Yu So-chow

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yu.
Yu So Chow
Chinese name 于素秋
Chinese name 于素秋 (traditional)
Chinese name 于素秋 (simplified)
Born (1930-07-09) 9 July 1930 (age 86)
Beijing, China
Years active 1948 - 1966
Spouse(s) Mak Bing-wing
Parents Yu Jim Yuen

Yu So Chow (Chinese: 于素秋; pinyin: Yú Sù Qiū; Cantonese Yale: yū sou chāu) is a Chinese actress born in Beijing on 9 July 1930 to a Peking opera family. She is the daughter of late Master Yu Jim Yuen who ran the China Drama Academy, a Peking Opera School in Hong Kong, and teacher of many well-known actors.

She started her acting career in 1948 and made over 240 films in the wuxia, kung fu, action, detective and Cantonese opera genres. Her films were successful at the box-office and she was one of the most popular superstars of the 1960 in Asia and Hong Kong.


Yu learned Peking Opera at the age of eight and made her stage debut at the age of nine. She specialized in playing female warrior roles in which she could skillfully demonstrate her footwork by continuously juggling and kicking back twelve red-tasselled tuo shou (脫手) spears, as seen in one of her famous stage Peking operas, The White Snake (白蛇傳), and in the 1951 film Amazon on the Sea (海上女霸王).

Her first movie was made in 1948, a Mandarin wuxia film called The Kung Fu Couple (宏碧緣 ). She was one of the three actresses in the 1950s who really knew martial arts. Off the screen, she was virtually a heroine: at the age of sixteen, she alone successfully fought off a group of gangsters with only a silky belt on the streets of Shanghai. She was able to do all the stunts, punches and acrobatic skills by herself in all her action films.

Her early wuxia pictures from 1948 to 1957 were in both Mandarin and Cantonese dialogue, with stories intended to increase cooperation of the Northern Style and Southern Style of martial arts, as seen in The heroine of deadly darts (女俠響尾追魂鏢) in 1956. These remarkable wuxia films were mostly based on kung fu novels, e.g. Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery Pt 1 & Pt 2 (火燒紅蓮寺) in 1950, The Golden Hairpin Pt 1 & Pt 3 (碧血金釵) in 1963, Buddha’s Palm Pt 1 to Pt 4 (如來神掌) in 1964 and The Burning of Pingyang City (火燒平陽城) in 1965.

Her performances in Cantonese opera were quite different; she brought in a mixture of Peking Opera, in which she performed a lot of footwork, as in Suet Ting Shan and Fan Lai Hua - Meeting on the Weedy River (蘆花河會母) in 1961, Giving birth on the bridge – the White serpent (斷橋產子) in 1962 and How Zhong Wuyan Conquered the West (鍾無艷掛帥征西) in 1962. She also played a male lead as seen in movies Execution of Lui Po at Pak Moon Lau (白門樓斬呂布) in 1961, Two hunters in a pursuit (文武狀元爭彩鳳) in 1962 and The beauties (陣陣美人威) in 1964. Apart from action films, she did a few rare contemporary and melodrama films, for example Midsummer night’s romance (夏夜之戀) in 1953, Bachelors beware (溫柔鄉) in 1960 and Two mouthy ladies from the north and south (南北鐵咀雞) in 1965.

Her golden age of filming was between 1963 and 1966 ,when she made at least thirty movies in a year. Despite her fame and her leading position, she did take part in movies as a villainous woman, a role usually rejected by other actresses who were afraid of damaging their image. However, Yu proved that her talent in acting was not limited to action films. Her surprise roles in The big revenge part 1 and 2 (灕江河畔血海仇) (1963) and Heaven, Hell and Crystal Palace (天堂地獄水晶宮) (1965) did not destroy her popularity nor upset her fans; instead they won the hearts of the audience.

She married famous Cantonese opera actor, Mak Bing Wing, in 1966. Her last major movie was filmed in Taiwan (Decree of the fire dragon (血火龍令) in 1968) and she made a guest appearance in Secret agent no.1 (神探一號) in 1970. Soon after that she was completely retired from the limelight. She is now settled in San Francisco with her five children.

In 2004, Yu was one of the celebrities honoured on the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong. To date, Yu still holds the record among actresses of making more than 170 wuxia movies. Though she did not gain any international awards before her retirement (because Hong Kong wuxia pictures were accepted internationally only recently), she is recognised as a "queen" of martial artists and actresses by her fans for her devotion to, and excellence in, wuxia films.

Selected filmography[edit]

  • The revenge of the great swordsman Assassin Zhang Wenxiang (大俠復仇記) (1949)
  • The five heroes'deadly spears (五虎斷魂槍) (1951)
  • A story of three lovers, pt 1 & 2 (啼笑姻緣上下集) (1952)
  • A heroine from Mount Emei(峨嵋女俠 ) (1952)
  • The dragon-phoenix swordsmen(龍鳳雙劍俠) (1957)
  • The strange hero conquered the dragon(怪俠赤屠龍) (1960)
  • Conqueress(無敵楊家將) (1961)
  • The secret book, part one (仙鶴神針上下三集) (1961)
  • The village militia, pt 1 & 2 (魔鏡神珠上下集) (1962)
  • The blonde hair monster(黃毛怪人) (1962)
  • The birth of the Monkey King(馬騮精出世) (1962)
  • The Road to the west(唐三藏取西經) (1962)
  • Ingentious swords, pt 1 & 2 (白骨陰陽劍上下集) (1962)
  • Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery pt 1 & 2 (火燒紅蓮寺上下集) (1963)
  • Valiant Pan An (武潘安) (1963)
  • The iron wild goose pt 1 & 2(鐵雁霜翎上下集) (1963)
  • The tiger in hunting(臥虎藏龍) (1963)
  • Pat cham lau lan sai pat wan (不斬樓蘭誓不還) (1963)
  • Spring blossoms(花開富貴錦城春) (1964)
  • The Flying Fox(萬變飛狐) (1964)
  • The invincible kid Fang Shiyu(無敵神童方世玉) (1965)
  • The all-powerful flute pt 1 & 2(簫聲震武林上下集) (1965)
  • Hero of midland(中原奇俠) (1966)
  • Fire dragon and the mythical pearl(火龍神珠) (1966)
  • Heroic days of the Great Ming Dynasty (斷臂神龍劍) (1966)
  • The avengers' tale pt 1 & 2 (鐵血恩仇錄上下集) (1966)

External links[edit]