Ringo Lam, the seminal Hong Kong action director, has died. He was 63. Lam is best known in the west for his collaborations with Jean-Claude Van Damme and for the highly influential City on Fire. The film — written, directed, and produced by Lam — starred Chow Yun-fat as a conflicted undercover cop who gets caught up in a jewelry store robbery gone wrong. If that sounds like the exact plot of Reservoir Dogs, that’s because it is. Tarantino told the Baltimore Sun that City on Fire was “a really cool movie. It influenced me a lot. I got some stuff from it.” In Hong Kong cinema, City on Fire kickstarted a whole genre of conflicted men killing and being killed by less conflicted men.
Following City on Fire, Lam continued to work steadily, but never reached the heights of that film’s success. He frequently cast Jean-Claude Van Damme in his films, as well as focusing many plots on the idea of twins and doppelgängers. In a press junket for his final film, Lam said, “I am at an age where I have something to say about life. What is life? There’s nothing that I can do to decide when it ends. I am powerless and I am very angry, so I put that all onto the screen.”