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HONG KONG – Shaw Brothers Studio owed recently-deceased film director and martial arts master Lau Kar-leung bonuses of up to $650,000 (HK$5 million) for his films at the studio in the 1970s, his widow claimed at his funeral in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
When announcing at the funeral service the establishment of the Lau Kar-leung Foundation to help film stuntmen who are injured or killed, Lau’s widow Mary Jean Reimer urged the head of Shaw Brothers, Run Run Shaw, to pay up the bonuses owed revered The 36th Chamber of Shaolin director as a contribution to the foundation, according to the Hong Kong’s Apple Daily.
Lau worked for Shaw Brothers in the 1960s as an action choreographer, most notably in the films of Chang Cheh (The One-Armed Swordsman). He made his directorial debut, The Spiritual Boxer, in 1975 for the studio.
According to reports in the 1970s unearthed by Ming Pao Daily, Lau signed a contract with Shaw Brothers at the time that stipulated he should have been given a bonus of $15,000 (HK$120,000) for The Spiritual Boxer, which grossed $180,000 (HK$1.4 million) and was the seventh highest grossing film of 1975; and a bonus of $570,000 (HK$440,000) for The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, which grossed over $385,000 (HK$3 million) in 1978. But his widow said he never received any bonus from Shaw, which would amount to “if not HK$50 million then at least HK$5 million” in today’s money, she said.
Reimer said she has the original contract as proof.
Shaw Brothers director Lawrence Wong declined to comment on the issue, and told local press that Shaw Brothers has been just in all its undertakings.
Lau, a beloved martial artist, action choreographer and film director within the Hong Kong industry, died in June following a two-decade battle with cancer. He was 76.
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