Films at the Gate’s Jean Lukitsh introduces us to the Fung family, many of whom have played a role in films we’ve shown over the years and this season as well. Thanks Jean!
From Hong Kong to Hollywood, show business tends to be a family affair. Once an actor or director finds success, doors open for his or her children. It was true for Bruce Lee, who was the son of a Cantonese opera actor who crossed over into films. While still a child, and long before his kung fu career brought him worldwide fame, Lee regularly appeared in melodramatic tearjerkers that were immensely popular with Hong Kong audiences. His best known role from this period was as A Chang in THE KID (1950), which was directed by another Cantonese opera veteran, Fung Fung.
Fung Fung, who was born in 1916 and died in 2000, made over 200 movies in a career that began around 1937 and stretched until the early 90s. He specialized in martial arts and action films, and played the hero until he suffered a facial deformity in an accident that occurred shortly after filming THE KID. He plays a noble gangster who protects the weak and sacrifices himself in order to set A Chang back on the path of righteousness in THE KID, but after the accident, he was more in demand as a villain. He can be seen in Jackie Chan’s THE YOUNG MASTER as one of the evil kung fu school’s henchmen, and his deft comic timing and interplay with Chan during the final fight scene act as welcome counterpoint to the brutality Chan must endure before his final triumph – a triumph inadvertently triggered by Fung’s actions.
Three of Fung Fung’s children followed him into the Hong Kong film industry. His daughters Siu Bo and Bo Bo were child actresses, and Fung Bo Bo, once known as “the Chinese Shirley Temple,” continues to work in film and television in Hong Kong. His son Fung Hak-on became a well respected stuntman, kung fu actor, and choreographer. He can be seen in THE YOUNG MASTER as one of the two outlaws who recruit Jackie Chan’s brother to join their gang. Like his youngest sister, he is still active in the Hong Kong film industry. He played one of the blind assassins in Stephen Chow’s KUNG FU HUSTLE, and he can be seen in last year’s Donnie Yen hit IP MAN 2, where he played one of the Hong Kong masters who challenge Yen to a tabletop fight. –Jean Lukitsh