Wu Ma

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Wu Ma
Chinese name 午馬 (traditional)
Chinese name 午马 (simplified)
Pinyin Wǔ Mǎ (Mandarin)
Jyutping Ng5 Maa5 (Cantonese)
Birth name 馮宏源 (Traditional)
冯宏源 (Simplified)
Féng Hóngyuán (Mandarin)
Fung4 Wang4jyun4 (Cantonese)
Born 22 September 1942
Tianjin, China
Died 4 February 2014(2014-02-04) (aged 71)
Hong Kong
Occupation Actor, director
Years active 1964–2014

Fung Wang-yuen (22 September 1942 – 4 February 2014), better known by his stage name Wu Ma, was a Hong Kong actor, director, producer and writer born in Tianjin, Republic of China. Wu Ma made his screen debut in 1963, and with over 240 appearances to his name (plus 49 directorial credits within a fifty year period), he was one of the most familiar faces in the history of Hong Kong Cinema and best known as the Taoist ghosthunter in A Chinese Ghost Story.[1]

The early years[edit]

Wu was born Feng Hongyuan in Tianjin. At 16 he moved to Guangzhou and became a machinist before migrating to Hong Kong in 1960. In 1962, Wu enrolled in the Shaw Brothers acting course. Graduating a year later, he became a contract player for the studio and made his first appearance in Lady General Hua Mu-lan. He then appeared in such films as Temple Of The Red Lotus (1965), The Knight Of Knights (1966) and Trail Of The Broken Blade (1967). He took on the stage name 'Wu Ma' as it reflected the animal in the year of his birth (the horse), and believed it was short enough for audiences to remember.[citation needed]

During an interview, Wu explained that he had stumbled upon directing when he was offered an unexpected trip to Japan for a movie. The film's original assistant director was unable to clear his visa in time, and Wu was called upon to take his place. After the experience, Wu decided to become a director.

The 1970s[edit]

In 1970, Wu became a director in his own right. His directorial debut, Wrath Of The Sword, was released the same year. In 1971, Wu released one of his seminial works, The Deaf And Mute Heroine. He concentrated on directing in the 1970s, directing several movies - such as Young Tiger (1973) and Wits To Wits (1974). Wits To Wits has been noted as one of the precursors of the knockabout comedy kung fu genre that was later made famous by Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan. Another movie Wu directed, Manchu Boxer (1974), featured Sammo Hung, then a young choreographer and later one of the trend-setters of Hong Kong cinema. This marked the beginning of a strong working relationship between the two, which would become prominent towards the 1980s. He co-directed with his former mentor Chang in several movies - The Water Margin (1972), The Pirate (1973), All Men Are Brothers (1975) and Naval Commandos (1976).

While most of his output during this period was as a director, Wu continued to appear as an actor and appeared both in his own movies and in several others, although his roles were generally limited to small appearances. During the mid-1970s, Wu joined a small exodus who were leaving Shaw Brothers due to corruption within the studio and became an independent director. Despite becoming an independent director, Wu was still able to work closely with some Shaw Brothers stars such as Ti Lung (The Massive (1978)).[citation needed]

The 1980s[edit]

As the 1970s and the era of the martial arts film wound down, Wu Ma's output as a director also slowed. His acting output, however, increased as he became increasingly well known as a character actor. Wu had made appearances in Sammo Hung's 1970s movies (such as Iron Fisted Monk), his association with Hung began in earnest in the early 1980s. Wu appeared in Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980). Throughout the 1980s, Wu and Hung had a close working relationship, often with Wu as the director and Hung as the producer (such as My Cousin The Ghost (1986)). Wu worked in Hung's production company Bo Ho as the production manager, and made appearances in Hung-directed films during the 1980s, including Millionaire's Express (1986) and Wheels on Meals (1984).

Towards the mid-1980s, Wu became one of the most prolific character actors in Hong Kong, his now-rubbery face able to shift effortlessly across a spectrum of emotions. During the 1980s, he received three Hong Kong Film Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor - for Righting Wrongs (1986), where he played a policeman having to deal with his son's death; A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) as Yin Chek-Ha; and in The Last Eunuch In China (1988), as Lord Ting. He began a working relationship with Tsui Hark, and appeared in several of Hark's movies. Aside from A Chinese Ghost Story, Wu also appeared in the earlier Peking Opera Blues (1986).[citation needed]

After A Chinese Ghost Story, said by Wu to be amongst his favourite movies, Wu began to focus on the supernatural genre. Much of his directorial efforts after 1987 were within that genre, such as Portrait Of A Nymph (1988), Burning Sensation (1989) and Fox Legend (1991).


Wu continued his working relationship with Hark, and appeared in Once Upon A Time In China (1991) and Swordsman (1991). The early 1990s were an especially prolific period in Wu's career - with Wu appearing in over 14 movies during one year. As the Hong Kong film industry began to slump, Wu's career also slowed considerably. After appearing in High Risk (1995), many of his appearances were either in low-budget movies or in television series.[citation needed]


Wu was diagnosed with lung cancer and it was announced that the disease started to spread ten months ago. His wife stated that "He have enjoyed every precious minute with his family, which explained that he had casually walked his path with pride and dignity." He died peacefully at his home in Hong Kong on 4 February 2014 at the age of 71.[2]



Year Title Role Notes
1965 Temple of The Red Lotus
1969 The One-Armed Swordsman
1971 The Deaf and Mute Heroine Director
1972 The Water Margin
1974 Wits To Wits Director aka From China With Death and Conman and the Kung Fu Kid
1977 The Iron-Fisted Monk
Boatman in brothel
1978 The Massive
1978 Showdown at the Cotton Mill Director
1980 By Hook or By Crook
1980 Encounters of the Spooky Kind
1981 Prodigal Son
Iron Palm
1983 The Dead and The Deadly
Ma Lun Cheung Nominated - Hong Kong Film Award for Best Director
1983 Project A
Mahjong cheat
1984 Hong Kong 1941
Liu Yan-mau
1984 Hocus Pocus
Production Manager
1984 Pom Pom
Police station employee
1985 Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars
1985 Mr Vampire
Rice shop boss
1986 Peking Opera Blues
Mr. Wong
1986 Righting Wrongs
Uncle Tsai Nominated - Hong Kong Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
1986 Millionaire's Express
1987 A Chinese Ghost Story
Yin Chek Hsia Nominated - Hong Kong Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
1988 Mr Vampire IV
1988 Picture of a Nymp
1988 Last Eunuch in China
Lord Ting Nominated - Hong Kong Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
1989 Miracles
Uncle Hoi
1990 Magic Cop
1990 A Chinese Ghost Story II
Yin Chek Hsia
1990 Story of Kennedy Town
Detective Sergeant Huang
1990 Spooky Family
捉鬼合家欢 II - 麻衣传奇
Ma Yi ancestor Priest
1991 The Gambling Ghost
1991 The Magnificent Scoundrels
1991 The Swordsman
Liu Zhengfeng
1991 Once Upon a Time in China
1992 The Ghost's Bride
Older Brother
1993 Painted Skin
Zhang's Senior
1993 The Sword Stained with Royal Blood
Suen Chung-Sau
1994 Deadful Melody
1994 Master of Zen
Shenguang's master
1995 High Risk
Frankie's father
1996 Iron Monkey 2
Jin's father
2005 House of Fury
Uncle Chiu
2008 Ticket
2009 Chongqing Girl
2010 Here Comes Fortune
2010 Jeet Kune Do
2010 14 Blades
Qiao Yong
2011 White Vengeance
Grand Tutor
2011 I Love Hong Kong
2011 Legendary Amazons
Imperial Tutor Pang
2011 What's Under the Bed
2011 Hand in Hand
2012 If I Were You
2012 Common Heroes
2012 Pen Fairy
2012 No Retreat
2012 Moonlight Love
2012 Decrepit Dream
2012 The Immemorial Magic
2013 Mark of Youth
2013 Don't Talk about High - Rich and Handsome
2013 A Funny Wedding
2014 Shigeshoshi also director
2014 Fighting
2014 A Stupid Journey


Year Title Role Notes
2003 Diao Man Gong Zhu Xiao Yao Wang
Tie Wencheng
2005 Lost City in Snow Heaven
Yang An
2007 The Legend and the Hero
Shang Rong
2007 Sword Stained with Royal Blood
Wen Fangda
2008 When East Meets West
2008 Taste of Happiness
Mei Lan's grandfather
2008 The Qin Empire
Baili Yao
2008 Bing Sheng
Yan Ying
2010 Journey to the West
Elder Jinchi
2012 Cong Ming De Kong Kong
Monk of Black Mountain

[3] [4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wu Ma (1942-2014)". Film Business Asia. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Wu Ma, Best Supporting Actor of A Chinese Ghost Story, dies following lung cancer battle". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 4 February 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Wu Ma profile". imdb.com. Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Wu Ma profile". chinesemov.com. Retrieved 27 February 2010. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Golden Horse Award
Preceded by
Paul Chun
for The Lunatics
Best Supporting Actor
for A Chinese Ghost Story
Succeeded by
Stephen Chow
for Final Justice