Yu So Chow

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Yu So Chow (Chinese: ???; pinyin: Yú Sù Qiu; Yale Cantonese:Jy¹ Sou³ Tsau¹) is a Chinese actress born in Beijing on July 9, 1930 to a Peking opera family. She is the daughter of late Master Yu Jim Yuen who ran the China Drama Academy, a Peking Opera School in Hong Kong, and teacher of many well-known actors.

She started her acting career in 1948 and made over 240 films in the wuxia, kung fu, action, detective and Cantonese opera genres. Her films were successful at the box-office and she was one of the most popular superstars of the 1960 in Asia and Hong Kong.

Yu learned Peking Opera at the age of eight and made her stage debut at the age of nine. She specialized in playing female warrior roles in which she could skillfully demonstrate her footwork by continuously juggling and kicking back twelve red-tasselled tuo shou (??) spears, as seen in one of her famous stage Peking operas, The White Snake (???), and in the 1951 film Amazon on the Sea (?????).

Her first movie was made in 1948, a Mandarin wuxia film called The Kung Fu Couple (??? ). She was one of the three actresses in the 1950s who really knew martial arts. Off the screen, she was virtually a heroine: at the age of sixteen, she alone successfully fought off a group of gangsters with only a silky belt on the streets of Shanghai. She was able to do all the stunts, punches and acrobatic skills by herself in all her action films.

Her early wuxia pictures from 1948 to 1957 were in both Mandarin and Cantonese dialogue, with stories intended to increase cooperation of the Northern Style and Southern Style of martial arts, as seen in The heroine of deadly darts (???????) in 1956. These remarkable wuxia films were mostly based on kung fu novels, e.g. Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery Pt 1 & Pt 2 (?????) in 1950, The Golden Hairpin Pt 1 & Pt 3 (????) in 1963, Buddha’s Palm Pt 1 to Pt 4 (????) in 1964 and The Burning of Pingyang City (?????) in 1965.

Her performances in Cantonese opera were quite different; she brought in a mixture of Peking Opera, in which she performed a lot of footwork, as in Suet Ting Shan and Fan Lai Hua – Meeting on the Weedy River (?????) in 1961, Giving birth on the bridge – the White serpent (????) in 1962 and How Zhong Wuyan Conquered the West (???????) in 1962. She also played a male lead as seen in movies Execution of Lui Po at Pak Moon Lau (??????) in 1961, Two hunters in a pursuit (???????) in 1962 and The beauties (?????) in 1964. Apart from action films, she did a few rare contemporary and melodrama films, for example Midsummer night’s romance (????) in 1953, Bachelors beware (???) in 1960 and Two mouthy ladies from the north and south (?????) in 1965.

Her golden age of filming was between 1963 and 1966 ,when she made at least thirty movies in a year. Despite her fame and her leading position, she did take part in movies as a villainous woman, a role usually rejected by other actresses who were afraid of damaging their image. However, Yu proved that her talent in acting was not limited to action films. Her surprise roles in The big revenge part 1 and 2 (???????) (1963) and Heaven, Hell and Crystal Palace (???????) (1965) did not destroy her popularity nor upset her fans; instead they won the hearts of the audience.