Friday, April 28, 2023

The Streets Run Red

This is a piece I did for a early 70s Japanese gangster film directed by Hideo Gosha. It's dark, violent and, well, takes it's brand of yakuza action to the streets. So, in a flagrant example of "truth in advertising", it's actually called VIOLENT STREETS.  

I've never been a fan of the "stack of floating heads" poster style so popular in the 1990s. (ie: names across the top, head over shoulder, head over shoulder, head over shoulder, horses running in silhouette across the bottom, done call it a day.) So when possible, I always try to give the characters a little bit of business. Holding a prop, a weapon, a phone, some sort of indication to who their character is. So viewers can get a hint of the story, or at least the type of story from the imagery.

Also juxtaposing protagonists and antagonist facing each other can visually express a sense of the conflict. In this film it's not so much "good guys versus bad guys", they are all pretty much "bad". But it's still one group versus another and my composition splits them down the middle with our protagonists on the left. The bloody Japanese title divides them and spills out onto the dark street itself where it joins the bleeding body of a woman. While the whole scene is rendered off-kilter, is contrasting hues of reds and blues. Hot and cold against a neutral gray night.    

Various elements, such as tiny flying chicken feathers, a pack of German Shepherds, a transvestite with a knife are all pulled from the film, but don't spoil any major plot point.

The rough comp is shown to the right (inset) with the final finished piece below.

The other primary color, a prominent yellow muzzle flash, subtly reflects on the actors faces and is echoed in the director's name. While all the red lighting the scene emanates from the Japanese title.

Take the sex and the violence from this film, and add martial arts. Stir until it comes to a fine boil. That's next time.

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