YES, MADAM! remains a highlight of female-lead action cinema, and it was a pleasure to design the packaging for the first 4 films in the series. (Their success slowly dwindled after the wonderful fourth installment, and the rights holder has yet to make the remaining 3 films available in HD, but who knows what the future may hold.) 

I decided to give each film a consistent bold compositional design, with a unique color theme. YES, MADAM! demanded a minty 'Miami Vice' mid-80s palette. With a splash of hot pink paint to pop the title and mimic the original HK poster art. I also decided to choose a simple title font that could work with all the film titles in the series (long or short), to further connect them visually.

I was able to illustrate the leads in representative poses exploding from the title, and give Michelle and Cynthia the emphasis they deserve. Monochromatic background elements in the upper corners are architectural details seen in the final act's big action set piece (soon to be painfully smashed by falling stuntmen).


For the booklet cover I went with a minimal black background with the leads in a tinted monochrome under the title text. 

I carried this over to the Blu-ray menu, with the background design element from the cover behind the title and a color photo of the leads. This left plenty of room for a single-page layout of all the menu options. 

Next time, WARRIORS get the ROYAL treatment.