Leo Fong

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Leo Fong
Born
Fung Tin Leon

(1928-11-23)23 November 1928
Died18 February 2022(2022-02-18) (aged 93)
EducationHendrix College (BA)
Southern Methodist University (ThM)
California State University, Sacramento (MSW)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese馮天倫
Simplified Chinese冯天伦
Websitewww.leotfong.com

Leo Fong (Chinese: 馮天倫; 23 November 1928 – 18 February 2022) was a Chinese-American actor, martial artist, boxer, and Methodist minister who had been making films, acting, and directing since the early 1970s. Fong was still acting in action films right up until his early 90s.

Background[edit]

Fong was born on 23 November 1928 in Xinhui county (present Xinhui district of the city of Jiangmen), located in the province of Guangzhou, China. Fong soon relocated to Seattle with his parents and siblings. They were detained for a time, as was common with immigrants from Asia. Upon being released in Seattle, the family traveled to Chicago, where Fong's maternal uncle owned a restaurant in which his father had been guaranteed work. Working at the restaurant, Fong's father saved enough money to purchase a small grocery store in Widener, Arkansas, a small agricultural community. Fong was the victim of racial taunts at school, which often led to fights. Fong eventually took up boxing at age 15.[1]

After graduating from Forrest City High School, Fong attended Hendrix College in Arkansas, where he received a B.A. in physical education. He later received a master's degree in theology from Southern Methodist University. After beginning his career as a Methodist minister, he earned a Master of Social Work from California State University, Sacramento. Fong remained in Northern California, where he continued his martial arts training.[2][3]

His entry into eastern martial arts began in the 1950s with judo and jiu jitsu. Fong has studied and practiced various martial arts styles until he developed his own style, Wei Kuen Do.[4]

Fong was a friend of martial artist Bruce Lee, who arranged for him to appear on the cover of the tenth anniversary edition of Black Belt magazine.[5]

Film career[edit]

1970s[edit]

The first film in which he acted was Murder In The Orient (1974), a Filipino martial arts exploitation film that co-starred Ron Marchini and also featured Eva Reyes and Rodolfo 'Boy' Garcia.[6] In 1975, he starred in Bamboo Trap with Filipino actors George Estregan, Chanda Romero, Eddie Garcia, Rez Cortez and Ron van Clief.[7]

Since the late 1970s, Fong has branched out into writing, directing, and producing films.[8] Some of his films in the seventies to mid-'80s featured the same stock of actors, Cameron Mitchell, Hope Holiday and Stack Pierce.[9][10] [11][12]

1980s to 1990s[edit]

In Killpoint which was directed by Frank Harris, he played Lt. James Long, an L.A based policeman. Long teams up with an FBI agent (played by Richard Roundtree) in hunting down the men that stole weapons from the National Guard armory and they stop them from selling them to street gangs.[13][14] In 1986, he was in another Frank Harris film, Low Blow, that also starred Cameron Mitchell, Akosua Busia, Stack Pierce and Diane Stevenett and Troy Donahue. Long stars as San Francisco based PI Joe Wong, operating from his untidy office. His mission in that film was to rescue a young heiress from a strange religious cult.[15][16] The Wong character was reprised for the 1986 film Blood Street which Fong co-directed with George Chung. His services are requested by a woman who walks into his office one day. She needs Wong to find her missing husband Aldo. Wong embarks on a journey though the world of the criminal. Along the way he encounters a father and son team of Solomon and Bones, played by Stack Pierce and Chuck Jeffreys.[17][18] Wong would appear a third time in Hard Way Heroes that also starred Patrick Johnson, Joseph Guinan and Mel Novak.[19][20]

Long appeared again in the 1993 film Showdown which was about a Mafia retirement village called Sanctuary which is invaded by a biker gang. Werner Hoetzinger, Michelle McCormick, Richard Lynch and Troy Donaghue also appear in the film.[21][22]

2000s[edit]

A more recent film of his is Transformed, a 2005 film with Christian themes and anti-drug message that featured Tadashi Yamashita and Fred Williamson. This was the second time that he had appeared in a film with Williamson. The first was Blind Rage, a 1978 film about a gang of blind men who rob a bank.[23] As well as acting in Transformed, he also directed and produced it, composed the theme song and was involved in the editing.[24] His latest film work includes Drifter TKD, a 2008 film in which he played Master Lee[25] and The Last Musketeer, which he produced.[26]

Work with Len Kabasinski[edit]

Fong co-starred in the 2018 film, Challenge of Five Gauntlets, which was directed by Len Kabasinski.[27] In a review of the film, film reviewer, The Cinema Drunkie gave it a very good review, saying that the move ruled and it was Len's finest work yet!. There was also the comment on Leo Fong saying the standout had to be the man the myth and Mr Low Blow himself, and how great it was to see him kicking ass again.[28] John M Jerva of Action-Flix.com said that it was a throw back to the great days of the 80's when films of this type swarmed the shelves of the video stores.[29] Fong's last role was in another Kabasinski film, Pact of Vengeance which was released in 2022. He played the part of Zian, the owner of Champion's Garage[30] who turns to his old outfit “The Obliterators” to help deal with an extortion gang who have attacked his granddaughter. Jon Mikl Thor, Diamante and Peter Avalon also star in the film.[31]

Fongsploitation[edit]

Over the years, Fongsploitation, a type of Exploitation film subgenre attached to Fong has been noted. In a 2015 review of Enforcer from Death Row, Johnny Larue's Crane Shot refers to the film as " one of the earliest Fongsploitation classics".[32] In a review of Killpoint and Low Blow, the Good Efficiency Butchery review site gave the heading "Retro Review, Special Fongsploitation Edition: KILLPOINT (1984) and LOW BLOW (1986)" for the review of the two films.[33]

Personal life and death[edit]

Fong died on 18 February 2022, at the age of 93.[34] He is survived by his wife Minerva, sons Ismael and Steven, daughter Toni, his grandchildren, his youngest sister, nephews and nieces.[35]

Selected filmography[edit]

Actor

Publications[edit]

  • Choy Lay Fut Kung-Fu by Leo Fong
  • Si Lum Kung-Fu: The Chinese art of Self-Defense by Leo Fong
  • Power Training in Kung-Fu by Ron Marchini and Leo Fong[36]

Fighting Style[edit]

Wei Kuen Do (Way of the Integrated Fist): A complete system based on its roots in Jeet Kune Do, Serrada Escrima, Western Boxing, Choy Lay Fut, Northern Shaolin, Wrestling, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Judo, Jujutsu, Arnis, and Wing Chun. As of March 24, 2017 Leo Fong assigned a three-man council to continue promoting and overseeing his art of Wei Kuen Do. The council members are Jeff Jeds, Klein Buen, and Bong Tumaru.

References[edit]

  1. ^ USADojo.com, September 4, 2013 - Leo Fong Leo Fong Wei Kuen Do
  2. ^ "Leo Fong: Kung Fu Artist Of The Year (2006) | Black Belt Magazine". blackbeltmag.com. 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  3. ^ Frank, Bram (2017-11-09). FMA Grandmasters and Masters. Lulu.com. ISBN 9781312835023.
  4. ^ LeoTFong.com
  5. ^ "Bruce Lee, Leo Fong And Their Martial Arts Connection, Part 2 | Black Belt Magazine". blackbeltmag.com. 2019-01-01. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  6. ^ Murder in the Orient at IMDb
  7. ^ Bamboo Trap at IMDb
  8. ^ Leo Fong at IMDb
  9. ^ ČSFD.cz - The Last Reunion, Hrají:
  10. ^ Rotten Tomatoes - Killpoint (1984)
  11. ^ Los Angeles Times, June 02, 1986 - Movie Review : 'Low Blow' Takes Aim At The Heights Of Silliness - Michael Wilmington
  12. ^ Letterboxd - Low Blow 1986 Directed by Frank Harris
  13. ^ Rotten Tomatoes - Killpoint (1984)
  14. ^ The Great Cop Pictures, James Robert Parish - Page 314, Page 315
  15. ^ 80s Action Movies on the Cheap: 284 Low Budget, High Impact Pictures, By Daniel R. Budnik - Pages 120 - 121 Low Blow
  16. ^ Los Angeles Times, June 02, 1986 - Movie Review : 'Low Blow' Takes Aim At The Heights Of Silliness - Michael Wilmington
  17. ^ Comeuppance Reviews - Blood Street (1990)
  18. ^ Letterboxd - Blood Street 1988 Directed by George Chung, Leo Fong
  19. ^ Filmweb - Hard Way Heroes (2010)
  20. ^ Cold Heat News, October 27th, 2015 - SAMURAI COP 2’S MATT HANNON “HAS PULLED A LAZARUS”–BACK FROM THE DEAD—THE SEQUEL RAGES ON AFTER A 25 YEAR HIATUS!!
  21. ^ TV Guide - Review
  22. ^ TV Guide - Cast & Crew
  23. ^ Blind Rage at IMDb
  24. ^ Transformed at IMDb
  25. ^ Drifter TKD at the Internet Movie Database
  26. ^ The Last Musketeer at the Internet Movie Database
  27. ^ Letterboxd - Challenge of Five Gauntlets
  28. ^ The Cinema Drunkie, November 23, 2019 - Challenge of Five Gauntlets: The Citizen Kane of Low Budget Martial Arts Action Movies
  29. ^ Action-Flix.com - ACTION-FLIX SPOTLIGHT, CHALLENGE OF THE FIVE GAUNTLETS: One Man Will Take On Five to Save a Life in the Indie Martial Arts Action Extravaganza!
  30. ^ Voices From The Balcony, July 9, 2022 - Pact of Vengeance (2022) Review by Jim Morazzini
  31. ^ Horror News, 23/12/2021 - Len Kabasinski’s PACT OF VENGEANCE – Trailer – Leo Fong, Jon Mikl Thor, and Diamante! by Adrian Helen
  32. ^ Johnny Larue's Craneshot, WEDNESDAY, MAY 13, 2015 - Enforcer From Death Row
  33. ^ Good Efficient Butchery, March 14, 2016 - Retro Review, Special Fongsploitation Edition: KILLPOINT (1984) and LOW BLOW (1986)
  34. ^ 李小龙弟子冯天伦去世,享年94岁,曾与成龙、李连杰合作拍电影 (in Chinese)
  35. ^ Legacy - LEO FONG OBITUARY
  36. ^ Black Belt, March 1984 - Page 18

External links[edit]