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Hong Kong filmmaker Ringo Lam Ling-tung, director of 1987’s City on Fire, found dead at 63

  • Lam, regarded as one of the best action movie directors of Hong Kong cinema’s ‘golden age’, was found dead at his Ma On Shan home
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 December, 2018, 11:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 December, 2018, 6:30pm

Influential Hong Kong director Ringo Lam Ling-tung, best known for the 1987 film City on Fire, has been found dead at his Ma On Shan home. He was 63.

Lam’s wife called an ambulance on Saturday afternoon after failing to wake him at their flat in Symphony Bay on Sai Sha Road at about 4.20pm.

The action film expert was confirmed dead at the property. Police found nothing suspicious.

A source said Lam had no major illnesses but had been suffering from flu in recent days and was taking medication without doctors’ advice.

Regarded as one of the best action movie directors of Hong Kong’s “golden age” of cinema in the 1980s and early 1990s, Lam began his directorial career with 1983’s supernatural romance Esprit d’amour.

His signature film, crime thriller City on Fire, starring Chow Yun-fat and Danny Lee Sau-yin, is one of local cinema’s most iconic gangster movies.

The picture earned him the title of best director at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 1988.

In 1987 he released another celebrated work, Prison on Fire, also starring Chow as well as Tony Leung Ka-fai.

The movie is remembered partly for the now-famous line: “I talk loud. Doesn’t mean I am rude, sir”, delivered by Chow, who played an inmate, in response to a prison warden.

A year later came School on Fire (1988) which was also a cinematic success.

Veteran local filmmaker Joe Cheung Tung-cho, honorary permanent president of the Hong Kong Film Directors’ Guild, said he was shocked and saddened to learn of Lam’s death.

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“The news came very suddenly. I’m grieving. He was a good director,” he said.

Lam had been healthy and appeared well when the pair met for dim sum a few months ago, Cheung added.

Hong Kong-born Lam was known in the industry for the demanding standards he placed on his film crew, Cheung said, which shone through in the car chases and other action scenes in his movies.

“He was not using technology, but real shooting techniques to overcome difficulties,” he said.

Lam’s filmmaking often depicted a bleak view of Hong Kong society and human nature, apparent in the roles played by Chow in the “on fire” pictures.

He directed more than 20 films in his career, the latest in 2016 titled Sky on Fire, starring Daniel Wu Yin-cho, Zhang Ruoyun, Zhang Jingchu and Joseph Chang Hsiao-chuan.

Lam was born in 1953. He graduated from St Peter’s Secondary School in the early 1970s before joining performing arts classes with local broadcaster TVB. In 1976 he became a writer and director.

He later emigrated to Canada where he studied filmmaking at York University in Toronto. He returned to Hong Kong in 1982 and joined production company Cinema City.

Cheung said the guild would discuss how to commemorate Lam.