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Legendary Lau Kar Leung (Liu Chia Liang) Sifu is dead

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  • Legendary Lau Kar Leung (Liu Chia Liang) Sifu is dead

    On June 25 legendary kung fu movie maker and Hung Gar Master Lau Kar Leung (Liu Chia Liang in Mandarin) died after fighting leukemia for around 20 years. It's very sad that a great kung fu master has to die so early.

    Within the movie world, among kung fu and martial arts practitioners and admirers he was considered the Best of the Best in kung fu movie fight choreography and even as a kung fu movie director.

    He was responsible for such classics like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (and its two sequels), The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, Legandary Weapons of China, Heroes of the East, Martial Club, Executioner from Shaolin, Challenge of the Masters, Shaolin Mantis, Dirty Ho, Shaolin Temple 3 (aka Martial Arts of Shaolin with Jet Li), Drunken Master 2 (aka Legend of the Drunken Master with Jackie Chan) and many more. He was involved in more than hundred movies/series, mostly kung fu movies, in different roles, ranging from Stuntman, Stunt Coordinator, Fight Choreographer/Fighting Instructor to Assistant Director, Director, Writer, Producer and Actor. Starting as a young teen, he was active in the movie industry for more than fifty years!

    He's the son and student of Lau Jan who was a student of Lam Sai Wing who was a student of the legendary folk hero Wong Fei Hung. His mother was well-versed in Wing Chun.

    What makes him exceptional is that he was the only real kung fu Master in the movie industry. Chang Cheh's (the Godfather of kung fu movies and premier Director of the legendary Shaw Brothers Studio) success was only possible with the help of Lau Kar Leung Sifu and Tang Chia (Tong Gai in Mandarin). This two choreographed most of the fights (often together) in Chang Cheh's movies.

    Lau Kar Leung Sifu was not only excellent in choreographing fights, he was also a capable director and actor. Only together with his skilfull handling of the camera his elaborate, exact, fluent and powerful fight choreography was possible. He was a trustworthy, responsible, hard-working perfectionist. Altough authorative, strict and meticulous, he was a good person at heart and always patient with the actors and actresses who often didn't had any kung fu or martial arts background. He had a special talent to make them look good despite their shortcomings.

    Whereas most kung fu movies are about bloody vengeance, Lau Kar Leung Sifu, when he finally directed himself, gave the kung fu genre an new twist with Comedy elements and alternative ends to the usual bloody vengeance. In fact, he not only preceded Jackie Chan with dangerous stunts, he also preceded him with kung fu Comedies and paved the way for Jackie Chan's gigantic career. He also gave his movies some depth with hints at Shaolin values (often portraying legendary real Shaolin folk heroes), traditional Chinese culture, arts, customs and traditions and the depiction of real historical events.

    Even after the traditional kung fu movie died out in the early/mid 80', he wasn't done. Intelligently, he adapted to the modern day action movie with quality works such as Tiger on Beat (as Director; with Chow Yun-Fat) and Seven Swords (as Actor and Fight Choreographer; directed by Tsui Hark).

    In a time where CGI (computergenerated imagery), digital effects, SFX (special effects) are available in abundance and multiple digital cameras are the norm, it's heartwarming and awe-inspiring to watch a Lau Kar Leung movie with its complicated, beautiful and lengthy fights (with up to more than fifty movements in one single take!), completely hand-made, with only one camera, in real speed, the details clearly visible, with no special effects and with only very little wire work! In comparison, today, despite the progress in movie technics, a simple fight with a few punches and a kick is already considered as very hard work. And even such a short fight is often cutted into several takes!

    If kung fu movies (also named Eastern in the West) would have the same international recognition as their counterparts, Western, Lau Kar Leung Sifu surely would be ranked on the same level as the legendary Western Directors such as John Ford, John Sturges, Sam Peckinpah, Howard Hawks, Anthony Mann and Sergio Leone (Italo-Western).

    Alongside, as a heir to an authentic Hung Gar lineage, tracing back to Wong Fei Hung, he also had the responsibility to continue the lineage and to teach the next generation his Lau Family Hung Gar.

    With deep respect and admiration I send my blessings to the great Lau Kar Leung Sifu!

    To remember him, I have chosen his fight against Jackie Chan in Drunken Master 2 (aka Legend of the Drunken Master)

  • #2
    and here's part 2 of the fight:


    • #3
      Yes, it came out in the Chinese news a few weeks ago, and I meant to post it straightaway (especially thinking of you, Ronny), but I lost access to the forum for a week weeks due to some software issues.

      My personal favourite when it comes to directors is Yuen Woo Ping, but Lau Sifu comes in pretty close. There goes another icon. Sigh!
      Persevere in correct practice