BURBANK, CA – Run Run Shaw, one of pioneers for opening the doors of the kung fu to the West, died Tuesday at the age of 106, according to a statement from Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), a company which he helped found.
The Shaw Brothers film studio, which he created with his brother Runme, ushered in a new era of martial arts films that changed Hollywood and the rest of the world in the late 1960s and 1970s. The studio nurtured a number of rising stars including Alexander Fu Sheng, Chen Kwan Tai, Ti Lung, David Cheung and many more, long before Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee captured international attention.
The kung fu movie boom not only impacted the way Hollywood addressed action films, it also launched the biggest explosion of martial arts studios across the world. “Billy Jack was the key and the Shaw Bros. films was the door that inspired our generation. I recall when the kung fu movies first came out, we had to practice in the parking lot because there were too many new students enrolling,” notes Martial Arts History Museum president, Michael Matsuda.
Altogether, the Shaw Bros. Library released over 760 titles, which is today operated by Hong Kong-based Celestial Pictures.
Shaw received a knighthood from the British government in 1977 and was awarded Hong Kong’s top honor the Grand Bauhinia Medal from the new Hong Kong SAR government in 1998.
“In the early 1970s, we couldn't wait until the next Shaw Bros. Film came out in one of the Los Angeles Chinatown theaters. We were there every week,” notes Chinese kung fu pioneer Douglas Wong.
Today, filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino and Rza payed homage to the studio through their films “
Kill Bill” and “Man with the Iron Fists.”
“Five Fingers of Death,” which became the catalyst of the Shaw Bros. films, led the way in flooding American cinema with Hong Kong-based productions. “Five Fingers was my inspiration and Bruce Lee launched me into directing martial arts films,” notes action film director Art Camacho.
Today, the Martial Arts History Museum keeps the Shaw Bros. history alive and also includes a bronze bust of one of the Shaw Bro.'s biggest stars, Alexander Fu Sheng, whose life was cut short at the height of his career.
“The history and legacy of Run Run Shaw will continue for many generations to come. It's impossible to find a fight scene today that doesn't use martial arts, especially kung fu,” adds Matsuda. “We've lost a giant this week.”
The Martial Arts History Museum is located at 2319 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91506. MAmuseum.com.
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