One of the most prolific Hong Kong filmmakers of the 1960s and '70s and the man who influenced such notable figures as Bruce Lee and John Woo, filmmaker Chang Cheh's star-making skills and bone-crunching films brought him to the forefront of Hong Kong cinema during his peak years. Born in mainland China in 1923, Cheh's workhorse dedication to filmmaking resulted in over 100 popular kung-fu films bearing such titles as Five Masters of Death (1975) and Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms (1978). A frequent collaborator with Lee, Cheh also took a young Woo as his assistant in the contemporary action film director's early years. Later striking out on his own to direct such Hong Kong action classics as A Better Tomorrow (1986) and The Killer (1989), Woo would later achieve worldwide success with such high-octane efforts as Face/Off (1997) and Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), bringing Cheh's sensibilities to a whole new audience. In late June 2002, Cheh died of pulmonary disease. He was 79.