Shaw Brothers Studio

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The Shaw Brothers Studio (Chinese: ????), owned by Shaw Brothers (HK) Ltd. SEHK: 0080, is the foremost and the largest movie production company of Hong Kong movies.[citation needed]

From their distribution base in Singapore where they founded parent company Shaw Organization in 1924, and as a strategic development of their movie distribution business in Southeast Asia, Sir Run Run Shaw (???) and his third brother Runme Shaw (???) founded South Sea Film (????) in 1930. It was later renamed Shaw Brothers Studio. The studio released Hong Kong’s first movie with sound«???»(which translates as “platinum dragon”, or one of the slang terms for a pistol) in 1934.

The Shaw Brothers studio is noted for directors King Hu, Lau Kar-leung and Chang Cheh. King Hu was an early director who is best remembered for his film Come Drink with Me, a martial arts film which differed from those of Chang Cheh in that it featured a capable female protagonist and revolved around romance in the martial arts world, rather than fast paced action and the tales of brotherhood which Chang Cheh would later popularize. Chang Cheh, who was more fond of the latter components, would go on to be Shaw Studios’ best known director, with such films as Five Deadly Venoms, Brave Archer (based on the works of Jin Yong), The One Armed Swordsman, and other classics of Wuxia and Wushu film. Almost equally as famous was fight choreographer turned director Lau Kar-leung, who would produce such highly regarded kung fu films as The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter.

Shaw Brothers was a studio which was modeled after the classic Hollywood system with hundreds of actors signed to exclusive contracts. While other studios rotated a good number of cast members, the Shaw Brothers assigned certain groups of actors to work exclusively with certain directors. The group from the 1978 release Five Deadly Venoms—who would become known by that namesake—were among the most memorable. These five were Lo Mang, Lu Feng, Sun Chien, Chiang Sheng and Kuo Chui, who had been stars in the Shaw studio for years, but did not become memorable faces until the Five Deadly Venoms. The “sixth Venom”, Wei Pai, who played the Snake in Five Deadly Venoms was also part of the Venom Mob which numbered over 15 actors which appeared in almost all of the Venom movies.

In the first half of the 1970s two other stars were particularly well known and favoured by Chang Cheh in his movies: Ti Lung and David Chiang. Ti Lung is considered one of the most, if not the most handsome martial arts actor to grace Shaw Studios, but is also accredited as a capable actor who reinforced his muscular glamour with strong characterisation over his many films. Chiang on the other hand was slight and wiry and often played sarcastic anti-hero to Lung’s standard archetype. In the middle of that decade the duo were overshadowed by the rise of Alexander Fu Sheng who had played supporting roles opposite them on many occasions. Fu was eventually killed in 1983 in a car accident, ending a brief but spectacular career.

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