Hong Kong Martial Arts Star Dies at 79 – The Hollywood Reporter

Jimmy Wang Yu, the trailblazing martial arts star who starred in traditional Hong Kong films Golden Swallow, One-Armed Swordsman and The Chinese Boxer and paved the way in which for the likes of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, has died. He was 79.

Wang died in a Taipei hospital on Tuesday, his daughter Linda Wang revealed on Instagram. He had been affected by power unwell well being for plenty of years.

On Facebook, Jackie Chan wrote, “Another martial arts hero has left us… The contributions you’ve made to kung fu movies, and the support and wisdom you’ve 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 migrated together with his household to Hong Kong. Wang began appearing within the early Sixties and caught the eye of the fledgling Hong Kong department of the Shanghai-based Shaw Brothers Studio, which had begun to broaden its manufacturing slate with motion films and wuxia movies.

A contract participant at first of his profession, Wang’s early profession was indelibly linked with Shaw Brothers, for higher and worse, and he would grow to be a mainstream star within the studio’s most well-known wuxia movies together with One-Armed Swordsman (1967) which broke field workplace data in Hong Kong, Golden Swallow (1968), Return of the One-Armed Swordsman (1969) and ground-breaking kung fu movie The Chinese Boxer (1970).

The Chinese Boxer, which noticed Wang’s character single-handedly tackle a gang of Japanese karate thugs, proved to be an enormous hit and located an viewers exterior of Hong Kong and Asia. Written, directed and starring Wang, the movie is credited with establishing a brand new template for Hong Kong motion movies, giving start to the kung fu movies, with storylines that veered away from swords and fantasy parts and centered extra on battle scenes pushed by hand-to-hand fight. It additionally established a well-liked trope utilized in numerous kung fu movies, that of a loner looking for revenge however dealing with seemingly unimaginable odds/numbers of enemies.

The preeminent Hong Kong motion star of the late Sixties and early Seventies, Wang’s profession was derailed by a really messy and public authorized battle with Shaw Brothers after he broke his contract with the studio in 1970. The studio sued the star, profitable after a extremely publicized trial. Also weighing on Wang’s superstar was a collection of scandals in his personal life, together with intercourse scandals, alleged hyperlinks to organized crime and repeatedly brawling in public.

In an interview with Eastern Kicks, Wang referred to himself as a “street fighter” and stated that within the interval between 1964 and 1968 he was typically within the newspapers for combating, usually with paparazzi, and even a policeman.

Finding work more durable to return by in Hong Kong, Wang would relocate to Taiwan to work with Shaw Brothers’ rivals Golden Harvest.

In Taiwan, and now producing his personal options, Wang was prolific and among the many many kung fu movies he made on this interval, One-Armed Boxer (1972), A Man Called Tiger (1972) and Beach of the War Gods (1973) have all gone on to realize cult standing.

With the rise of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, and the success of Shaw Brothers stars Ti Lung and David Chiang, Wang’s recognition started to dip by the mid-Seventies. A self-proclaimed road brawler moderately than a martial artist by coaching, Wang’s lack of abilities, hidden to an extent by modifying, was starting to indicate when in comparison with his fully-trained rivals.

Wang was nonetheless in demand in worldwide productions, nonetheless, with producers within the west trying to money in on the kung fu craze. In 1975, Wang starred within the first Hong Kong-Australia co-production, The Man From Hong Kong. The following 12 months he starred in The Queen’s Ransom. Both movies co-starred a declining George Lazenby.

Another notable Wang movie from this era was Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976), which Quentin Tarantino would rank as certainly one of his favourite movies and that will later affect RZA’s The Man with the Iron Fists. 

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From left: ‘The Chinese Professionals’ aka ‘One-Armed Boxer’ (1971), ‘The Man From Hong Kong’ (1975), ‘A Man Called Tiger’ (1973)
All courtesy of Everett Collection

By the Nineteen Eighties, Wang’s profession started to decelerate, and he was higher recognized for the scandals in his personal life. There have been reviews of home abuse, continued reviews of his alleged hyperlinks to Triads and in Taiwan, he was charged with homicide in 1981, however the expenses have been dropped resulting from an absence of proof.

In the Nineteen Nineties, Wang’s movies gained a brand new viewers after his work, significantly The Chinese Boxer, was championed by the likes of Tarantino.

In his later years, Wang appeared in Peter Chan’s 2011 movie Wu Xia, starring Donnie Yen and Tang Wei. The movie was a tribute to the One-Armed Swordsman collection and premiered on the Cannes Film Festival. His ultimate movie look got here in 2013, within the Taiwanese horror film Soul. In 2019, Wang was awarded the lifetime achievement award at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards.

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