Monday, June 26, 2023

The Dragon Remembered

This year, 2023, marks a milestone in the history of kung fu cinema. It's now been fifty years since the release of Bruce Lee's 1973 seminal martial arts classic, ENTER THE DRAGON. The film was not only a financial success at the time, but was equally influential to subsequent action films and television programs. 

Bruce was in the middle of producing his magnum opus, GAME OF DEATH, when Warner Brothers offered him his first starring roll in an American film. So he paused his work on that film and made BLOOD AND STEEL (which he demanded by retitled ENTER THE DRAGON). 

Sadly, his untimely death right before the release of this film also meant he never got to fully expereince this new global adulation, or have the chance to complete GAME OF DEATH in Hong Kong. Just as Lee broke thru to worldwide stardom, his burgeoning career, and his life, abruptly ended. Aged just thirty-two. 

I was commissioned to produce some artwork for the cover of a retrospective look back at Bruce's Hollywood starring debut. Although the full-color image was utilized, two alternate monochromatic versions were also produced. (see below)

Bruce Lee cast a long shadow. We explore what has happened in those shadows, and see what the legendary Sammo Hung was up to the following year. Next time.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Remember. Revisit. Respect.

Late last year I was comissioned to create a poster for a new documentary which celebrates Bruce Lee's first major film role, 1971's THE BIG BOSS. The doc locates and revisits the surviving filming locations in Thailand as they exist now. 

Usually my clients for Blu-ray movie covers offer no direction. "Can you make us a cover for such-and-such film by next Friday?". But this time, my brief directed me to use this iconic shot of Bruce from the film as the focus image. (As well as incorporate the required text.) 

So my main concern, given the similar title, was to avoid confusion and clearly convey that this is NOT a poster for THE BIG BOSS, but a new documentary about THE BIG BOSS. So to that end I "watermarked" the background with many behind-the-scenes photos from the film. And pulled one such image to the forefront in the lower left corner. One in gold and a second version in blue.

I created a title font for the film, similar to the bold red original, but now distressed as if from age, set against a muted silhouetted Thai landscape. For added interest I included a familiar black shape of Lee performing his famous jumping kick from the film's finale. 

Below is the less common blue variant.

This year is an important one for Bruce Lee fans, as it marks a milestone. We shall dig deeper into that next time as we continue the Celebration of Bruce Lee. Would that make it a "Cele-Bruce-tion"?
I'll show myself out.