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Martial Arts, Writing

Superstars – Yuen Biao – Acrobatic Genius!

Quite simply, Yuen Biao is a god-like genius. His fight scenes are astounding and use his considerable acrobatic skill to amaze the viewer.

He was born Hsia Ling-Jun in Hong Kong, and was the fifth child of eight. He studied at the Peking Opera School alongside such other greats as Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan, between the ages of five to sixteen. After this he pursued a career in the Hong Kong film industry, assuming ‘Yuen’ in tribute to his teacher, a common act in those days.

In 1973, Yuen became a stunt double for Bruce Lee. He was one of the “fake” Bruce Lee’s in Game of Death, doing the acrobatics and stunts that the Bruce Lee “body double” (Taekwondo expert, Tai Chung Kim) was unable to perform.

Yuen continued working as a stuntman, doubling for actors in Hong Kong action films. In the late 1970’s and early 80’s, he began working as an actor alongside Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan.

He debuted in Knockabout as lead role in 1978 and went on to star in several successful films in the early ’80’s, notably The Prodigal Son (directed by Sammo Hung) and Dreadnaught (directed by Yuen Woo-ping). He later co-starred alongside his “brothers”, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, in Project A, Wheels on Meals and Dragons Forever, and also appeared in smaller roles in films such as Hung’s Lucky Stars trilogy.

The bar fight in Project A is probably one of his best, and funniest, fight scenes. Superbly choreographed and set in a crowded bar, Yuen and Jackie set to against each other whilst other members of their respective units (Police and Coastguards) indulge in a classic western-style bar brawl.

Yuen is best known for his acrobatic action scenes, often overshadowing the work of his more famous co-stars. This was especially so in films such as Eastern Condors (with Sammo Hung), Dragons Forever and Wheels on Meals. His fight against Keith Vitalli is an excellent example of what kids nowadays like to call ‘par court’. In most of his roles he plays inexperienced and foolish young men, or eccentrics caught up in the schemes of his co-stars. This inexperience and eccentricity is used to good effect, often highlighting his character’s amazing acrobatic and martial arts ability to the extreme.

The film On The Run (1988) is viewed as the film in which he demonstrated his acting abilities to their best. He portrayed a married man seeking vengeance for his wife’s brutal murder, and his acting was so good that he was critically acclaimed.

The following year he starred in what is widely regards as being his best film, The Iceman Cometh, in which he starred with acclaimed actress Maggie Cheung. The film is regarded as a cult classic and is remembered not only for the fantastic fighting scenes and hilarious comedy, but also the wonderful acting of Yuen Biao and Maggie Cheung and the wonderful simmering sexual chemistry between them.

Films such 1997’s Hero and 1999’s A Man Called Hero saw him return to the big screen with larger roles than he had during most of the 90’s. During this time he started to concentrate more on television work, and took lead roles in the series Righteous Guards and The Legend of A Chinese Hero in 1998.

In 2000, Yuen went to the United States to work with Jackie Chan as the fight choreographer on Shanghai Noon and can be seen in a cameo role as a beggar.

In 2001, he co-starred alongside Sammo Hung in The Avenging Fist. Yuen also starred in a more comedic role in the 2002 Japan-HK film No Problem 2.

———- Begin Sidebar ———-

Real Kung Fu (2005) (TV Series)
Enter The Phoenix (2004)
No Problem 2 (2002)
Millennium Dragon (2000)
Shanghai Noon (2000)
Chinese Hero (1999)
Dragon from Shaolin (1996)
Hero of Swallow (1996)
Tough Beauty and Sloppy Slop (1995)
Don’t Give a Damn (1995)
Deadful Melody (1993)
Sword Stained With Royal Blood (1993)
Shogun & Little Kitchen (1992)
Kid From Tibet (1992)
The Setting Sun (1992)
Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
Saga of the Phoenix (cameo, 1990)
Iceman Cometh (1989)
Peacock King (1988)
On the Run (1988)
Picture of a Nymph (1988)
Dragons Forever (1988)
Righting Wrongs (1986)
Mr. Vampire 2 (1986)
Rosa (1986)
Millionaire’s Express (1986)
Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985)
My Lucky Stars (1985)
Wheels on Meals (1984)
Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983)
Winners and Sinners (1983)
Project A (1983)
Prodigal Son (1982)
Dreadnaught (1981)
The Young Master (1980)
Magnificent Butcher (1979)
Knockabout (1979)
Enter the Fat Dragon (cameo, 1978)
Dirty Tiger, Crazy Frog (1978)
Game of Death (1978)
Enter the Dragon (cameo, 1973)

———- End Sidebar ———-

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7.


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