Kiai-Kick All Star #3: Sir Run Run Shaw (1907-2014)
This is a special Kiai-Kick All Star as I had this spot meant for someone else, but after his death, who else could it be? Barely any of the films I’ve seen or reviewed could’ve existed without what Sir Run Run Shaw created with his brother Runme. They single-handedly created the template for just about every martial arts film ever made, and brought news stars out of the woodwork like David Chiang, Alexander Fu Sheng, Ti Lung, Cheng Pei Pei, Chen Kuan Ti, Jimmy Wang Yu, Lo Lieh, Gordon Liu, and of course brought us the greatness of Chang Cheh and his costumed operas.
It was the films of the Shaw Brothers that first brought me attention at a very young age to the genre of Kung-Fu Films, and my love for them only grew stronger the more I watched, and marveled at the Heroic Bloodshed films, and their films featured heroics not seen since Douglas Fairbanks and villains of the first order (White Hermit, anyone?). Like early westerns, there were no shades of gray in most Shaw Brother films. The baddies were bad. The good guys were honorable, and you never walk down a dirt road for fear of getting jumped.
Not only did Sir Run Run Shaw help move the genre of kung-fu films into the international mainstream, but he also produced one of my all-time favorite films:
I have no idea how he became involved with the production of this film, but it just adds to his legend, which is what Sir Run Run Shaw is. His marketing of kung-fu films is nothing short of genius, and the purchase of the Shaw Brother studios, a large acreage that no one wanted, was another genius move that allowed them to churn out film after films, usually several being shot at once. Other than King Hu films, there would be no competition until Golden Harvest and their star Bruce Lee took the world by storm, but none of that happens if the Shaw Brothers weren’t successful.
There can be no greater thing I can do to honor Sir Run Run Shaw than to name him the newest All-Star, a true legend, every bit the legend as the heroes and villains whose exploits he produced.