Shih Kien

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Shih Kien
Chinese name 石堅 (traditional)
Chinese name 石坚 (simplified)
Pinyin Shí Jiān (Mandarin)
Jyutping Sek6 Gin1 (Cantonese)
Birth name Shek Wing-cheung
(simplified Chinese: 石荣璋; traditional Chinese: 石榮璋; pinyin: Shí Róngzhāng)
Born (1913-01-01)1 January 1913
Shigang Village, Panyu, Guangdong, China
Died 3 June 2009(2009-06-03) (aged 96)
Hong Kong
Years active 1949–1995
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Shek.

Shek Wing-cheung (1 January 1913 – 3 June 2009), better known by his stage name Shih Kien (Cantonese: Shek Kin; Mandarin: Shi Jian), was a Hong Kong-based Chinese actor. Shih is best known for playing antagonists and villains in several early Hong Kong wuxia and martial arts films that dated back to the black-and-white period, and is most familiar to Western audiences for his portrayal of the primary villain, Han, in the 1973 martial arts film Enter the Dragon, which starred Bruce Lee.[1][2]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Shih was raised by his stepmother and was a sickly child. He decided to practise martial arts to improve his health and trained for nine years. Shih trained at Shanghai's Chin Woo Athletic Association and was among the first generation of students at the school to be certified as instructors. After becoming certified to teach styles, including Eagle Claw and Choy Li Fut, he decided to start his career as an actor. However, the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War caused his studies to be disrupted. Shih and his friends travelled between Guangzhou and Hong Kong to stage drama performances, in order to raise funds as part of the anti-Japanese movement. Besides acting on stage, Shih also participated in back-stage activities, such as makeup and arrangements of lighting and props.

Career[edit]

In 1940, Shih officially entered the entertainment industry as an apprentice of the Cantonese opera makeup artist Sit Kok-Sin, before becoming an actor later. Shih starred as a Japanese secret agent in his debut film Flower in the Sea of Blood that year. Nine years later, Shih was invited by film director Wu Pang to work with him on a series of Wong Fei-hung-related films. Shih gained fame for his portrayal of the villains in those films and continued to play the role of the antagonist in several films during the first 20 years of his career. Shih's iconic "villain laughter" in the films was later mimicked and parodied by several actors.

In 1973, Shih was chosen to portray the villain in Bruce Lee's martial arts epic Enter the Dragon, in which he played Han, a one-handed triad boss who is highly skilled in martial arts. His character had a final showdown with Lee's character in the ending climax of the film.

In 1975, Shih joined the Hong Kong television station TVB and appeared in several wuxia-themed television series, playing villains again most of the time. However, he had also played the roles of gentlemanly, kind and fatherly characters, such as Cheung Mo-kei's godfather Tse Shun in The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (1978), Lung Koon-sam in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1979), So Tai-pang in The Brothers (1980) and a grandfather in The Feud of Two Brothers (1986). Shih had also taken on dramatic roles in non-wuxia films as well, such as Hong Kong 1941. Later in his career, Shih took on a comedic role with Jackie Chan in The Young Master.

In 1980, Shih was invited to participate in filming a television commercial to promote Ricola's mint candy products with his popular image of a film villain.

Retirement and death[edit]

Shih retired from the entertainment industry in 1992, with the 1994 film HK Adam's Family (奸人世家) specially dedicated to him. He appeared in the 2003 documentary Chop Socky: Cinema Hong Kong at the age of 90.

Shih received the Life Achievement Award in 1996 at the Golden Bauhinia Awards. Seven years later in 2003, Shih received the Professional Achievement Award at the 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards with Cho Tat-wah, who portrayed the protagonist or hero in several of the films they starred together in. In 2006, Shih donated one of his properties to the entertainment industry in support of the development of the industry. Between January and February 2007, the Hong Kong Film Archive showed 13 of Shih's films that were preserved at the archive.

Shih died of kidney failure on 3 June 2009 at the age of 96.[3][4] At the time of his death, Shih was believed to be one of the oldest living successful actors in China.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Shih married Lee Kit-ying in 1936 and they had four sons and two daughters. Shih was initially a non-believer and he converted to Christianity and was baptised after being influenced by Lee, a devout Christian. Lee died of heart failure in June 2009.

Popular culture[edit]

In Hong Kong, the term "Kan Yan Kin" (simplified Chinese: 奸人坚; traditional Chinese: 奸人堅; pinyin: jiānrén jiān; literally: "Villain Kin") was a popular reference to Shih. This nickname was borrowed as the Chinese title for the 2007 TVB comedy drama Men Don't Cry.

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

TV series[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]