Lo Lieh: The Indonesian-born Hong Kong Martial Arts Star Who Died of a Heart Attack

Lo Lieh, whose real name was Wang Lap Tat, was a famous actor and martial artist who appeared in many Hong Kong films from the 1960s to the 2000s. He was best known for his roles in King Boxer, Executioners from Shaolin, Fist of Fury II, and The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. He was also a voice actor, a director, and a machine maker. He died of a heart attack on November 2, 2002, in Shenzhen, China, at the age of 63.

Early Life and Career

Lo Lieh was born on June 29, 1939, in Pematangsiantar, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). He moved to China with his parents when he was a child, and later attended acting school in Hong Kong. He joined the Shaw Brothers Studio in 1962, and began his career as a performer in various genres, such as comedy, drama, horror, and action. He was one of the first martial arts stars in Hong Kong, before the rise of Bruce Lee. He was skilled in various styles, such as karate, kung fu, and tai chi. He also learned several languages, such as English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Indonesian, and French.

Famous Roles and Films

Lo Lieh starred in over 100 films, and worked with many renowned directors and actors in the Hong Kong film industry. Some of his most famous roles and films are:

  • Chao Chih-Hao in King Boxer (1972), also known as Five Fingers of Death, one of the first martial arts films to be successful in the West. Lo played a young fighter who learns the deadly Iron Palm technique to defeat his enemies.
  • Priest Pai Mei in Executioners from Shaolin (1977) and Clan of the White Lotus (1980), two films that featured Lo as the villainous and invincible kung fu master who kills the heroes’ fathers and teaches them a secret weakness. Lo also directed Clan of the White Lotus, which was a sequel and a remake of Executioners from Shaolin.
  • Miyamoto in Fist of Fury II (1977), a film that starred Bruce Li as Chen Zhen, the character originally played by Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury (1972). Lo played the Japanese karate master who challenges Chen Zhen to a duel.
  • General Tien Ta in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978), one of the most influential and acclaimed kung fu films of all time. Lo played the ruthless and powerful Manchu general who oppresses the Han Chinese and fights against the Shaolin monks.

Death and Legacy

Lo Lieh died of a heart attack on November 2, 2002, in Shenzhen, China, where he had been living for several years. His cause of death was confirmed by his brother-in-law, Stanley Tong, a famous Hong Kong film director. Lo was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, next to his father, who had died in 1994.

Lo Lieh left behind a legacy that is admired and respected by many fans and filmmakers of martial arts and Hong Kong cinema. His films have been influential and inspirational for many generations of actors and directors, such as Quentin Tarantino, who paid homage to Lo’s character Pai Mei in his Kill Bill films. Lo was a versatile and talented performer, who could play heroes and villains, and who could adapt to different genres and styles. He was a legend and an icon of Hong Kong martial arts cinema. Rest in peace, Lo Lieh.