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Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Pioneering Hong Kong movie producer Of Run Run Shaw, Dies
Pioneering Hong Kong movie producer Run Run Shaw, whose studio popularized the kung fu genre that influenced Quentin Tarantino and other Hollywood directors, died Tuesday.
He was 107.
He was born near Shanghai to a wealthy textile merchant. One of his six siblings, elder brother Runme Shaw, set up a silent film studio, Unique Film Production Co. Shaw and a third brother, Runje, went to Singapore in 1923 to market films to southeast Asia's Chinese community and eventually opened 139 movie theatres across the region.
After surviving World War II, the company was faced with growing competition from rivals in Hong Kong and Singapore, so Shaw moved to Hong Kong in the late 1950s to modernize the company. He shifted focus from exhibiting films to producing them and renamed the company Shaw Brothers.
His path to Asian moviemaking dominance began in earnest in 1961 when he opened Movie Town, a vast, state-of-the-art studio in Hong Kong's rural Clearwater Bay. With 1,500 staff working on 10 soundstages, Movie Town was reputed to be the most productive studio in the world. At its busiest, actors and directors churned out 40 movies a year, most of them featuring kung fu, sword fighting or Asian gangsters known as triads.
The result was a library of nearly 1,000 movies such as The One Armed Swordsman and The Five Fingers of Death, the latter being one of Shaw's most successful in the United States. Shaw preferred to stay out of the spotlight and rarely gave interviews, even about his philanthropy.