In my younger days, I had the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from the many directors at Shaw Brothers, including Chang Cheh, Chor Yuen, Cheng Kang and Hsu Tseng-hung. My most unforgettable experience is when the great director Lo Wei gave me an important opportunity—to become a director. I feel lucky to have directed in Hong Kong Lucky Diamond, with Antia Mui and Alex Man Chi-leung.
In my lengthy career, I had collaborated with many actors, who are all talented in their own ways and worthy of appreciation. I believe Anita Mui is an exceptional actor and singer who was extremely serious about her work; she was never late and was not intimidated by hardship and danger. I admire her a great deal.
I am lucky to grow up in a martial arts household. When I was young, my father Yuen Siu-tin would give me martial arts lessons, which I loved very much. When I was in Hollywood, the local sound mixer arranged the recordings of my voice from conversations on the set into a song, which for me was totally unexpected. If I stopped being a director, perhaps I should think about recording an album!
Son of legendary martial arts choreographer Yuen Siu-tin, Yuen Cheung-yan and his brothers—Yuen Wo-ping, Sunny Yuen Shunyee, Yuen Yat-chor, Brandy Yuen Chun-yueng, Yuen Lungchu— began to study Chinese martial arts under his father. Yuen Cheung-yan spent his early years in the business as a martial arts performer and stunt double. In the late 1960s, he worked mostly as an assistant action choreographer, helping Tong Kai in designing action sequences for Chang Cheh’s Have Sword, Will Travel (1969), Vengeance! (1970) and The Wandering Swordsman (1970). By the mid-1970s, Yuen was already an esteemed professional in his own right. During that period, he collaborated with directors the likes of Chor Yuen and Ho Menghwa on acclaimed pictures such as Killer Clans (1976), The Criminals (1976) and The Dragon Missile (1976).
From the late 1970s to the early 1980s, a kung-fu craze swept into Taiwan and Yuen began travelling between there and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Yuen Wo-ping had come to prominence at Golden Harvest and rounded up his brothers to form the stunt troupe “The Yuen Clan” and, with the backing of Golden Harvest, formed Peace Film Production. Yuen Cheung-yan was involved with most of the satellite company’s productions, including Dreadnought (1981), The Miracle Fighters (1982), Legend of a Fighter (1982).
Taoism Drunkard (1984), also a Peace Film product, became the directorial debut of Yuen. The Yuen Clan has become the foremost name in action choreography while Yuen Cheung-yan has participated in the action design of over 100 films so far, including The Grandmaster (2013) and Once Upon a Time in Shanghai (2014) of late. He was also the action choreographer of the Hollywood film Daredevil (2003).
Besides designing action scenes, Yuen is also fond of making onscreen cameos. Since the 1960s, he has appeared in over 150 films. He was a vagabond in the films King of Beggars (1992) and Kung Fu Hustle (2004). He was often cast to play a drunkard (as in Taoism Drunkard) or an old lady (as in Forbidden City Cop, The Miracle Fighters and Shaolin Drunkard, etc).
Thanks to actor-director Lo Wei, Yuen got an opportunity to direct his sophomore film in 1984, the kung fu comedy Lucky Diamond (1985), starring Antia Mui and Alex Man Chi-leung. He went on to direct a number of films in the 1980s and 1990s, and his latest is Kung Fu Man (2013), co-directed with Chinese director Ning Ying.
|Year||Chinese name||English name||Directors|
||Kung Fu Man|
||Kung Fu Vampire|
||Coup de Grace|
||Here Comes a Vampire|
||Darkside of Chinatown|