Lam Ching Ying

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Lam Ching-ying (Traditional Chinese: ???; real name: Lam Gun-bo ???; 27 December 1952 – 8 November 1997) was a Chinese actor, action director and director. A graceful martial artist and one of the most physically-talented bodies to have graced the screens,[citation needed] Lam was best-known for playing the stoic taoist priest in Mr. Vampire (1985). Lam died in 1997 of liver cancer. The public remembers him for playing taoist priests who specialised in vampires in many different productions.

The third of seven children, Lam was born in Shanghai attended Shun Yi Association Elementary School in Hong Kong for two years before leaving school. In 1963/4, he joined the “other” Peking Opera School in Hong Kong: that of Madame Fan Fok-fa (Fun Guk-fa), the “rival” of Yu Jim Yuen where Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung were trained at around the same time. In actuality, the schools were friends and students from both schools often mingled. A year after joining, Lam made his first public appearance. Madame reported Lam as a disobedient student who was beyond her ability to handle.

At 17, Lam became a stuntman and martial arts coach at the Shaw Brothers Studio. Due to his slender build, he was often called upon to substitute female actors. He received $HK60 a day, $HK20 of which went to his master.

At 19, he was hand-picked by Bruce Lee for the role as assistant action director on The Big Boss. After The Big Boss, Lam continued to work with Lee until Lee’s death. Lam later joined Hung’s stuntman association (known as the Hung Kar Pan).

In 1982, Lam won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Action Direction, in the film Prodigal Son. Prodigal Son featured what is widely acknowledged as amongst the best Wing Chun caught on film, performed by Lam. He also underlined his acting talent by convincingly playing a frail, elderly Taoist priest in The Dead And The Deadly (1983).

Lam’s star did not rise until 1985, with the release of Mr. Vampire, the movie that fueled the hopping vampire genre. Lam was nominated for Best Actor for his role as the taoist priest. The character was an engaging mixture of naivety and stoic authority, and became a favourite for audiences. Lam was to reprise this role many times throughout his career.