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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kung-Fu Hustle sketches

Here are a couple of exploratory sketches from the movie Kung-Fu hustle done in a cartoony style.  I plan on doing an few digital sketches soon, these were done in ball point pen, just a few minutes each. Really rough just getting the characterization down.
Kung Fu Hustle is a 2004 action comedy film directed and produced by, and starring Stephen Chow of Shaolin Soccer fame. 
The movie follows the antics of Sing (Stephen Chow) and Bone, two wanna be gangsters.  On his path to break in to the axe gang, Sing discovers he is destined for much greater things.  This movie has a great cast of characters, and is hillarious to watch. 
Kung Fu Hustle makes references to a wide range of films, animated cartoons and other sources, drawing on ideas from Wuxia novels. The housing arrangement of the Pig Sty Alley is similar to that of a 1973 Hong Kong film, The House of 72 Tenants.   (When Sing arrives at Pig Sty Alley, he shows fancy footwork with a football, then says, "You're still playing football?". This refers to his previous movie, Shaolin Soccer as does the scene where a Clerk beats Sing up on a bus. The clerk also appeared in Shaolin Soccer as the leader of an opposing team who used hidden weapons to beat up the Shaolin Soccer team. During the altercation between Sing and the hairdresser, the hairdresser states, "Even if you kill me, there will be thousands more of me!". This is a parody of a saying by Lu Hao-tung, a Chinese revolutionary in the late Qing Dynasty.  The scene where Sing is chased by the Landlady as he flees from the Alley is a homage to Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner, characters in Looney Tunes cartoons, down to the pursuer's (the Landlady's) ill fate. In the scene were he robs the Ice Cream stand, a poster for the 1935 movie Top Hat is in the background. As Sing arrives at the door to the Beast's cell in the mental asylum, he hallucinates a large wave of blood rushing from the cell door, similar to a scene in The Shining.

A major element of the plot is based on a Wuxia film series Palm of Ru Lai released in 1964. Sing studied the same Buddhist Palm Kung Fu style from a young age and realised it at the end of the film. In reality, it does not leave palm-shaped craters and holes on impact. Instead, the user delivers powerful punches using his palm. The Chinese name of the Beast, the Evil God of the Fiery Cloud  and the fight with the Landlady and her husband are also references to the film, where a mortally wounded master strikes the patterns of his art's final techniques into a bell so that his apprentice can learn from it.  There are direct references to some characters from Louis Cha's Wuxia novels. For example, the landlord and landlady referred to themselves as Yang Guo  and Xiaolongnü  from Cha's The Return of the Condor Heroes when they met the Beast.
An aerial shot of Sing fighting the Axe Gang. The fight is reminiscent of The Matrix Reloaded.
References to gangster films are also present. The boss of the Axe Gang, Brother Sum is named after Hon Sam , the triad boss in Infernal Affairs. The Harpists imitate The Blues Brothers, wearing similar hats and sunglasses at all times. When they are flattered by the Axe Gang advisor, one of them answers "Strictly speaking we're just musicians", similar to a line by Elwood Blues.  When Donut dies, he says "in great power lies great responsibility", a clear reference to Spider-Man, said by Uncle Ben before his death.  Afterwards, with his dying breath, he gets up, grabs the Landlord by the shirt and utters in English, "What are you prepared to do?", a nod to Sean Connery's character Jim Malone in Brian De Palma's 1987 film The Untouchables. The final fight between Sing (who has been reborn into "the one" paying homage to Bruce Lee by wearing his costume in Enter the Dragon and using his fighting style) and the hundreds of gangsters imitates the fight between Neo and hundreds of Agent Smiths in The Matrix Reloaded. The scene in which the Beast prompts an axe member to punch him harder is reminiscent of a similar scene in Raging Bull, with Robert De Niro's character prompting Joe Pesci's character. The last scene, in which the beggar tries to sell martial arts manuals, refers directly to the greatest skills in Louis Cha's Condor Trilogy (Nine Yang Manual, Divine Finger Skill, and Eighteen Dragon-Subduing Palms), Thousand Hand Divine Fist, and The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (Nine Swords of Dugu). The scene where the landlady confronts Brother Sum in the back of his car is a homage to Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon, where he cracks his knuckles and gives a fast upper nod to the bad guy, telling him to back off.

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I am an Art Director/ freelance illustrator working in the Movie, Comics and Gameing industries. I have also provided graphics for advertisement companies and clothing companies. I am Currently working as Lead Artist for Soul Interface Studios (SIS) and always willing to discuss exciting new opportunities.