HONG KONG (AFP) ― The film pioneer hailed as the father of Hong Kong cinema, Run Run Shaw, died Tuesday at the age of 106.
Shaw, one of the co-producers of Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult hit “Blade Runner” and a score of martial arts films, passed away at home, according to Television Broadcast Ltd., which he helped founded.
The media mogul, who was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in 1977 for his public service as a long-time backer of the Red Cross, founded TVB in 1967.
Its sitcoms, variety shows and soap operas became immensely popular among the Chinese diaspora in southeast Asia, putting the former British colony on the global entertainment map.
Silver screen mega-stars such as Chow Yuen-fat, Tony Leung, Stephen Chow and Andy Lau all had their big breaks on TVB television dramas in the 1980s.
“With his vision and energy, he had built (TVB) to become Hong Kong’s premier television station and a world leader in the Chinese-language television industry,” TVB said in a statement.
Hong Kong’s chief executive Leung Chun-ying, leader of the city of seven million people, praised Shaw’s achievements in the entertainment industry.
“Sir Run Run Shaw has for a long time promoted the entertainment industry in Hong Kong, his philanthropy also has spread from Hong Kong to China and beyond. He is an elder that we very much respect,” Leung told reporters.
Shaw was born in Ningbo, in Zhejiang province in China, in November 1907.
With his elder brother Runme Shaw, he founded a film production house first in Shanghai in 1927, and later in Hong Kong.
Shaw Brothers Studio has since produced around 1,000 titles, including a score of kung fu films, with “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” and “Five Fingers of Death” hitting international theatres.
Shaw, whose movies were mostly in the Chinese language, failed to secure the legendary Bruce Lee in his production house following failed talks over renumeration.
Lee instead joined Golden Harvest, another Hong Kong-based production house founded by Shaw’s former subordinate, Raymond Chow, from where the martial arts film icon shot to international stardom.
Shaw is also the backer of the $1 million Shaw Prize, often referred as the Nobel Prize of Asia.
The prize, which entered its tenth year in 2013 saw three scientists whose groundbreaking studies using fruit flies helped to uncover the workings of the human biological clock named the winners, among others.
Shaw’s funeral will only be attended by family members, TVB said.