CULVER CITY, CA — Colorworks, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s (www.sonypictures.com) digital intermediate facility, recently provided color grading services for Universal Pictures’ The Man With the Iron Fists. The Quentin Tarantino action/adventure film was directed by RZA of the hip-hop group Wu Tang Clan. It stars RZA, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Rick Yune, Jamie Chung, Cung Le, Dave Bautista, Byron Mann, Daniel Wu and Pam Grier.
Senior colorist Trent Johnson was tasked with finalizing the look of the film, which was shot in China by cinematographer Chi Ying Chan (credited in film as Chan Chi Ying). The film, according to Johnson, is lush and rich, in keeping with the mythic style of the classic Chinese martial arts films of the ’70s and ’80s. “The look was imposed by the set design, by the art direction and the costumes,” explains Johnson. “It’s formalized, like much of Chinese art and architecture.”
Johnson developed stylized color effect for a flashback sequence set in the United States, when the film’s main character, Blacksmith (RZA), was a young man. He de-saturated the scene to black & white and then applied spot color to certain highlights. “We brought back the yellow glow of a lantern and a flame, and restored the red to blood,” he recalls. “It was important to establish that the scene was a flashback and to let the audience know that we are in a different time and place.”
Johnson took even greater liberties with a series of stylized martial arts scenes that play under the film’s end credits. “We applied different effects to each clip, all of them reminiscent of older martial arts films. We used color reversal looks, Kodachrome looks, Ektachrome looks and similar looks that were created with film stocks.”