Hailed as 'The Undisputed Martial Arts King' in Bey Logan's "Hong Kong Action Cinema," Lau Kar Leung is legendary among his filmmaking peers. Unfortunately, due to the Shaw Brothers' refusal to re-release their kung fu movies in Asia, his work is not very well-known to younger audiences. Over more than four decades, Lau has distinguished himself as, variously, an actor, martial arts choreographer and director. Contemporary HK audiences know him best for his work on "Drunken Master 2" (1994), in which he acted as well as directed. This film was Jackie Chan's first straight kung fu film in over a decade. Both aging auteurs had something to prove--and they did beyond anyone's wildest expectations. "Drunken Master 2" became the highest grossing kung fu film in recent history. Lau was back on the A-list of HK action directors.
Lau played bit roles and worked as a stuntman in Cantonese martial arts films throughout the 1950s. He graduated to martial arts choreographer at the Shaw Brothers studio and, in collaboration with prolific director Chang Cheh, dominated the studio's kung fu film output from the mid-70s on. He segued to directing with "The Spiritual Boxer" (1975), perhaps the first HK film to mix magic, humor and kung fu. Lau's work was characterized by a realistic approach to the martial arts. Indeed, many of his films were explicitly concerned with the development of specific martial arts. His career faltered a bit with the demise of the Shaw studio but he remained a respected presence in the industry.
Lau is the eldest son of actor/martial artist Lau Charn, brother to actor/martial artist Lau Kar Wing, half-brother to stuntman/martial artist Lar Kar Yung and "adopted" brother of actor Lau Kar Fai.
Director (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Film Production - Main (Feature Film)
Stunts (Feature Film)
Film debut, "The Brave Lad of Canton"
Parted with Chang during the filming of "Marco Polo" in Taiwan
Feature directorial debut, "The Spiritual Boxer", arguably the first HK feature to combine comedy, magic and martial arts (subsequently a popular sub-genre)
Filmed his own intrerpretation of the Wong Fei Hung story--a popular series of kung fu films in which his father had starred--with "Challenge of the Masters"; first film to depict the character as a young man; cast his (informally adoptive) "brother" Lau Kar Fai as Wong Fei Hung
Sole appearance in a horror film, "Evil Cat"; film flopped
After the demise of the Shaw Bros. studio as a filmmaking entity and the decreased populariy of historical kung fu films, enjoyed a major hit as the helmer of "Tiger on the Beat", a contemporary tough cop comedy-thriller
Made major commercial comeback as the helmer of "Drunken Master 2", a hugely successful Jackie Chan kung fu vehicle (also acted)