The end of a Hong Kong era with death of the man who gave us Bruce Lee
On November 2, Raymond Chow Man-wai, acclaimed film producer and former chairman of the legendary Hong Kong film studio Golden Harvest, died at the age of 91 (“Raymond Chow, film producer who brought world Bruce Lee, dies at 91”).
Chow started his career as a journalist, before going on to work as a producer. He was chief executive at Shaw Brothers Pictures before he left to co-found his own studio, Golden Harvest. Soon after, he signed Bruce Lee to play the lead character of his debut martial arts film The Big Boss. Altogether there were five movies in the series, but Lee died in 1973 at the age of 32 before the final one, The Game of Death, could be completed.
In my opinion, a true successor to Bruce Lee has yet to be found in the realm of martial arts films. In Bruce Lee’s films, you cannot miss his signature rapid sideways kicks as well as his prowess with the nunchucks, categorised at the time as a lethal weapon and banned in some countries.
Bruce Lee’s shocking and premature death would have been a searing memory for Chow, possibly to his last day. The super-stardom Lee achieved in his short life made Chow’s movies more valued and memorable.
Legendary Hong Kong producer dies at 91
Thinking back, without Chow’s discerning eye, film-goers the world over would have been deprived of witnessing the greatness not only of Bruce Lee but also of other international film legends from Hong Kong, like Jackie Chan, also a Chow discovery who became a Golden Harvest star after Lee’s death. The death of Chow therefore definitely marks the end of an era and is a great loss to the film industry of Hong Kong.
Randy Lee, Ma On Shan