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OBIT: Martial Master Lau Kar-leung (1936 - 2013) (TRAILER)

Thompson on Hollywood By David Chute | Thompson on Hollywood June 28, 2013 at 1:25AM

The pioneering martial arts choreographer and director Lau Kar-leung, who died this week at age 77, was a kung fu purist. Lau had a vivid imagination and great skill when it came to devising and staging fight sequences. In fact, Lau was a key figure in every phase of Hong Kong martial arts movie making.
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Lau Kar-leung with Jackie Chan on the set of "Drunken Master II"
Miramax Lau Kar-leung with Jackie Chan on the set of "Drunken Master II"

The pioneering martial arts choreographer and director Lau Kar-leung, who died this week at age 77, was a kung fu purist. 

He was a stylish martial acrobat but as a movie director he was not a great stylist. Unlike the other top action film directors who were his colleagues at Hong Kong's Shaw Bothers studio in the 1970s, such as Chang Cheh and Chor Yuen, Lau made violent masculine melodrama or elaborately staged magical conspiracies.

Lau had, however, a vivid imagination and great skill when it came to devising and staging fight sequences, and he was a sincere advocate for the Chinese martial arts themselves and of their cultural context, the traditional values of teacher-student fealty and family and clan loyalty inculcated by his father and first teacher, Lau Charn.

In fact, Lau was a key figure in every phase of Hong Kong martial arts movie making. He became a performer and a martial arts choreographer (or "fighting instructor") in the Wong Fei-hong films in the '50s, and in the 1960s, with collaborator Tang Chia, brought unprecedented martial authenticity to "New Style" Mandarin-language wu xia swordplay films such as "The Jade Bow" (1965).

This article is related to: Obit, Foreign


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.