And it shouldn’t be too long now…

One memorable moment in Sir Run Run Shaw’s later life – the only part of it most of us mere kids have lived through – came in a press interview. The venerable movie mogul was asked which of the 1,000 or so films his studios had produced was his favourite. His instant reply: “The one that made the most money.” He could get away with that. Like having starlets on each arm in his 90s, or founding the quasi-Nobel Shaw Prize, he did amusing kitsch rather than sour cynicism.

He didn’t make his fortune by ripping everyone off. He didn’t pretend all those movies and, later, TV shows had artistic merit; they were cheap and cheerful and churned out to satisfy easily-amused Southeast Asians and what we now call ‘New Hongkongers’. He didn’t short-change customers: if a film was advertised as 60 minutes long, it lasted a whole hour. While he no doubt enjoyed the benefits of industry dominance, he doesn’t seem to have depended on rigged markets or collusion with government.

He would warrant all the glowing eulogies anyway (they are pouring in from the world over). But in Hong Kong, the lavish front-page praise is double-edged, alluding to a vivid contrast. Run Run Shaw created much of the popular culture of our age, from kung fu to TVB to Blade Runner, to name just a fraction of all the silly but harmless fun. He gave people stars and fantasies and laughs, which they will remember fondly throughout their lives. The unspoken comparison is with our humourless property tycoons – peddlers of real-estate pyramid schemes with their supermarket, energy and other monopolies. Their main contribution seems to have been a ruinous, speculative instant-money ethos. When they go, they will be remembered only for taking.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to And it shouldn’t be too long now…

  1. Nexus 6 says:

    I’ve… seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like tears… in… rain. Time… to die…

    Farewell Sir Run Run.

  2. Jing says:

    Thanks Nexus! Love that scene.

    Didn’t know that Sir Run Run was behind Blade Runner. He deserves
    the hero treatment for that alone.

  3. maugrim says:

    Glad to see all the Blade Runner fans, the film is a true classic that he lost money on.

  4. Colonelkurtz says:

    Continuing the Bladerunner theme, you could liken awakened HKers with their newfound disgust with property tycoons to Roy crushing the head of the founder of the Tyrell corporation unimpressed with his trade off of replicants’s 4 year life span for “burning so brightly” while alive.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    How did Runny get all those white-looking grandchildren ?

  6. reductio says:

    @Nexus 6 et al

    Nice to see some culture vultures here. Still remember that scene first time I saw it and it still chokes me up. Good for you Run Run!

  7. Oneleggoalie says:

    Joanna Cassidy…first white woman with small boobies Oneleg pulled one to…

    R.I.P. Sir Horny.

  8. Chopped Onions says:

    “It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?”

  9. Gumshoe says:

    Lots of chaff to sort through to get to the gems in the SB catalog, but at least he is responsible for some classic genre films that some film makers are still attempting to match.

  10. Pornstar Wong says:

    You can still see his films on NOW TV. Channel 148. I also remember crossing paths with what I believe was his all-white stretch limo on Bowen Road – numberplate 4444.

  11. Pornstar Wong says:

    I’m sure a lot of the films starred former opera singers. You can tell by the way they hold themselves when they are not speaking. The choreography was also brilliant and the director was always very careful about the choice of colours. For some reason, the main female protaganist usually wears orange – or lives in a flat which has orange curtains. I’m sure I could do a PhD thesis called “Sir Run Run Shaw and the use of Orange”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *