Lingnan Hung Kuen: Kung Fu in Cinema and Community
For so many around the world, it was in the cinema that they saw their first glimpse of martial arts. Through the films of Lau Kar Leung, among others, they came to appreciate the power and skill of many kung fu techniques. However devotees and practitioners of kung fu and Hung Kuen were aware of the much longer tradition of these arts and in particular, the contribution of both the Lam family and the Lau family.
In 2009 the Hong Kong Government endeavoured to identify and recognize forms of intangible cultural heritage. It was this awareness of a vibrant part of Hong Kong history and culture which led to the creation of the Hong Kong Martial Arts Living Archive, and from this the exhibition, Lingnan Hung Kuen Across the Century: Kung Fu Narratives in Hong Kong Cinema and Community. In the exhibition and this companion book, the histories of the Lam and Lau families are traced, and their role in preserving and creating new stances and forms and bringing Hung Kuen to a wider audience through the medium of film. Using the latest technologies including 3D imagery, the work of past masters has been here brought back to life.
The exhibition is a celebration of Hong Kong kung fu masters of the Lingnan Hung Kuen school, who have made significant contributions to the development of Chinese martial arts and kung fu cinema around the world. In this regard, we are particularly grateful to the Lam and Lau families, who generously shared their knowledge, as well as personal memories, photographs and videos, and allowed the curators to tap into their rich family traditions. A special note of thanks is due to Master Lam Chun Fai, the current head of the Lam family Hung Kuen school and president of Lam Sai Wing Hung Kuen Research Society, and Mary Reimer, wife of the late kung fu master and film director Lau Kar Leung and director of Lau Kar Leung Film Boxing Director Charitable Foundation Limited. Both provided much needed guidance during the planning and execution of the exhibition and book. The materials presented in the first two chapters are drawn from the repository of knowledge of these two great kung fu families, who also provided the images for the corresponding chapters. We are also indebted to Mark Houghton, Lau Kar Leung's disciple and successor, for his kind assistance. We would also like to extend our thanks to Oscar Lam, fourth generation master of the Lam family, and Jeanne Lau, Lau Kar Leung's daughter, for their participation and contribution. It has been a joy and an honour to bring these two legendary kung fu families together, and we look forward to watching how their interwoven stories unfold in the future.
Neither the exhibition nor the present book would have been possible without the support of Celestial Pictures Limited, who granted us the license to use original film posters, video clips and images from four iconic films made by Lau Kar Leung between 1975 and 1984 — Challenge of the Masters (1976), The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1977), Martial Club (1981), and The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1983). Visuals from these four films provide the substance for Chapter Three and a significant portion of Chapter Two. Taking this opportunity, we would also like to thank Juliana Wong, distribution director of Celestial Pictures Limited, and Josephine Ng, formerly manager of distribution and marketing of Celestial Pictures Limited, who assisted us every step along the way.
We are grateful to director Shu Kei and Professor Richard Allen for sharing their unique insights and critical perspectives on Lau Kar Leung's kung fu films, which significantly enriched both the exhibition and the present book.
Ernie Wolfe III kindly loaned his wonderful collection of Ghanaian kung fu posters from the golden period of Ghanaian poster art from the 1980s to 1999. These posters are the subject of Chapter Four.
1. Legacy of Lam Family Hung Kuen Hing Chao
2. Lau Kar Leung's Hung Kuen Cinema: A Martial Arts Perspective Hing Chao
3. The Paradoxes of Tradition: Lau Kar Leung at Shaw Brothers Richard Allen
4. The Golden Age of Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana