SINGAPORE: Hong Kong movie producer Raymond Chow Man-wai – who brought Jackie Chan and martial arts legend Bruce Lee into the spotlight – died at the age 91 on Friday (Nov 2), according to Hong Kong media reports.
Born in Hong Kong in 1927, the movie mogul and founder of Golden Harvest brought big names like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Hong Kong comedic trio the Hui brothers to the international stage.
Widely regarded as the “godfather” of the Hong Kong film industry, Chow is believed to have produced more than 600 films across various genres, reported the South China Morning Post.
Before founding Golden Harvest, Chow was the chief executive of Shaw Brothers Pictures before he eventually left in 1970, according to news site HK01.
Following his departure, Chow went on to work with Bruce Lee.
At the time, Lee had made it big in the US after playing Kato in the Green Hornet, the Hong Kong website said.
Shaw Brothers had initially invited Lee to star in movies in Hong Kong, but the company eventually declined to meet Lee’s demands, which included a minimum budget for the film and the right to amend the script.
Chow saw an opportunity and sent a representative to the US to invite Lee to Hong Kong, said HK01.
The first film Lee starred in, The Big Boss (1971), was so successful, it broke box office records in Hong Kong at the time. He went on to make kungfu classics like Fist of Fury (1972) and Way of the Dragon (1972).
Among Chow’s notable achievements – putting Jackie Chan among the ranks of Hollywood heavyweights like Burt Reynolds and Farrah Fawcett in the hugely successful Cannonball Run (1981), said the Hollywood Reporter.
The firm produced most of the movies by Chan and Sammo Hung in the 1980s.
Golden Harvest also produced the Once Upon a Time in China series in the 1990s which shot Chinese kungfu star Jet Li to fame.
Chow went into semi-retirement in 2007 after selling his share of Golden Harvest and has kept a low profile since, said Apple Daily.
Now known as Orange Sky Golden Harvest. the firm owns Singapore cinema chain Golden Village, after buying over last year the 50 per cent share that was owned by its former business partner, Australia’s Village Roadshow.