Hong Kong-born action director Ringo Lam, who directed the influential crime film “City on Fire,” has died.
The 1986 “City on Fire” is considered a landmark film about Hong Kong triads, and won best director at the Hong Kong Film Awards. It was a major influence on Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs.” Lam followed that film up with “Prison on Fire” and “School on Fire.”
“Tarantino has never tried to hide his love for ’70s cinema, and this is part of what makes his take on ‘City on Fire’ so interesting,” wrote IndieWire in an explanation of Tarantino’s influences.
With several “Reservoir Dogs” shots recalling “City on Fire,” such as the image of four men in black suits and a man shooting a cop with with two guns, cinephiles have questioned whether Tarantino’s references were homage or rip-off.
Tarantino told the Baltimore Sun, “It’s a really cool movie. It influenced me a lot. I got some stuff from it.”
Lam made several forays into international filmmaking, including three films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme: “Maximum Risk,” “In Hell” and “Replicant.”
Van Damme tweeted “I’m deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Ringo Lam.”
I’m deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Ringo Lam. We worked together on Maximum Risk, In Hell and Replicant.
My heart goes out to his family, friends and loved ones.
— Jean-Claude Van Damme (@JCVD) December 29, 2018
Lam also wrote, produced and acted in several of his films, and served as executive producer on “Simon Sez.”
After “Maximum Risk” failed to take off, he returned to Hong Kong to shoot “Full Alert,” which was nominated for five Hong Kong Film Awards.
While Lam expressed dissatisfaction with the state of Hong Kong cinema and turned out fewer films in the 2000s, he teamed with Tsui Hark and Johnnie To for the 2007 portmanteau film “Triangle,” which screened out of competition in Cannes.
After studying acting with Chow Yun-fat in Hong Kong and filmmaking in Toronto, Lam made his directing debut with comedy “Esprit d’Amour,” taking over for another director part way through shooting. His other films include the successful “Aces Go Places IV,” starring Maka and Sam Hui, “The Suspect,” “Victim,” “Touch and Go” and “Undeclared War,” which starred Olivia Hussey and Peter Lapis.
Before the release of his final film, “Sky on Fire,” he told the South China Morning Post in a pensive interview, “I am at an age where I have something to say about life. What is life? There’s nothing that I can do to decide when it ends. I am powerless and I am very angry, so I put that all onto the screen.”
“Sky on Fire” star Daniel Wu posted a tribute on Facebook, saying “A true maestro of film — you will be dearly missed.”
Imdb listed him as currently being in production on anthology film “Eight and a Half” co-directed with other Hong Kong luminaries including Johnnie To, John Woo, Sammo Hung, Yuen Wo-ping, Tsui Hark, Patrick Tam and Ann Hui.