18 Uppercut

18 Uppercut is a Shanghai-based visual collective helmed by Morris Lee and Pete Gibson. Since they joined forces in 2018, the duo has created an impressive body of work that runs the gamut from film to fashion to toy design. Their diverse professional and cultural backgrounds—Lee’s from Singapore, while Gibson is from the US, and they’ve both held every sort of job imaginable—constantly inspire their work. Recent projects include an interactive music video for Chinese American rapper Bohan Phoenix, a visually explosive short film with music producer W.Y. Huang, an art figurine made with design studio Mighty Jaxx, and collaborations with Hong Kong streetwear brand Dragonmade8. 


上海视觉厂牌 18 Uppercut 的两位负责人分别为来自新加坡的 Morris Lee 和美国的 Pete Gibson。从 2018 年初正式联手以来,两人打造了众多令人印象深刻的作品,折射出他们的独特创意、专业和文化背景。他们的作品形式丰富多样,包括为美籍华裔说唱歌手 Bohan Phoenix 打造的互动性音乐视频、和音乐制作人 W.Y. Huang 合作的视觉冲击力强大的短片、与玩具设计工作室 Mighty Jaxx 联手创作的艺术雕像,以及与香港街头品牌 Dragonmade8 的联名设计等等。

Poster for Flow, an art figurine created with Mighty Jaxx
Flow, a collaborative art figurine between 18 Uppercut and Mighty Jaxx

The collective’s name comes from a mixture of references. “18” is a reference to late author Jin Yong’s “Eighteen Subduing Dragon Palms,” a fictional martial arts technique that’s referenced throughout his wuxia novels. “Jin Yong is a huge inspiration for us,” Gibson says. “Those of us who came from the East are very familiar with his magnificent tales of kung fu. While those who grew up in the West may not be as familiar with his novels, his influence on wuxia and the entire kung-fu genre were an extension of his genius that everyone, from both East and West, can appreciate.”

The latter part of the collective’s name is a Street Fighter reference: the character Sagat’s signature moves is the Tiger Uppercut, a spiraling jump punch that inflicts massive damage to an opponent. Pieced together, these two references paint a clear picture of what the group is all about: the first half represents an enduring adoration and respect for Chinese culture, while the second half is emblematic of the group’s swift and ruthless ascent into a creative force to be reckoned with.


团体名字蕴含了丰富的灵感来源。“18”取自已故武侠小说家金庸先生的“降龙十八掌”,这是他在武侠小说里虚构的一种武功。Pete 说:“金庸先生对我们影响很大。我们这些来自东方文化背景的人都非常熟悉他的武侠小说。虽然在西方长大的人可能不会那么熟悉,但他在武侠和功夫界的影响力足以说明他的才华,无论是在亚洲还是欧美国家,这一点都是公认的。”

团体名字“18 Uppercut“的后半部分则来自《街头霸王》:里面的角色沙加特(Sagat)的招牌动作就是“虎击上勾拳”(Tiger Uppercut),这是一个螺旋跳起击拳的动作,能对对手造成超强伤害。拼凑在一起,“18 Uppercut”让人对这支团队的理念有了大概的了解:一方面是对中国文化的崇拜和尊重,另一方面则象征团体将成为一支迅速飙升的创意势力。

Behind the scenes from the shoot of Bohan Phoenix's Overseas by Jedi Zhou
Behind the scenes from the shoot of Bohan Phoenix's Overseas by Jedi Zhou

 

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Behind the scenes from the shoot of Bohan Phoenix's Overseas by Jedi Zhou
Behind the scenes from the shoot of Bohan Phoenix's Overseas by Jedi Zhou

Gibson and Lee met serendipitously, a result of their respective (and rather unconventional) career trajectories. “Between the two of us we’ve served as a commando in the military, been a monk, worked as club promoters, poster designers, analysts at venture capital firms, producers, animators, and at one point, I even sold holiday cards in an arts-and-crafts store,” Gibson laughs.

But these unlikely career paths ultimately led the two to cross paths in 2016 when they both landed jobs at the same creative agency in Shanghai. There, their collegiality quickly grew into a tight-knit friendship. “We both wanted to do good work, and we knew what it took to make it,” Lee recalls. “We began to develop a mutual trust for one another when we recognized each other’s work ethic and accountability.”


Pete 和 Morris 的相识很偶然,是他们两人(相当不同寻常的)职业生涯轨迹的一个交点。“我们两个人中,做过突击队员,当过和尚、俱乐部发起人,做过海报设计师,还在风险投资公司做过分析师,担任过制片、动画师,我甚至还曾在美术工艺品店卖过节日贺卡。”Pete 笑着说道。

但是,正是这些看似毫无关联的工作,最终让两人在 2016 年相遇,当时他们都进了上海同一家创意广告公司工作。在那里,他们变成了亲密的好友。“我们都希望做好作品,也知道为此要付出什么样的代价。我们发现对方都特别有职业道德和责任感时,也开始对彼此有更多的信任。”Morris 回忆说。

Still from Dukkha
Still from Dukkha
Still from Dukkha
Still from Dukkha

Gibson and Lee’s time in advertising helped them acquire a diverse set of skills that play a large part in 18 Uppercut projects, but it’s their childhood interests that form the bedrock of their creative work. The duo cites a shared love for kung-fu movies, kaiju films, anime, and Western sci-fi flicks like Tron and Star Wars. And nowhere is this mishmash of influences more apparent than their most recent directorial work, Dukkha, a violent, neon-streaked video that pairs Chinese martial arts with an ominous score by DoHits producer W.Y. Huang. From a lightsaber battle to Kamehamehas shooting across the screen, the four-minute short is a love letter of sorts to some of the duo’s favorite works of fantasy. And recently, it was selected as a winner at New York’s One Screen Short Film Festival.


在广告公司的经历让 Pete 和 Morris 掌握了一手成熟技能,运用到 18 Uppercut 的项目里。但是,归根到底,真正让两人合作这个创意项目的原因是他们共同的童年爱好:功夫电影、怪兽电影、动画片,以及西方科幻电影,如《电子世界争霸战》(Tron)和《星球大战》(Star Wars)。团队最新创作的短片《Dukkha》最能体现这些丰富的影响。这部以中国功夫为主题的短片风格暴力,最近刚刚入选为纽约 One Screen Short Film Festival 的得奖影片之一,画面充满霓虹色彩,音乐部分由 DoHits 制作人 W.Y.Huang 创作。从激光剑战斗到龟派气功,这一部四分钟的短片是对两人所喜爱的科幻作品的致敬。

 

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Like their other projects, Dukkha was entirely self-initiated by Gibson and Lee. And perhaps this is a large factor in what makes all of their works stand out—it’s pure, unadulterated creative output that isn’t tainted by commercial incentives. The two, however, have expressed an interest in applying their creativity to branded work if the right project comes along.

“Money isn’t the driving factor of what we do,” Gibson notes. “We love doing these projects and getting to work together, but on the other hand, we do look forward to the day that we can put our all into it without having to squeeze it in around our other responsibilities or double check our bank accounts before agreeing to a project. What’s most important though, is that at the end of the day, we’re inspiring others to go out and create with a license to be original.”


和团队的其它项目一样,《Dukkha》完全是 Pete 和 Morris 自发性的作品。也许在很大程度上,这正是作品能脱颖而出的原因——纯粹的创意作品,完全未受商业利益的污染。然而,两人也表明了他们愿意与品牌合作,将创意挥洒在合适的项目上。

“钱不是我们做所有事情的动力。”Pete 说,“我们热爱做这些项目,喜欢一起工作,但另一方面,我们也期待有一天可以全心投入其中,不用在其它工作中挤时间,或是在准备开始项目前都要先查下银行余额是否有足够的钱。但最重要的是,我们能鼓舞更多人走出来,进行自由原创。”

Poster for Dukkha

Website: 18uppercut.com
Instagram: @18uppercut
WeChat: official18uppercut

 

Contributor: David Yen
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li


网站: 18uppercut.com
Instagram: @18uppercut
微信: official18uppercut

 

供稿人: David Yen
英译中: Olivia Li