HONG KONG - Celebrated Hong Kong writer Ni Kuang, a prolific author and screenwriter who was behind the Wisely science-fiction novels as well as more than 300 screenplays, died on Sunday (July 3). He was 87.
Among his best known movies are the classic martial arts films One-Armed Swordsman (1967) and The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin (1978), and the Bruce Lee hits Fist Of Fury (1972) and The Big Boss (1971).
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), who quoted actor Tenky Tin Kai-man, spokesman for the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, Ni died at his home in Hong Kong at 1pm on Sunday. News publication Ming Pao Monthly's chief editor Poon Yiu-ming said that the cause of death was skin cancer.
Ni not only ruled over the genres of martial arts and science fiction, but also wrote non-fiction pieces, newspaper columns, satirical pieces as well as dabbled in the romance and detective genres.
In addition to the 300 screenplays, he also wrote more than 300 novels.
Among the memorable characters he created were the adventurer Wisely, martial artist Chen Zhen, the first modern Chinese superhero Inframan and Fang Kang the "one-armed swordsman", who was portrayed by the late actor Jimmy Wang.
Born in Shanghai in 1935, Ni was named Ni Cong at birth and was one of eight children in a middle-class family. His younger sister Ni Yishu also became a popular novelist, with the pen name Yi Shu.
As a teenager, he was a cadre of the Chinese Communist Party, but escaped to Hong Kong in 1957 after offending a party official.
In Hong Kong, Ni worked as a labourer and stumbled into writing by chance after taking part in a writing competition in a newspaper.
A vocal critic of communism, he emigrated to the United States in 1992 before the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, but returned to Hong Kong in 2006.
His wildly popular Wisely stories, which numbered 150, were adapted for radio and the big and small screens.
Actors who have played Wisely included Chow Yun-fat, Andy Lau and Samuel Hui.
A Singapore drama series, The New Adventures Of Wisely (1998), starred Hong Kong actor Michael Dao Tai-yu as the male lead opposite local actress Zoe Tay.
Tay, who spoke to Chinese news daily Lianhe Zaobao after the news broke, said: "When I heard the news that Ni Kuang had died, I felt a bit sad. Even though I never met him in person, I acted in his show and felt that he was a talented writer."
Others who paid tribute to Ni included Tin, who said: "For those who are a bit old, they all know that the three greatest talents in the literary world are Jin Yong, Gu Long and Ni Kuang. After that, no such iconic and epoch-making people have appeared."
Jin Yong, better known as Louis Cha, died in 2018, while Xiong Yaohua, who wrote under the pen name of Gu Long, died in 1985.
Tin added: "I am wondering if this is the end of an era."
Hong Kong columnist and radio personality Chip Tsao, who spoke to SCMP, added: "His political views on China and Hong Kong were all prophetic. A genius unlikely to have a successor among the Chinese in the centuries to come."
Ni was survived by his wife, as well as a son and a daughter.