Lau Kar-leung

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Lau Kar-leung
Born(1934-07-28)28 July 1934
Died25 June 2013(2013-06-25) (aged 78)
OccupationDirector, action choreographer, actor
Years active1953-2013
Mary Jean Reimer (m. 1984⁠–⁠2013)
ChildrenJeanne Lau (daughter)
Rosemary Lau (daughter)
RelativesLau Kar-wing (brother)

Hong Kong Film Awards

Golden Bauhinia Awards
  • Life Achievement Award
  • 2005 Lifetime Achievement

Golden Horse Awards
  • Best Martial Arts Direction
  • 1994 Drunken Master II
  • Best Action Choreography
  • 2005 Seven Swords

Chinese name
Traditional Chinese劉家良
Simplified Chinese刘家良
Musical career
Also known asLiu Chia-liang

Lau Kar-leung (28 July 1934 – 25 June 2013), also known as Liu Chia-liang, was a Hong Kong-based Chinese actor, filmmaker, choreographer and martial artist. Lau is best known for the films he made in the 1970s and 1980s for the Shaw Brothers Studio. One of his most famous works is The 36th Chamber of Shaolin which starred Gordon Liu, as well as Drunken Master II which starred Jackie Chan.


Before becoming famous, Lau worked as an extra and choreographer on black and white Wong Fei-hung movies. He teamed up with fellow Wong Fei-hung choreographer Tong Gaai [fr] on the 1963 Hu Peng-directed wuxia film South Dragon, North Phoenix. Their collaboration would continue on until the mid-1970s. His first appearance in a film was in Brave Lad of Guangong (1950).[1]

In the 1960s he became one of Shaw Brothers' main choreographers and had a strong working relationship with director Chang Cheh, working on many of Chang's films as a choreographer (often alongside Tong Gaai) including The One-Armed Swordsman, as well as other Shaw Brothers wuxia films, such as The Jade Bow. After a split with Chang on the set of Marco Polo, Lau evolved into a director during the sudden boom of martial arts films in the early 1970s. He occasionally did choreography work for non-Shaw films as well, such as Master of the Flying Guillotine.

After Shaw Brothers collapsed in the 1980s, Lau moved on and continued directing and choreographing films, among them Drunken Master II. However, the film's star Jackie Chan and director Lau clashed over the style of fighting, resulting in Lau leaving the set before the shooting of the final fight scene, which was then taken over by Chan.[2] Most recently, Lau performed acting and choreography work for Tsui Hark's 2005 film Seven Swords.

Mark Houghton opened the Lau Family Hung Kuen school Lau Family Hung Gar academy in Hong Kong / Fanling with the support of his sifu, Lau. He gave his disciple the permission to spread the art of Lau Family Hung Kuen to chosen students. There are already branches in England, Philippines, and China.

Collaborations with Gordon Liu[edit]

Lau's most frequent collaborator is likely his "god brother" Gordon Liu a.k.a. Chia Hui Liu, and he worked with Liu on a number of films, directing him as a star in the now classic The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978), as well as directing Liu as either a star or cast member in Dirty Ho (1976), Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter (1983), Executioners from Shaolin (1977), Return to the 36th Chamber (1980), Heroes of the East (1978), Legendary Weapons of China (1982), Disciples of the 36th Chamber (1985), Tiger on Beat (1988), Tiger on the Beat 2 (1990), Shaolin Warrior (1980), Spiritual Boxer II (1979), Cat vs Rat (1982), The Lady is the Boss (1983), My Young Auntie (1981), Challenge of the Masters (1976), Shaolin Mantis (1978), The Martial Club (1981), and Drunken Monkey (2003). They also appeared together as themselves in the Italian documentary "Dragonland" (2009, directed by Lorenzo De Luca).


Throughout his career, Lau only wrote four screenplays, but they were all for films that he himself directed. Those screenplays/films are My Young Auntie (1981), Legendary Weapons of China (1982), The Lady is the Boss (1983) and Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter (1983). All of the films also starred or featured Gordon Liu in some role or capacity.

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 2005, Lau won a "Best Action Choreography" award at the Golden Horse Award for his action choreography work on Tsui Hark's Seven Swords. He also won another Golden Horse Award in 1994, for "Best Martial Arts Direction" in the film Drunken Master II (or The Legend of the Drunken Master). In 1995, Lau also won a "Best Action Choreography" award at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his choreography in Drunken Master II and in 1997, the film won "Best Film" at the Fantasia Film Festival. Lau was also nominated for a "Best Action Choreography" Hong Kong Film Award in 2006 for his work on Tsui Hark's Seven Swords, and nominated in 1983 for a "Best Action Choreography" Hong Kong Film Award for his work on Legendary Weapons of China (1982), which he also directed and wrote.[3]

In 2010, Lau was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his contributions to the martial arts film genre.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Lau was the third child of Lau Cham (Lau Jaam, 劉湛), a martial arts master who studied Hung Gar under Lam Sai-wing, a student of Wong Fei-hung.[4] He has a brother who makes a living in the film industry, actor/choreographer Lau Kar-wing, as does Gordon Liu, Lau's pupil and adopted godson to Lau's father, Lau Cham. His nephew Lau Kar-yung (son of his older sister) is also an actor, choreographer and director. Another nephew, Lau Wing-kin (Lau Kar-wing's son) is also an actor, and assisted Lau Kar-leung with action-directing Seven Swords.

Lau's wife was Mary Jean Reimer, whom he married in 1984. One of Lau's former girlfriends is Kara Hui.[5]

Lau began training students Hung Gar before the age of 5 and was already quite proficient in the style. Bruce Lee treated Lau as an elder uncle and asked him for advice in regards to his film career.

Lau died on 25 June 2013 at Union Hospital, Hong Kong. He had been battling leukemia for two decades.[6]

Selected filmography[edit]

As a director[edit]

As a martial arts choreographer[edit]

Year Title Awards
1966 The Jade Bow
1967 One-Armed Swordsman
The Assassin
1968 Golden Swallow
1969 Return of the One-Armed Swordsman
1970 The Heroic Ones
1971 The New One-Armed Swordsman
The Anonymous Heroes
1972 Boxer From Shantung
The Water Margin
1973 The Blood Brothers
Police Force
1974 Heroes Two
Five Shaolin Masters
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires
1975 Master of the Flying Guillotine
Bloody Avengers
1976 Challenge of the Masters
1977 Executioners From Shaolin
1978 36th Chamber of Shaolin
Shaolin Mantis
Shaolin Challenges Ninja
1979 Mad Monkey Kung Fu
Dirty Ho
1980 My Young Auntie
Return to the 36th Chamber
Clan of the White Lotus
1982 Legendary Weapons of China Nominated - Hong Kong Film Award for Best Action Choreography
1984 Invincible Pole Fighter Nominated - Hong Kong Film Award for Best Action Choreography
1985 Disciples of the 36th Chamber
1992 Operation Scorpio
1994 Drunken Master II Hong Kong Film Award for Best Action Choreography
2002 Drunken Monkey
2005 Seven Swords Nominated - Hong Kong Film Award for Best Action Choreography

As an actor[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Todd Brown, Ten Essential Films From Lau Kar Leung, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2013-06-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Golden Shadows presents: Drunken Master 2. Sunday 1 September 2002, Melbourne
  3. ^ a b Karen Chu, Hong Kong Director and Martial Arts Master Lau Kar-leung Dies at 76,
  4. ^ Feature Article: Lau Kar-leung: from Brave Lad of Canton to Hero of the East
  5. ^ Kara Hui Ying-Hung Biography at the Hong Kong Movie DataBase
  6. ^ "Legendary Lau Kar Leung (Liu Chia Liang) Sifu is dead". Shaolin Wahnam Institute Virtual Kwoon and Discussion Forum. Retrieved 2016-02-19.