Dojo Tribute #1: Lau Kar Leung
Lau Kar Leung is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, kung fu film directors and choreographers. Lau Sifu (Teacher Lau) passed away June 25, 2013 after a battle with leukemia. As a fan of kung fu movies since age 6 (I am now 40) Lau Sifu , in my opinion, is THE best choreographer and director of pure kung fu films. As a Master of the Hung Gar style of kung fu and a lineage descendant of the famous Wong Fei Hong Lau Sifu brought an authenticity to the fight scenes he choreographed for Shaw director Chang Che and the fight direction of his own movies. A man of many talents Lau Sifu was also a stunt man for many years on the black and white Wong Fei Hong movies (starring Kwan Tak Hing) and became noticed due to his excellent kung fu and fearlessness. The perspectives of being an authentic martial artist and a stunt player (along with a natural innate talent) gave Lau Sifu a unique perspective in the kung fu film world. His eye for detail in fight scene direction is a thing of beauty.
Lau Sifu also had a talent for bringing out the best in his troupe of actors and actresses. Names like Gordon Liu (Lau Kar Fai), Kara Hui Ying Hung, Hsiao Hu ( Mad Monkey Kung fu), and Wang Lung Wei never looked more accomplished than in a Lau Kar Leung directed movie! Lau Sifu’s commitment to perfection is evident in Martial Club where Gordon Liu and Wang Lung Wei duel in an alley way that gets smaller as the fight goes on. Lau Sifu was a man of extraordinary vision and always showed the art of kung fu in a positive light.
As a kung fu film fan, I grew up watching Lau Sifu’s classics not realizing the positive effect they would have on my life. As a young man I could relate to the maturation process of a young Wong Fei Hong, played by Gordon Liu, learning the lessons of life and becoming a mature man. I could feel the sadness and anger of Liu Yu Ter and cheered when he became Monk San Ter after the rigorous training in the 35 chambers of Shaolin! Lau Sifu brought joy, laughter, hope, and inspiration to me and countless others through his wonderful movies that transcended the kung fu genre to become timeless classics of cinema.
Thank you, Lau Sifu!!!!!! 照顾老师! (Take care, Teacher!)
1. 36th Chamber of Shaolin
2. Martial Club
3. My Young Auntie
4. 8 Diagram Polefighter
5. Dirty Ho
6. Heroes of the East
7. Executioners from Shaolin
8. Spiritual Boxer
9. Lady is the Boss
10. Disciples of the 36th Chamber