Veteran martial arts filmmaker Chang Cheh, mentor to kung fu film superstar Bruce Lee and action director John Woo, has died at the
age of 79, newspapers reported Sunday.
Chang died of pulmonary disease in a hospital Saturday morning, according to several Chinese-language newspapers in Hong Kong. Born in 1923 in mainland China, Chang was one of the most distinguished filmmakers in Hong Kong during the 1960s and 1970s. He was scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award at this year's Hong Kong Film Awards but did not attend the ceremony due to his poor health condition. In his place, Michael Hui Kwoon-Man accepted the accolade while Jimmy Wang Yu and other actors from the "Chang Cheh acting troupe" attended to show their support. John Woo, who at one time worked as an assistant director under Chang, appeared via a taped segment to pay tribute to his mentor.
Chang Cheh directed well over 50 kung fu films during his prime including The Boxer from Shantung,The One-Armed Swordsman and The Wandering Swordsman. Director John Woo serves as assistant director to Chang Cheh in several films like Blood Brothers early in his career and fondly regards Chang Cheh as one of his biggest influences in his career.
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