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Yeun Biao’s Undersung Talents – Hong Kong Action Star

Yeun Biao's Undersung Talents - Hong Kong Action Star

As Dreadnaught and Knockabout receive new restorations via Eureka Video, it's time to put this Hong Kong New Wave star in the spotlight.

wooAs an actor and martial artist completing his fifth or sixth consecutive standing backflip on a skipping rope during a comic training set-piece, it may be for many that the name Yuen Biao should be another synonym for Hong Kong action comedy. needed. All his Olympian feats of athleticism. His name is perhaps best known in the West as part of a set that stars one or both of the “Three Dragons”, along with his childhood friend and “older brother” Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan, all of whom Peking Opera came through. Schools with people who become frequent and longtime associates, such as director Cory Yuen.

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Despite his considerable talent, Biao sometimes gets lost in the conversation about Hong Kong New Wave action films – at least from a general Western perspective – especially when compared with his Peking Opera contemporaries. But Biao’s style of performance is both in sync and different from that of Hung and Jackie Chan: the same expert humor timing and willingness to look like a fool, combined with speed and flexibility, with a talent for dazzling acrobatics that distinguishes the two. is . You can see this in his work with his Peking Opera brethren in the ‘Lucky Stars’ trilogy, which begins with Winners and Sinners, or Dragons Forever, the final film of the three together.

thanks new eureka videos Biao takes center stage in the restorations of Sammo Hung’s Knockabout and Yeun Wu-ping’s Dreadnought. Knockabout is an early career highlight for the actor, who by that time worked primarily as a stuntman and extra, doubling down for the likes of Bruce Lee. The film completely transcended him from co-starring, and with a title that literally means ‘slapstick comedy’, Biao’s first starring role perfectly epitomizes it, playing a mischievous con artist playing a formidable character. turned into a fighter.

He begins as a double act opposite Liang Chia-zhen, playing his brother and partner in crime, displaying infectiously goofy onscreen chemistry. Together, even the most nerdy siblings in the film bring with them a nimble athleticism. It’s heartening to see Yuen doing scenes like this with both his physicality and effortless comic timing and an effortless aura of confidence. Although it begins as a two-hander, the story is gradually handed over to Yuen as the story progresses and becomes a showcase for his acrobatic ability. The final 20-minute fight in particular is as scintillating display of the choreography and breathtaking physical ability of the cast as it is intentional, wonderfully stupid. Biao’s character embraces the “monkey style”, running around and blinking with alternating jumps and kicks, before he and Sammo Hung’s character recall a deadly version of jump rope training. Do.

In Yuen Woo-ping’s action-comedy-horror Dreadnought, Yuen plays an incredibly different protagonist, to the point where he feels the exact opposite of that first starring role. Initially decentralized by the film’s various opposing ties to the community, he plays the helpless and clumsy outsider Mausi, who eventually becomes the film’s Dalit hero. A commonly cited aspect of Hong Kong’s action heroes is their willingness to be hit and even humiliated, but even with that in mind, to the cowardice shown by Auntie. is a specification. He makes his way comically through most of the film. Instead of a confidence, she’s a pushover in the grifter’s pose here, which feels like a direct rebuttal to that first starring role.

Dreadnought is already unique among Yun Biao canon in its focus on patiently slasher horror over action set-pieces, but its driving force is Yuen’s clever deployment of talents. Still early in his career, Biao was building an onscreen persona, but Dreadnought already feels like an unexpected sabotage of his athletic talent—by making him play a coward. After being front and center in Knockabout, Biao begins to film Dreadnought on the sidelines, with the sweetness and charm of almost every man that makes him so beloved in many of his later works. He’s an innocent and well-meaning fool from the jump in Wu-Ping’s film, a bit more in line with the kind of roles he’d play in films like Wheels on Meals with Jackie and Samo – helpless rather than cunning, But attractive all the same. It’s a perfect fit for Dreadnought, which contrasts the brutality that feels like a martial arts slasher movie when “White Tiger” becomes a local serial killer.

It’s a tough link to show this constant physical vulnerability and remain a solid action lead, but Biao manages it like few others while remaining confident in his athletic ability without compromising his character. His victories don’t come through vigorous training or transformation, as in Knockabout, but something his character already knows – his “laundry of kung fu”. A number of variants appear in his later work, as a stern but quiet authoritative type, often playing sweet-tempered comic relief characters, but the contrast between his leading roles in these two films suggests that Whatever his contemporaries do, he can as well do—and throw on some extra somersaults for good measure.

smokeless And dreaded Available via Eureka Video.

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Ketya Cerny