Run Run Shaw, a Hong Kong movie producer who created one of the most successful international film studios ever, has died. Although some reports state Shaw’s age as 106, there are some outlets that reported his age as 107.
Shaw, born Shao Ren Leng near Shanghai into wealth, was one of six siblings. His older brother, Runme Shaw, was an early inspiration after he established the Unique Film Production Co., and the pair worked together.
Shaw and a third brother, Runje, traveled to Singapore in 1923 to promote films and eventually opened over 130 movie theaters across Southeast Asia region.The Shaw Brothers Studio was ambitious, but faced competition from other movie studios in Hong Kong and Singapore.
In the 1950s, Run Run Shaw moved from promoting films to producing them after a move to Hong Kong. By 1961, Shaw Brothers had the world’s largest privately owned film-production outfit. Movie Town, the sprawling complex that Shaw erected in Hong Kong’s Clearwater Bay, boasted 1,500 workers and produced 40 movies a year at its height.
In the end, the film house created well over 1,000 films, spanning Western-styled dramas, Triad gangster yarns, and Kung Fu movies. The studio tried to woo rising star Bruce Lee, but he instead joined rival studio,Golden Harvest after Shaw wouldn’t budge on a better contract. However, Shaw Brothers still managed to find some success in the United States, with the film Five Fingers Of Death being one of the more popular.
Shaw’s influence in the world of Hip-Hop was also notable, as many of his films formed the basis of music recorded by the Wu-Tang Clan and many others. The film The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin was prominently used in the Clan’s earlier work. Director Quentin Taratino also credits Shaw’s work as inspiration.
By the early 1980s, Shaw Brothers moved away from film production and instead moved to the world of television. In 1973, Shaw took over Hong Kong’s most popular station to this day, TVB, and launched the careers of stars Chow Yun-fat, Stephen Chow, Andy Lau and many others.
Shaw was a generous philanthropist who didn’t seek the limelight. There are several reports of his acts of kindness under strict orders to quell any publicity surrounding his actions. Shaw was awarded as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1974, and was later knighted in 1977.
After 44 years of work, Shaw retired from TVB in 2011 and later sold his 26 percent stake in the company for just over $6 billion.
No cause of death was given according to still developing reports, but there was news that Shaw passed away peacefully with his family
Shaw is survived by his wife Mona Fong Yat-wah, three sons, and two daughters.
Hit the jump to see a trailer for Five Fingers Of Death.
Photo: Campaign China