Influential Chinese director King Hu died of a stroke Jan. 14 in Taipei, Taiwan, while visiting friends. He was 65.
Born near Beijing, Hu was stranded in Hong Kong during the Communist takeover of China. Hired by a local film studio as a painter, he became a film actor and writer. He also worked for the Voice of America, producing and writing radio programs.
Hu went to work for Hong Kong’s leading producers, the Shaw brothers, and began directing chop-socky films in the early 1960s. Hu gave the martial arts genre a new twist by using quick-cut montages to convey choreographed action sequences, and he broadened audience appeal by adding humor. The style has been imitated by the new generation of Hong Kong directors, such as John Woo and Tsui Hark.
Best known for “A Touch of Zen,” which won a Technical Superiority Award at Cannes in 1973, Hu helmed more than 16 films; the last was “Painted Skin” in 1993.
Hu had been a Los Angeles resident for the past decade. He was attached to direct “The Battle of Ono,” a long-in-development script by David Henry Hwang and Gary Tiesche for Sanford-Pilsbury Prods.
He is survived by a sister in Beijing.