Friday, July 2, 2010

July 3

Happy Birthday to the Chinese Hercules, Yang Sze, known to English-speaking action fans as Bolo Yeung. Bolo has been one of the most menacing villains ever onscreen, often without saying a word:

That's him in Double Impact; he's around 50 years old.

I'm still trying to verify his age; several sources say he was born in 1938, but his personal website says he was born in 1946. His story goes, he was already a renowned weightlifter in the 60's when he swam from the Mainland to Hong Kong to escape communism. He won the Mr Hong Kong weightlifting title for several years by the time he was discovered by the Shaw Brothers, and his acting career began en force.

Western audiences were introduced to Bolo in Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon", where Bolo plays the mastermind's main goon. Bruce and Bolo had been friends for some time, and Bruce even promised they would have a fight scene together in "Game of Death", but that scene was never to be.
The closest to an on-screen spar between the two are these between-takes photos from the set of "Dragon."

sparring w/ Bruce Lee

"Enter the Dragon" was enough to make him a big star in the East. (He even had a doppelganger, Lee Chun-Wa, who tussles with the like of Jackie Chan in 'Drunken Master.') Bolo's next breakthrough was in 1988's "Bloodsport", as Jean Claude Van Damme's nemesis. He became an action-star mainstay, starring alongside Van Damme, Cynthia Rothrock, Billy Blanks...

He even played a good guy in Shootfighter, cast as the sensei forced to fight for his students' honor. The movie has the bonus of pitting Bolo against the evil sensai from the Karate Kid, That Guy Martin Kove:

Now long since AARP eligible, he lives in California as a fitness and martial arts instructor. He announced his retirement from acting in 2008; with nearly 100 films under his belt, that's plenty for fans to discover...

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