Lau Gaaloeng: Bullshido's Eulogy for a Kung Fu Legend
Legendary kung fu cinema stunt man, director, and actor, Lau Gaaloeng passed away this morning at Union Hospital in Hong Kong. He had been battling leukemia for many years.
Lau Gaaloeng got his start as a choreographer and stuntman in the early 1960s. His story is one of the entire rise of the kung fu film industry in Hong Kong. A Hung Ga practitioner, he began working on the classic black and white Wong Feihung serials, which told the legends of real life Hung Ga instructor and doctor of the same name, a role later popularized in the West by Jet Li. Lau began training in Hung Ga under his father at an early age. Lau's father had studied under Lam Saiwing, who was a student of Wong Feihung. This allowed Lau Gaaloeng to bring a sense of authenticity to the series.
He choreographed movies for King Hu before moving on to the Shaw Brothers in the 1970s. Behind the camera, Lau Gaaloeng was responsible for the choreography of so many classic kung fu films, including "Master of the Flying Guillotine" and "The One-Armed Swordsman", however, it was "36 Chambers of Shaolin" for which he and his adopted brother, Lau Gaafai, are possibly best known.
Later generations of kung fu fans would come to know him through Jackie Chan's "Drunken Master II". He attempted to revive classic kung fu cinema with 2002's "Drunken Monkey", a film which relied on no wire work and choreography based off of Hung Ga's techniques as opposed to modern wushu. His final work was 2005's "Seven Swords", which he starred in and choreographed.
Lau is survived by his adopted god-brother Lau Gaafai, his brother Lau Gaawing, his wife Mary Jean Reimer, his student Mark Houghton, and his other Hung Ga students.
He will be remembered with great affection by all true lovers of kung fu cinema.