The Hong Kong cinematic world lost another legend when it was announced that Wu Ma had lost his battle with cancer on the morning of February 4, 2014 at the age of 71.
Born Feng Hongyuan on August 18, 1942, Wu started out as a machinist before leaving the mainland for Hong Kong at the age of 18. In 1962, Wu decided to become an actor and enrolled in the Shaw Brothers Acting School. After graduating a year later, he made his film debut in LADY GENERAL HUA MULAN (1964) as Hua Mu Di. He was a regular in many early Shaw Brothers films.
The wuxia pian WRATH OF THE SWORD (1970) would mark Wu’s first film as a director. A natural talent behind the cameras aside from in front of the screens, Wu directed or co-directed films such as THE WATER MARGIN (1972), THE MANCHU BOXER (1974), and SHAOLIN DEADLY KICKS (1976), starring superkicker Tan Tao-Liang. Wu directed Tan not only in that film, but the classic SHOWDOWN AT THE COTTON MILL (1978) and SNAKE-CRANE SECRET (1978). He would also direct two 90’s vehicles for Yuen Biao, KICKBOXER (1993) and CIRCUS KIDS (1994).
However, Wu gained a following in the West with his most famous film role, a Taoist priest who comes between the love of a scholar and a beautiful ghost in Ching Siu-Tung’s A CHINESE GHOST STORY (1987). He would make many appearances in Jackie Chan’s films throughout the eighties, including a co-starring role in Chan’s homage to classic Hollywood cinema, MIRACLES (1989).
Last year, Wu was diagnosed with lung cancer and sadly, the Hong Kong world has lost another legend. Kung Fu Cinema sends its condolences to the family of Wu Ma.
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IMAGE: WU MA