Extremely sad news to wake up to today, Hong Kong media reports that martial artist, director, and actor Lau Kar Leung has passed away, following a long bout with cancer. Part of the martial arts lineage of Wong Fei Hung, Lau was director and/or actor on over 70 films. Prolific in his time at the fabled Shaw Bros. Studios, Lau would mentor numerous martial arts stars including; Gordon Liu, Hou Hsiao, Kara Hui, and Alexander Fu Sheng, among others. Probably best known for directing films like 36 Chambers of Shaolin, Heroes of the East, Martial Club, and Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, he would appear on screen in just as many roles. As he retreated from the world of film for health issues, his impact was nonetheless great, even to this day.
As I’m writing this short little piece that hardly does this great man justice, I am watching his work on Legendary Weapons of China. What strikes me most is his charisma and sheer screen presence. Not only does he have incredibly formidable martial arts skills, but damn if he doesn’t command the screen. In this day and age where there are fewer and fewer real martial artists in HK movies, this is a major blow. Lau Kar Leung will be sorely missed and though he may no longer be with us, his legacy and the commitment he brought to work, will forever exist on film. So take a second and watch a few of his films in honor of the man, and marvel at his greatness, we’ve lost another great one. –Cesar