Run Run Shaw Passes Away at 106 Years Old

Jan 9, 2014

Runrun Shaw


Who is Run Run Shaw some of you may ask.  Well, if you went to Chinese kung-fu movies at Liberty Theater, then later at Empress Theater back in the 70’s – then surely you know who Run Run Shaw is.


Maybe this will ring a bell?


Run Run Shaw was a Hong Kong entertainment mogul and philanthropist. He was one of the most influential figures in the Asian entertainment industry.  He founded the Shaw Brothers Studio, one of the largest film production companies in the world, and Television Broadcasts Limited, the dominant television company in Hong Kong.


I remember all too well going to “Chinese movies” with my friends.  The movie backdrops were cheesy, the furniture always shattered into a million pieces, and the courtyard where the big finale always looked the same.  But it didn’t matter.  We were entertained by the kung-fu moves and the skill with the weapons.


I especially enjoyed the movies when they had a kung-fu chick.  Dressed all pretty with her hair all made up with little pins stuck in it.  And sometimes, the hair pins would become her weapon of choice as she suddenly flies it though the air to pierce the forehead of the enemy spy eavesdropping behind sliding paper door.


Oh yeah!  That’s what I’m talking about.


But sometimes I was so busy reading the subtitles, that I didn’t get to see all the action or notice the elaborate costumes.


And the theaters.  Remember Liberty Theater?  When you walk down the bare cement aisles, your rubber slippers make that crackling sound from sticking to years and years of spilled snacks on the floor.  I remember my brother telling me that at the end of the movies when everyone gets up, if you look good – you can see all the rats running under the seats to the stage area.  We often sat with our feet up on our chair.


Then they moved over to the Empress Theater.  I remember that Empress Theater had a upper level – that was always closed.  And the candy in the case must’ve been like 6 months old.  We didn’t dare eat or drink anything from that snack bar.  But I did used to buy a Chinese kung-fu star magazine every now and then – just for the pictures because the magazine was all in Chinese.


I remember looking in the daily newspaper’s Entertainment section every Tuesday or Wednesday to see what new Chinese movie was playing.  Heck, one time we even went to see a David Chiang and Agnes Chan drama.  What was the name of that show…


I found it!


Thank you Run Run Shaw for all the hours of entertainment that you provided us.  Your movies were so much a part of my life growing up.  And your movies inspired so many others – including John Woo and Quentin Tarantino.


Let’s honor Run Run Shaw by sharing your memories of Chinese kung-fu movies.  Or the theaters they used to play at.  Or even the late night Kung-Fu Theater movies that were dubbed in English (boo.).


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72 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Mark Shelby
    January 9th, 2014 at 5:10 am #

    I used to go to the Kam Drive in Theater in Pearl City to watch the Kung Foo Movies! Can you guess who that was?

  2. jaydee
    January 9th, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    Loved those Kung Fu movies. The plot seemed to always be the same. Avenge the death of someone’s father, brother, sister or wife. lol Very entertaining though.

  3. JindoMaster
    January 9th, 2014 at 6:39 am #

    I saw many Kung Fu movies at Liberty Theater. For some reason, I remember “Duel of the Iron Fist” from Shaw Brothers the best: Maybe because it had both Ti Lung and David Chiang in the same movie.

  4. JindoMaster
    January 9th, 2014 at 6:51 am #

    Lol…. I don’t remember it being THAT violent!!

  5. Mark'75
    January 9th, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    @Mark Shelby: Yes, I know the people you mentioned, and Elaine was a good friend. She was such a kind hearted person! Thanks for the link…Dodies Department Store rings a bell!!!! Thanks.

  6. Mark Shelby
    January 9th, 2014 at 7:11 am #

    Mark’75…..Elaine was my lifelong friend since I was a little boy at our First Church of the Nazarene on Judd St. That’s going way back to the 1950’s bradda! No better friend, could anyone ever have! I miss our good old days of Hawai’i……!

    I know this is off topic…….but!

    God bless you my friend, Mark’75. Just had to share bradda. Because I know that you care!


    Mark Shelby

  7. Mark Shelby
    January 9th, 2014 at 7:35 am #

    Mark’75…..thanks to Elaine I was able to share time with our former Mayor, Mufi Hannemann. Her former student friend from Farrington High School. And our former HPD Police Chief. Who ended up in a wheel chair. And was hit by a car. You know the one.

    Much Aloha! Bradda!

    ~Mark Shelby

  8. sally
    January 9th, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    Alexander Fu Sheng. Need I say more for the gals?

  9. Ynaku
    January 9th, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Wednesday night at the old Palace theater in Hilo was our foreign film nights. I have gone to many Kung Fu movies, Japanese Samurai and took mommy to the Filipino shows. Crack me up. Hyah

    Palace had a balcony section too. Guys used to flip popcorn over the top. Loved the smell of their popcorn. The concession was next to the sidewalk so as you stand in line to get your ticket you could buy your snacks then go straight inside. You could also buy even if you not going inside fir a movie. Score

  10. sally
    January 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    @Ynaku: That is a smart move, that outside concession. Make mo’ money.

  11. Rodney
    January 9th, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    IIRC, Kapahulu theater was like that, no? Try rememba – sally!

  12. Rodney
    January 9th, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Shih Szu. Need I say more for the guys?

  13. Hawaiian by Heart
    January 9th, 2014 at 10:46 am #


    Omg yes uncle, had the biggest crush for her and Marla Yi (i know different company)

    Wow funny that you mentioned Shih Szu. She was in the last kungfu movie I saw while in Oahu. The Empress Theater did a second running of “Seven brothers and their one sister meets Dracula” great movie.

    I could go on forever lol. Yes I remember the Liberty, Empress Theater. And golden harvest theater when they first opened. At least for myself all of the movies, theaters, experiences were such a vital part of my hanabata, small kid time. Being a child of the 70s was a blessing, Kids my age were just fortunate to experience the tail end of this magical time, were almost everything was still local and unique.

  14. snow
    January 9th, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    alexander fu sheng. nuff said. don’t ask me what happened in the movie… all know know is… alexander fu sheng. he was so cute!

    wow, i just looked him up on wikipedia… i didn’t realize he died so young… only 29! they even mention that fu sheng was supposed to star in a movie but run run shaw, head of shaw brothers studio, refused him the role, which eventually went to jackie chan.

  15. Hawaiian by Heart
    January 9th, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    I miss those times so much. We all know that kung fu movies, had the same plots most of the time and the theaters like the cockroach theater where we watched the movies, were alot of times dives. Its hard to explain to others new to Hawaii or transplants that for our generations it was never about how good the product was, but how it made us feel experienceing it. Thats what is differnt in thinking today. Enough rambling. Aloha

  16. Hawaiian by Heart
    January 9th, 2014 at 10:59 am #


    I belived he died from a car accident?

  17. sally
    January 9th, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    @Rod: I was so young in my Kapahulu Theater days, I only remember that my brothers had to take me (yah, that really thrilled them har har). I only remember walking to and from, and Kazekozo.

    Everything else is a blur, and it is getting blurrier. LOL

  18. Hbh
    January 9th, 2014 at 12:10 pm #


    From what I rememba is da kapahulu theater closed early 80s? I think Rod is correct that they sold concession outside but like you I can’t really rememba lol. Not to be noisy or rude sistah, but may I humbly ask how old you are? I believe i maybe the runt of this litter.

    How did the picture go, did your friend like it?

  19. Mark'75
    January 9th, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    At Kapahulu Theater, there was an open air lobby right at the sidewalk. Facing the front entrance, the concession was on the right just as you step into the lobby. Behind the glass counter was the popcorn. After practice I’d walk home from Kaimuki HS, just starving, and had to smell the buttered popcorn wafting out from the lobby.

  20. Mark'75
    January 9th, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    In kung fu movies, I remember there was always some clown who would taunt the hero, saying stuff like, “I’m going to beat you up,” or “You’ll get what’s coming to you,” while running away. The highlight came when the clown got his cracks from the good guy ❗ 😆

  21. Hbh
    January 9th, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Another star I liked from Shaw Brothers was Kara Hui Ying-Hung another nani asian actress. Some of her best movies were   Clan of Amazons,  The Ghost Story (70s) and after the 80s her best My Young Auntie (1981).

    I also liked Gordon Liu, he could be the best male martial arts actors that shaw brothers had. Some of his good movies were Bloody Avengers, Heroes of the East, Dirty Ho.

    Anyway rest in peace Run Run Shaw. Mahalo

  22. dihudfan
    January 9th, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    my friend turned me on to kung fu flicks… we used to go to the old Liberty theater (before they built the Empress) … only thing wuz you always had to keep your feet off the floor… used have some big rats running around… luv them kung fu flicks!!!

  23. Ynaku
    January 9th, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    How come they take forever to die? 😆

    So dramatic. Blood and all. Shocked look on face than spin and fall down dead 😀

  24. volleymom2
    January 9th, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    I remember the Liberty and Empress theater all too well. My entire family used to go to those movies. In fact, I was in the kitchen when I heard the name Run Run Shaw died? HUH? 106? I ran out of the kitchen and couldn’t believe it.. but the shaw insignia, lol!! I remember!! My brother and father loved those movies- I just used to tag along being in middle school so I didn;t really like going. Wasn’t Liberty theater in a dingy part of chinatown?? RIP Run Run Shaw!!

  25. Rodney
    January 9th, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Liberty Theater used to be almost across of Empress Theater (which at that time was Kokusai Theater). Liberty Theater was between Nuuanu and Bethel street, running along side of Chaplain Lane next to Mark’s garage. The front of Liberty Theater faced Nuuanu Avenue. There was a service station on the Beretania side of Liberty Theater with a long dark alley way cutting between the theater and the service station running from Nuuanu to Bethel. We actually used to walk down that alleyway at night.

  26. Rodney
    January 9th, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    @Ynaku – Once you see the blood come out of the guy’s mouth – then you know they dead. 😉

  27. 4G
    January 9th, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    I was not all that into Kung Fu flicks, but I certainly saw my share of them. LOL!

    I remember mostly going to Liberty Theatre. I thought the sticky floors were my imagination. Thinking back on it (only now – geez! 😉 ), I think that’s the only theatre I recall sticky floors in. LOL.

  28. Hbh
    January 9th, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    Wasnt there also another movie house close by to the liberty and Empress? I remember one in chinatown that had an video game arcade next to it? Which one was that? It would of been middle 70s.

    Wasnt the liberty also called the “cockroach theatre” by locals? Or was it another theatre?

    Mahalo for helping me with lifting the fog.

  29. Hbh
    January 9th, 2014 at 6:51 pm #


    I love the lapse of the audio when they dubed what the heros or bad guys said to english. Lips move then voice lol.

  30. Mark'75
    January 9th, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    @4G: sticky floors…..hmmm 😆

  31. 4G
    January 9th, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    @Mark’75 – really, yeah? 😉 But, I didn’t want to say other theatres, maybe not so mainstream, came to mind. LOL!

  32. 4G
    January 9th, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    @Hbh – LOL!

  33. khs68
    January 9th, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    @Sally – Alexander Fu Sheng!! Oh yeah!!!

  34. Ynaku
    January 9th, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

    @ sally same age as me. we 29 😆

  35. JonT Media Hawaii
    January 9th, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    Little known Fact: Ige’s Restaurant & 19th Puka leases its space from Run Run Shaw. He owns the land all the way down to Graces Drive In.

  36. dihudfan
    January 9th, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    @Hbh… yeh, opposite side of the fire house… Princess… also had one down on King st… King… also Roosevelt (adult films) I think on Smith st… and Hawaii down Bethel st. and all the Japanese theaters down Aala Park side…

  37. Hbh
    January 10th, 2014 at 8:06 am #


    Mahalo, sometimes I forget how small chinatown and the area was lol. So which one had the video game arcade next to it? I also believe it may have been on hotel street.

    Did you know that Hawai’i has had more than 400 theatres since 1847? Interesting huh?

    It would be cool if someone with the tech savy could create a page with a map of Honolulu, and mark the locations of the old movie theaters. Could even add photos.

    Anyway didn’t mean to get off topic. But yeah Both Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest Films is what I grewup with.

  38. Masako
    January 10th, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    Good morning! I don’t remember any of this….

  39. Rodney
    January 10th, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    @JonT – Run Run Shaw owns the land under Ige’s? How interesting. Speaking of which: RKSB plays there tonight. We’ll be there!

  40. Seawalker
    January 10th, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    I remember the countless times catching the bus to watch the next great and exciting kung fu movie at Empress. My memories are the walk through Chinatown and Hotel St. Talk about nuts, fruits and flakes! LOL Missed the Bruce Lee times. Everybody used to yak about Enter the Dragon, but I was too young then. The popcorn smell at Empress still lingers in my mind. But it was a different popcorn smell than going down the escalator at Sears.

  41. Hbh
    January 10th, 2014 at 10:58 am #


    Yup I know exactly what your saying. I was young too but we still rememba. Bruce still is king. 🙂

  42. 4G
    January 10th, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    @Seawalker! 🙂

  43. Mark'75
    January 10th, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    @Seawalker: Howzit!

  44. Mark'75
    January 10th, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Forgot the title, but I remember one movie where the main guy had to fight his way up a pagoda. At one level, he met up with Kareem Abdul Jabar. That was pretty bizarre!

  45. 4G
    January 10th, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    I sort of remember reading something, many years ago, that Kareem actually studied martial arts (not sure which one).

  46. 4G
    January 10th, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    One of the best memories I have of a disastrous freshman year at UH was History 151 held in Varsity theatre. Class size must have been like 300 people. You could buy popcorn (and other refreshments) at the concession before going in to class! LOL.

  47. PA
    January 10th, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    they had kung fu nite at a multiplex theater in kaneohe we would go all the time i remember seeing the five fingers of death
    and karado the hong kong kat there was this scene were karado ran after a car for over 5 minutes and caught up with it we thought it was pretty funny when we saw the credits run run shaw

  48. C0hiba
    January 10th, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    Howzit gang!
    I don’t remember kung fu movies at Kapahulu Theater, only Samurai and Obake movies. The kung fu movies that I saw were at Toyo Theater, near the start of Vineyard.
    If I’m not mistaken, Run Run Shaw owns (or previously owned) the Kaanapali Beach Hotel. One of my friends is/was the GM there, think he told me that.

  49. Seawalker
    January 10th, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Howdee, you fellow old-fogeys. You sure you weren’t catching the movies at the Hawaii Theatre instead? LOL

    One thing about these kung-fu flicks is how my father used to play these Chinese gimmicks on us. When we misbehaved, he would say he was trained at the famous Shaolin Temple. He would ramble on about ‘first set’ and the horse stance just to prove his point. Looking back, now we know he was full of it. When we took lickins’ with the broom, he would say this is how the nunchucks felt like.

    On the other hand, my mother told us Jackie Chan was the ultimate womanizer. What? No way, must be his moolah!

  50. Mark'75
    January 10th, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    @C0hiba: Wassup?!

  51. Mark'75
    January 10th, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    Wow, this Run Run Shaw guy must have built up a fortune to buy all this property in Hawaii. Like a certain Genshiro….

  52. Seawalker
    January 10th, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    @Mark – Yes, he seems to have buku bucks. But my question is: where did he get his name, Run Run? I know of a Re-run, but what’s up with Run Run?!?!

  53. Rodney
    January 10th, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    @C0hiba – I remember Toho theater showing samurai and obake movies. Toyo theater was “da kine” Japanese movies.

  54. Mark'75
    January 10th, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    @Seawalker: for real, no?

  55. Hbh
    January 10th, 2014 at 9:03 pm #


    The movie you mentioned was “Game of Death” it was Bruce Lee’s last movie, he didnt complete it. So the only part of the movie that is him is the pagoda fights.

    Kareem Abdul Jabar was one of Bruce Lees students studying Jeet Kune Do(way of intercepting fist). Bruce taught alot of big hollywood actors like Steve McQueen, Kareem Abdul Jabar, James Coburn, Roman Polanski, James Garner, Chuck Norris to name a few.

    @Rodney I rememba how cool looking the toyo was, went there a few times. Now toho was named that intil 1976, When Consolidated Theatres took over, and renamed it Kapiolani Theatre, “Star Wars” premiered here and this is were I saw star wars. It wasnt far from Holiday Mart where I lived by for a few years.

    Heres a picture enjoy

  56. Rodney
    January 10th, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

    @cmo – Thanks for playing Summer Sun at Ige’s. RKSB – you guys are awesome!

  57. Hbh
    January 10th, 2014 at 9:28 pm #


    The only obake movie I remember was a lady in red ghost, and she took alot of souls. Alot of sword fighting in old japan.

    In the 70s there also was a public asian channel that would show the other martial art shows like Kamen Rider. They would also show wolf and cub. What was the name of the t.v station?

  58. Mark'75
    January 10th, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    @Hbh: thanks, I forgot the title.

  59. Hbh
    January 10th, 2014 at 9:56 pm #


    Mahalo shootz no big bruddah. His best movies were, the big boss and the chinese connections both saw at liberty.

  60. khs68
    January 10th, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    @Hbh: I remember the Lone Wolf & Cub (Baby Cart) movies at Kapiolani Theater. Tomisaburo Wakayama was Shintaro Katsu’s (Zatoichi’s brother).

  61. 4G
    January 11th, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    The Lone Wolf and Cub series was the bomb (except the guns in the later episodes – boo!). I remember seeing all the episodes at Toho theatre. I was able to, like seven years ago, collect the series on DVD via Toys-n-Joys. LOL.

    My kendo teacher claimed that Tomisaburo was a better swordsman than his brother (who was the bigger movie star), Shintaro. My teacher also said that you really couldn’t cut holding the sword in that backhanded manner that Zatoichi used ….

  62. Mark Shelby
    January 11th, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Good one! Hbh……..! Carry On!

  63. Hbh
    January 11th, 2014 at 10:20 am #


    Yeah I loved Lone Wolf & Cub (Baby Cart) movies too. Too bad they don’t make good samurai movie anymore.

  64. Mark Shelby
    January 11th, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    So how many of these have you been in? It’s OK to stray off topic sometimes, right? When somebody says something?

    Juz Love old Hawai’i Nei!

  65. Hbh
    January 11th, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    Im sorry am I being rude? I thought the topic was old hawaii theaters and kungfu movies? But the whole blog is about the good o’ days. I apologies if I stepped on anyones toes? I will try harder not too.:-(

  66. cmo
    January 12th, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    I grew up on north side of Hawaii island, only one theater with shows only on weekends (People’s Theater which is still running & has it’s own cool history of stories). So not much kung fu played there as I grew up.
    I didn’t know Run Run Shaw leased from Ige’s to Grace’s Drive Inn!
    Rod & JonT–thanks for joining the fun at Ige’s on Friday. It was a memorable night for all as Ige’s now joins the ranks of local establishments like Liberty and Empress theaters that hold wonderful memories for so many.

  67. Mark Shelby
    January 12th, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    Very Kewl! cmo…..I have driven by this many times on my visits to our Big Island, and I always thought it was so cool! So here is a pic to celebrate the good old days of Hawai’i. Carry on!

  68. Rodney
    January 12th, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    @Hbh – no toes stepped on. We stray off topic every now and then. Not a problem.

  69. Hbh
    January 12th, 2014 at 10:31 pm #


    Mahalo pono uncle. :-).

    January 13th, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    Cohiba and Seawalker: Happy New Year ❗ Sorry I missed this post…. guess you folks stop by for a visit if a topic interests you ❗ I know nothing about Kung Fu movies….

    Have a great year ❗

    Very nice to see so many participate in this post ❗ 😀

  71. snow
    January 14th, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    c0hiba! how ya doing?? 🙂

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