Hong Kong martial arts star dies at 79 – The Hollywood Reporter

Jimmy Wang Yu, the pioneering martial artist who starred in Hong Kong classic films Golden Swallow, Swordsman of a weapon and The Chinese boxer and paved the way for Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, he died. It was 79.

Wang died in a Taipei hospital on Tuesday, his daughter Linda Wang revealed on Instagram. He suffered from chronic health problems for a number of years.

On Facebook, Jackie Chan wrote: “Another martial arts hero has left us… Your contributions to kung fu movies and the support and wisdom you have given to the younger generations will always be remembered in the industry. And your movies will always remain in the hearts of your fans. We will miss you!”

Born Wang Cheng-chuan in Shanghai in 1943, he immigrated with his family to Hong Kong. Wang began playing in the early 1960s and caught the attention of the newly formed Shanghai-based branch of Shaw Brothers Studio in Hong Kong, which had begun to expand its production with action and wuxia films.

As a contract player in the beginning, Wang’s early career was indelibly linked to the Shaw Brothers, for better or worse, and he would become a star in the studio’s most famous wuxia films, such as Swordsman of a weapon (1967) who broke a ticket record in Hong Kong, Golden Swallow (1968), Return of the Single Swordsman (1969) and a groundbreaking kung fu film The Chinese boxer (1970).

The Chinese boxer, which saw Wang’s character face a gang of Japanese karate thugs on his own, proved to be a huge success and found audiences outside of Hong Kong and Asia. Written, directed and starring Wang, the film is credited with creating a new model for action movies in Hong Kong, giving birth to kung fu films, with stories that deviated from swords and fantasy elements and focused more on hand-to-hand combat scenes. melee. He also introduced a popular troparion used in countless kung fu movies, that of a loner seeking revenge but facing seemingly impossible chances / numbers of enemies.

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The protagonist of Hong Kong action in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Wang’s career was derailed by a very dirty and public legal dispute with the Shaw Brothers, after he broke his contract with the studio in 1970. The studio sued the star, winning after a very large publicized lawsuit. Wang’s fame has also been linked to a number of scandals in his private life, including sex scandals, alleged links to organized crime, and repeated public quarrels.

In an interview with Eastern kicksWang referred to himself as a “street fighter” and said that between 1964 and 1968 he was often in the newspapers for quarrels, usually with the paparazzi and even a police officer.

Finding harder work in Hong Kong, Wang will relocate to Taiwan to work with Shaw Brothers Golden Harvest rivals.

In Taiwan, and now producing his own elements, Wang was productive and among the many kung fu films he made during this period, Boxer with a gun (1972), A man named Tiger (1972) and Beach of the Gods of War (1973) all continued to acquire the status of worship.

With the rise of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and the success of Shaw Brothers starring Ti Lung and David Chiang, Wang’s popularity began to plummet in the mid-1970s. Wang’s lack of skills, which to some extent was hidden in the editing, had begun to appear in comparison to his better-trained opponents.

However, Wang was still in demand in international productions, with producers in the West trying to make money from kung fu madness. In 1975, Wang starred in the first Hong Kong-Australia co-production, The man from Hong Kong. The following year he starred The ransom of the Queen. Both films co-starred with a declining George Lazenby.

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Another notable Wang film from that period was Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976), which Quentin Tarantino would rank as one of his favorite films and this would later affect RZA The man with the iron fists.

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From left: “The Chinese Professionals” also known as “One-Armed Boxer” (1971), “The Man From Hong Kong” (1975), “A Man Called Tiger” (1973)
Everything is courtesy of the Everett collection

By the 1980s, Wang’s career was slowing down and he was best known for his privacy scandals. There have been reports of domestic abuse, ongoing reports of his alleged links to the Triads. In Taiwan, he was charged with murder in 1981, but the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.

In the 1990s, Wang’s films gained new audiences after his work, in particular The Chinese boxerdefended by people like Tarantino.

In his later years, Wang appeared in Peter Chan’s 2011 film Wu Xia, starring Donnie Yen and Tang Wei. The film was a tribute to them Swordsman of a weapon series and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. His last film appearance was in 2013, in the Taiwanese horror film Soul. Despite his controversial personal life, in 2019, Wang was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan.

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