Run Run Shaw, cofounder of the Shaw Brothers film production company, at one time the largest in Hong Kong, died in his home at the age of 106, according to the mogul's most recent company, Television Broadcasts Limited. Shaw was a pioneer of Chinese film and is considered the creator of the kung fu genre. Run Run opened Shaw Brothers studios in 1924, and by 1987, when film production was suspended to focus on the tv side of business, they had made more than 1,000 films. From the New York Times obituary:
Born in China, Mr. Shaw and his older brother, Run Me, were movie pioneers in Asia, producing and sometimes directing films and owning lucrative cinema chains. His companies are believed to have released more than 800 films worldwide.
After his brother's death in 1985, Mr. Shaw expanded his interest in television and became a publishing and real estate magnate as well. For his philanthropy, much of it going to educational and medical causes, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and showered with public expressions of gratitude by the Communist authorities in Beijing.
Mr. Shaw enjoyed the zany glamour of the Asian media world he helped create. He presided over his companies from a garish Art Deco palace in Hong Kong, a cross between a Hollywood mansion and a Hans Christian Andersen cookie castle. Well into his 90s he attended social gatherings with a movie actress on each arm. And he liked to be photographed in a tai chi exercise pose, wearing the black gown of a traditional mandarin.
Asked what his favorite films were, Mr. Shaw, a billionaire, once replied, "I particularly like movies that make money."
Though he eventually expanded into television, Shaw believed the film industry would always pay off for him. From the Hollywood Reporter obit:
Reflecting at the peak of his fame in 1976, Shaw told Time magazine that, "A small screen can never compare with a big screen. Movie houses will carry on. People like to go out, they like to be in a crowd … as long as the Chinese population in Asia is big, I will get back my investment. Besides, I make movies only for entertainment, never politics."
Anyone left groaning over an awkwardly inserted political message on tv or in a movie should appreciate that.
Courtesy of Youtube, here is the Shaw Brothers' 1972 classic Five Fingers of Death: