On January 7th, 2014, the martial arts world bid farewell to Hong Kong producer and philanthropist Sir Run Run Shaw. A well-known and respected name both in the world of martial arts movie fandom and Asia as a whole, Shaw was a keen philanthropist who donated billions of dollars to various charities, hospitals and schools throughout Hong Kong and mainland China. Thousands of buildings on Chinese college campuses carry Shaw’s Mandarin name, Yifu, and Hong Kong’s Shaw College was named in his honor after Shaw donated five hundred Hong Kong dollars to the Chinese University of Hong Kong toward the new college’s establishment. Among Shaw’s other notable acts of philanthropy include his donation of ten million pounds to Oxford University in 1990, which saw the establishment of the Run Run Shaw Institute of Chinese Affairs at the University, and thirteen million American dollars in aid after the Sichuan Earthquake of 2008. Shaw also established the Shaw Prize in 2002 for scientists in the fields of astronomy, mathematics, and life and medical science, and the award is widely viewed as the Far East equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Shaw is also is widely beloved and respected name in the realm of martial arts movie fandom. His establishment of the Shaw Brothers Studio in the late 1950’s, and the studio, which at the time was the largest in Hong Kong and for a time the whole of Asia, was responsible for many of the most enduring classics of martial arts cinema. Among the better known films of the Shaw Brother’s Library are “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” series, “The One-Armed Swordsman”, “Five Deadly Venoms”, “Heroes of the East”, “Five Elements Ninjas”, “Five Fingers of Death”, and “Martial Arts of Shaolin”, in addition to countless others. The Shaw Brothers studio also served as the launching pad for some of the most famed actors and directors in martial arts films, including Gordon Liu, Lau Kar-leung, Chang Cheh, Jimmy Wang Yu, Kara Hui, Ti Lung, and Chen Kuan-tai. Ironically, Shaw’s passing comes shortly before the Hong Kong release of the highly anticipated “Once Upon A Time In Shanghai”, a remake of the Shaw Brother’s film “The Boxer From Shantung”, whose leading man, Chen Kuan-tai, also appears in the remake. Sir Run Run Shaw’s contributions to the world of martial arts films are too great to measure, and his legacy as one of the titans of the genre will be treasured by fans across the world for years to come.