Monday, July 31, 2023

The Fury of Rothrock

Cynthia Rothrock has the unique distinction of being possibly the only American actor to get her cinematic start in Hong Kong action films. A superior athlete, Rothrock segued her status as the undefeated World Champion in Martial Arts Forms and Weapons into a equally successful career in the world of action filmmaking. After several popular martial arts action films in Hong Kong she now primarily works on US productions as an actor, writer and producer.

In 1989 after appearing in various supporting action roles, HK juggernaut studio Golden Harvest gave Cynthia the lead role in an action comedy called THE BLONDE FURY (retitled LADY REPORTER for the export market). I won't go into details of the fragmented production schedule, but the final result is a thoroughly pleasing romp full of exciting set pieces and ernest performances. These Hong Kong performers truly risk life and limb for our "popcorn entertainment".

Commissioned to do the remastered Blu-ray package, I endeavored to capture that late 80's visual aethestic (right down to the "VHS sticker") while still making the art feel vibrant and fresh. The movie is a bit "all over the place", and so is the cover art. Her name above the title is sharpie marker on masking tape. Perhaps a little bit "punk". The film did not have a strong marketing campaign upon it's initial release so I was free to come up with my own vibe.

 The booklet cover art carries forward the same visual theme.

We'll continue the "ladies kickin' ass" theme next time with another popular film in the Hong kong girls with guns action subgenre.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

The Canton Boxer

THE SKYHAWK is a 1974 martial arts film, unique in the fact that in acts as a bridge of sorts. A passing of the "action movie torch". It stars a veteran superstar actor (nearly 70 year-old Kwan Tak-hing who had already portrayed folk hero Wong Fei-hung in about as many films) passed his prime but still kicking, along side up-and-coming superstar Sammo Hung, and powerhouse action actors Carter Wong, Hwang In-shik and even Nora Miao.

Luckily the film lives up to it pedigree. Packed with memorable action set pieces and lots of emotion, it stills thrills action fans today, while hinting at the lofty heights Hung would achieve in the decade to come.

For the cover art I followed the same visual template I designed for a previous series of kung fu/wuxia films from this period. It features larger than life villian, Hwan In-shik, menacing in a blue color theme with our weaponless heroes huddled in the center.

The booklet cover design shows our heroes walking toward their final showdown amongst the ruins of a Thai temple, rendered in a shilouetted minimalistic style. Why can't they make movie like this anymore?

Next up. The blonde fury herself, Cynthia Rothrock, gets her due in a starring role.