Filmed in ShawScope!

by wjw on January 7, 2014

Run_Run_ShawSir Run Run Shaw, the quintessential Chinese movie mogul, has died at the venerable age of 106.

Run Run and his brother, Run Me (the names are Anglo-Chinese puns), shot their movies in Singapore beginning in the 1920s, and started a theater chain.  With the $4 million in gold they buried during the Japanese occupation, Run Run shifted his operation to Hong Kong following the Second World War.  At its height, Shaw Brothers released a movie a week, and controlled all aspects of the business: they shot on their own studio, with actors who lived in studio-owned apartment buildings next to the lot, then showed the movies in their own theaters.  Unlike a lot of theaters in Asia, Shaw Brothers theaters were pleasant places to spend your time: they were clean, they had first-rate equipment, and they showed the movies on time.

MV5BMTI2NTAwODAxOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTU1MjQxMw@@._V1_SY317_CR16,0,214,317_That ethic never quite stretched to the low-rent grindhouse theaters that showed Shaw Brothers movies in the States, but the flicks managed to influence directors like Tarantino anyway.

After Raymond Chow’s Golden Harvest company signed Bruce Lee and began to surpass Shaw Studios in both quality and box office, Sir Run Run shifted his focus mainly to television.  (Though he remained visionary enough to produce Blade Runner.)

Sir Run Run was also a generous philanthropist, and sometimes his philanthropy reached to the States— at one point he saved the Macys department stores from bankruptcy.

Sir Run Run recently lost control of his company as a result of the treachery of Rupert Murdoch— big surprise there!

To give you an idea of the Shaw Brothers state of the art, here’s the climactic scene from Heroes of the East, otherwise known as Shaolin Challenges Ninja.  Starring the immortal Gordon Liu and directed by Lau Kar-Leung, the movie is a romantic action comedy featuring Japanese martial artists imported to showcase their own styles.  (Not sure how much to credit the Crab Style depicted here, though.)

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