The film world was in mourning last night after kung fu master and filmmaker Lau Kar-leung died yesterday at the age of 76.
It followed a two-decade struggle with lymphatic cancer which had left Lau in a coma since Monday.
His second wife, actress Mary Jean Reimer, and their two daughters, were with him when he died at Union Hospital in Tai Wai in the morning.
Reimer, 49, wrote on her Facebook page: "He passed away peacefully and went to heaven in my embrace. Many friends, children, brothers and children of cousins witnessed his last moments … I'm heartbroken and crying, with tears of blood. I don't dare to look back at the memories. I'm in pain!"
The hospital's consultant respiratory physician, Dr Thomas Li Sing-tao, said he suffered from respiratory failure as a result of pneumonia.
Reimer and her daughters will move into a Buddhist nunnery today to mourn her husband.
Actor Nat Chan Pak-cheung, who will organise the funeral, said: "He was tough, open-minded and energetic. He lived a life without regrets and didn't have any unfulfilled wishes."
Lau worked his way up from stuntman to movie director. He was leader of the "Lau Brothers", a family of martial arts practitioners that defined the city's film industry in the 1960s.
His father learned from Lam Sai-wing, a disciple of legendary kung fu master Wong Fei-hung.
In 2010, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Hong Kong Film Awards, acknowledging his excellence in works such as kung-fu-themed Men From the Monastery and Jackie Chan's Drunken Master II.
His battle with illness began back in 1994, when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, said Lau's long-time doctor Tony Mok Shu-kam.
"After he joined the production of Seven Swords [in 2005 as an actor and action director] he suffered from pneumonia and water in the lungs," Mok said. "There were rumours that he could die … He never told me about going to Tianshan [in Xinjiang ] for filming. If he had, I would never have allowed it."
A Buddhist ritual will be held at a Hung Hom funeral parlour before Lau's cremation, and his ashes will be interred in Pok Fook Hill Cemetery, Chan said.