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San Diego Asian Film Festival 2012

Lifetime Achievement Award


It was the perfect storm. Hong Kong powerhouse studio Shaw Bros. wanted to internationalize their product so they looked for talent elsewhere. Meanwhile, Hollywood major Warner Bros. sought a film to capitalize on America’s excitement for TV’s Green Hornet and Kung Fu.

Enter Chung Chang-wha, a 19-year veteran in the Korean industry turning out spectacular melodramas, swordsplay films, and costume pictures. The result was (cue Quincy Jones’ Ironside siren!) FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH which, under Warners’ watch, became an international sensation that remained on the North American box office charts for nearly three months. For a foreign production in a xenophobic market, the film was an unprecedented – and still seemingly unthinkable – success that precipitated a two-year kung fu craze. Asian cinema is still only catching up.

A master of endlessly creative and exhilarating fights, Director Chung brought a jolt of energy to Hong Kong (and beyond) with his craft and his cosmopolitan smarts. Today, beyond the box office success and the Shaw Bros. revolution, FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH (aka King Boxer) is still making its mark on films like Kill Bill and The Man with the Iron Fists. For his art, for his passion, and for his imprint on world cinema, the San Diego Asian Film Festival is proud to award Chung Chang-wha its Lifetime Achievement Award.

In celebration of Director Chung’s award and the film’s 40th anniversary, FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH plays 6:30pm on Friday, Nov. 2 at the UltraStar Mission Valley.