Raymond Chow Man-Wai (born January 1, 1929) is a Hong kong film producer, and presenter who was responsible for successfully launching martial arts and Hong Kong cinema onto the international stage. As the founder of Golden Harvest, he would produce some of the biggest stars to ever grace the screen including Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Ricky Tam and countless others.
He went to study abroad at the Shanghai St. John’s University, and graduated with a B. A. in journalism in 1949. In 1951 he joined the Voice of America office in Hong Kong. He also studied martial arts under master Lam Sai-wing.
Chow was the head of publicity and the production chief of Shaw Brothers between 1958 and 1970. He leased Cathay’s studio and contracted its exhibition chain of 104 cinema theatres in Southeast Asia. At the time Cathay was a predominant force in the Asian film industry.
When Cathay wanted to end the company’s association in Hong Kong, Chow left Shaw Brothers to establish Golden Harvest in 1970. Under Chow’s leadership, Golden Harvest would become the cornerstone for Hong Kong cinema leading HK box office sales for two decades from the 1970s to 1980s. Golden Harvest contracted with independent producers and gave talent more generous pay and greater creative freedom. Some filmmakers and actors from Shaws defected. But what really put the company on the map was a 1971 deal with soon-to-be martial arts superstar Bruce Lee, after he had turned down the low-paying, standard contract offered him by the Shaws.
They produced the Bruce Lee starring massive hits of ‘The Big Boss’ (1970), ‘Fist of Fury’ (1971) and ‘Way of the Dragon (1972). In 1973, Golden Harvest entered into a pioneering co-production with Hollywood for the English-language Lee film ‘Enter the Dragon’ (龍爭虎鬥), a worldwide hit made with the Warner Brothers studio. Bruce Lee’s final film ‘Game of Death’ was released in 1978, 5 years after his death.
Golden Harvest supplanted Shaw Brothers as Hong Kong’s dominant studio by the end of the ’70s and retained that position into the ’90s. Its greatest asset for years was that from the 1980s until very recently, it produced almost all of the films of Jackie Chan, Asia’s top box office star. Golden Harvest has also produced a number of films for Jet Li and Donnie Yen.
Golden Harvest’s activity has declined in recent years. In 2003, they withdrew from film-making to concentrate on film financing, distribution and cinema management in Hong Kong and in Mainland China. In 2007, Raymond Chow sold the company to Chinese businessman Wu Kebo, who owns the China-based Orange Sky Entertainment Group. In early 2009, Golden Harvest merged with Orange Sky and was renamed Orange Sky Golden Harvest (橙天嘉禾娛樂集團有限公司). In 2009, Golden Harvest announced their relaunch and previewed a new trailer set for movies in 2010.