Who is Run Run Shaw some of you may ask. Well, if you went to Chinese kung-fu movies at Liberty Theater, then later at Empress Theater back in the 70’s – then surely you know who Run Run Shaw is.
Maybe this will ring a bell?
Run Run Shaw was a Hong Kong entertainment mogul and philanthropist. He was one of the most influential figures in the Asian entertainment industry. He founded the Shaw Brothers Studio, one of the largest film production companies in the world, and Television Broadcasts Limited, the dominant television company in Hong Kong.
I remember all too well going to “Chinese movies” with my friends. The movie backdrops were cheesy, the furniture always shattered into a million pieces, and the courtyard where the big finale always looked the same. But it didn’t matter. We were entertained by the kung-fu moves and the skill with the weapons.
I especially enjoyed the movies when they had a kung-fu chick. Dressed all pretty with her hair all made up with little pins stuck in it. And sometimes, the hair pins would become her weapon of choice as she suddenly flies it though the air to pierce the forehead of the enemy spy eavesdropping behind sliding paper door.
Oh yeah! That’s what I’m talking about.
But sometimes I was so busy reading the subtitles, that I didn’t get to see all the action or notice the elaborate costumes.
And the theaters. Remember Liberty Theater? When you walk down the bare cement aisles, your rubber slippers make that crackling sound from sticking to years and years of spilled snacks on the floor. I remember my brother telling me that at the end of the movies when everyone gets up, if you look good – you can see all the rats running under the seats to the stage area. We often sat with our feet up on our chair.
Then they moved over to the Empress Theater. I remember that Empress Theater had a upper level – that was always closed. And the candy in the case must’ve been like 6 months old. We didn’t dare eat or drink anything from that snack bar. But I did used to buy a Chinese kung-fu star magazine every now and then – just for the pictures because the magazine was all in Chinese.
I remember looking in the daily newspaper’s Entertainment section every Tuesday or Wednesday to see what new Chinese movie was playing. Heck, one time we even went to see a David Chiang and Agnes Chan drama. What was the name of that show…
I found it!
Thank you Run Run Shaw for all the hours of entertainment that you provided us. Your movies were so much a part of my life growing up. And your movies inspired so many others – including John Woo and Quentin Tarantino.
Let’s honor Run Run Shaw by sharing your memories of Chinese kung-fu movies. Or the theaters they used to play at. Or even the late night Kung-Fu Theater movies that were dubbed in English (boo.).