Li Han-hsiang

Active - 1958 - 1986  |   Born - Mar 7, 1926   |   Died - Dec 17, 1996   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Comedy, Historical Film

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Over his long career, Li Han-Hsiang helmed over 70 features. He also played a key role in establishing Hong Kong cinema after the war. As a youth, he attended the National Arts Institute in Beijing until he was expelled for political reasons. In 1948, Li moved to Hong Kong and began working in promotions. Later he worked in films in various capacities until making his directorial debut in 1952. Three years later, Li began directing for Shaw Brothers and specialized in elaborate costume dramas such as Empress Wu. Li helped launch many careers during this period, including that of noted director King Hu. In 1963, Li had a dispute with Shaw Brothers and moved to Taiwan where he founded the Grand Motion Picture Company and made some of his most famous films, including Hsi Shih/Beauty of Beauties. By the end of the decade, Li's company had collapsed and he returned to the Shaws in Hong Kong to direct a number of racy costume comedies. Li moved to mainland China in the early '80s and resumed making such costume dramas as The Empress Dowager. Around that time, Li published four volumes of his memoirs. In 1994, he made an unsuccessful attempt at a more modern film, Lover's Lover. Li died of heart failure at age 70.

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