A Tribute To The Agile Black Peony, Actress Yu So-chow
Why We Recommend it
To commemorate legendary Hong Kong martial arts and opera film star Yu So-chow, who passed away earlier this year, the Hong Kong Film Archive screens nine of her movies in a special programme.
Yu So-chow (1928 – 2017) was born into a Peking opera family. Her father, Yu Zhanyuan, was a famous Peking opera wusheng (male lead in a martial role) himself, as well as the master of the renowned Seven Little Fortunes, a performance troupe consisting of the China Drama Academy’s most capable students, among whom Jackie Chan.
This strong background in martial arts led Yu to performing on stage at the age of eight and becoming an established daomadan (female lead in a martial role) as a teenager. Upon moving to Hong Kong, she was immediately cast in a number of martial arts films because of her agility.
Her Peking opera skills gained her leading roles in many opera films and the opportunity to grow close to Cantonese opera actresses such as Tang Bik-wan and Law Yim-hing. The actresses became stage sisters, forming the famous Eight Peonies, of which Yu was dubbed the ‘Black Peony’.
Yu passed away on May 12 this year. The Hong Kong Film Archive honours her life and career by screening nine of her films from the 1960s, five of which are making it to the Archive’s screen for the first time. The selected cover a wide range of genres, from period wuxia (Lui Bo, 1961) to opera (The Invincible Yeung Generals, 1961), to mystery (The Story of Wong Ang the Heroine, 1960) romantic comedy (Bachelors Beware, 1960) highlighting Yu’s versatility as an actress.
Please note that Bachelors Beware is in Mandarin and the other films are in Cantonese. All films are without subtitles.