Obituary

Pioneer female martial arts star acted in more than 200 films

A still of Buddha's Palm, with (from left) Cho Tat Wah, Yu So Chow, Kwan Hoi San and Patricia Lam Fung.
A still of Buddha's Palm, with (from left) Cho Tat Wah, Yu So Chow, Kwan Hoi San and Patricia Lam Fung.PHOTO: APPLE DAILY
Above: Yu at the 50th anniversary dinner of the Seven Little Fortunes in Hong Kong in 2009.
Above: Yu at the 50th anniversary dinner of the Seven Little Fortunes in Hong Kong in 2009.PHOTO: APPLE DAILY

HONG KONG • Yu So Chow, a pioneering female martial arts star of Hong Kong cinema, died in San Francisco on May 12. She was 89, said Hong Kong newspapers.

The death was confirmed by action choreographer Yuen Bun, a student of her father, Peking opera master Yu Jim Yuen, said Apple Daily. Yuen said she died of pneumonia "peacefully", with her children at her side.

Yu acted in more than 200 films, including notably Buddha's Palm, the 1964-1965 series of Cantonese martial arts movies that were all the rage in Hong Kong. She and her co-star Cho Tat Wah became a popular screen couple, although she was of Shanghainese ancestry, did not speak Cantonese and had to be dubbed.

Under the tutelage of her father, she began learning Peking opera when she was five, made her stage debut at age eight, and was renowned for playing female warrior roles by the time she was 15, said Apple Daily.

She began her film career at age 18. She was a senior to the Seven Little Fortunes, the troupe consisting of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Wah, Yuen Biao and others, who went to her father's Peking opera school before becoming action stars.

She married Cantonese opera star Mak Bing Wing in 1966 and they later moved to the United States. She was known to have two sons and a daughter, said Apple Daily.

In 2009, she returned to Hong Kong to attend the Seven Little Fortunes' 50th anniversary dinner, said the report. Cutting a fine figure in a black qipao and a green fur coat, she was then, once again, the centre of attention.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2017, with the headline 'Pioneer female martial arts star acted in more than 200 films'. Print Edition | Subscribe