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Hei Meigui

Gordon Liu (Aka. Liu Chia-Hui, Lau Kar-Fei)- Information, Updates, Discussion & Appreciation

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I was suppose to meet Gordon Liu and Chen Kuan Tai in South Florida a couple years ago, I was so bummed out to find out Gordon couldn't make it, later found out he had a stroke, good to see him doing better, I hope he knows how many fans he still has around the world.

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Guest Anonymous

Has anyone seen the Gordon Lui movie where he plays a Chinese Taekwondo coach and recruits this new girl who is not very good at all. It is sort of a martial arts drama about Taekwondo competition and she has to do this sacrifice kick. Gordon Lui plays a coach and does not do any martial arts in it but it is still cool. I forgot the name of this movie. I watched it on youtube years ago but cannot find it anymore.

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Guest Anonymous
Okay now I will definitely have to hunt that down!

Yes it is very cool. It must have been filmed after he had a stroke because he looked old. It is a cute story about a girl who has to get inner-strength and determination to prove herself that she belongs on their Taekwondo team. It is a fun movie and motivational etc. Of course she is weak at first and gets beat up.

I like this movie because it is a Taekwondo movie and I train in Taekwondo. Its fun to watch other martiala rts represented in movies besides random Chinese kung fu. Oh and what is interesting is it is a CHINESE movie set in China about a Korean martial art sport.

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Has anyone seen the Gordon Lui movie where he plays a Chinese Taekwondo coach and recruits this new girl who is not very good at all. It is sort of a martial arts drama about Taekwondo competition and she has to do this sacrifice kick. Gordon Lui plays a coach and does not do any martial arts in it but it is still cool. I forgot the name of this movie. I watched it on youtube years ago but cannot find it anymore.

Here you go: (and this would be pre-stroke. He hasn't done anything since he had the stroke)

https://asianfilmstrike.wordpress.com/tag/gordon-liu/

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I found this old pic!! :rofl

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I can not for the life of me find any video or the name of the band that Gordon had where he was playing in when he had his stroke. Can anyone help?

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Here is the link to one of the websites devoted to him. He is so adorable as a boy!!

http://www.gordon-liu.com/about-gordon

A little news  clip about his birthday this past August 22

https://sg.entertainment.yahoo.com/news/gordon-liu-celebrates-64th-birthday-035200641.html

 An article of appreciation on Den of Geek

http://www.denofgeek.us/movies/36th-chamber-trilogy/248232/the-36th-chamber-trilogy-essential-kung-fu-movie-viewing

 

And a clip for your viewing pleasure!! Introduction nor  translation needed!!

 

 

 

Edited by Hei Meigui

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more and more! I keep checking for news and updates on his health but have not been able to find anything recent. If anyone knows please update us. It breaks my heart to not be able to hear about his progress. I know that in China people are more respectful about the personal lives of stars unlike here But still...this is a case where I wish that wasn't so.

 

 

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Hey,Sis and fellow chambermates,here's an interview with Gordon Liu that you may not have seen.Hope you all enjoy...

Gordon Liu: Superstar of martial arts cinema.Interview conducted courtesy of Blitz martial art magazine.

 

Best known for playing larger-than-life heroic roles such as Monk San-Te in the classic The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978), Gordon Liu is one of the superstars of the golden era of Hong Kong martial arts cinema. After his debut, he rapidly earned recognition for his strong performances and applying his real kung fu skills in epic martial arts sequences, playing many leading roles in fictional and historical kung fu epics for over three decades, including Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Billseries and Tsui Hark’s Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. Blitz’s US kung fu correspondent Emilio Alpanseque recently spoke to the legend about his kung fu and silver screen career.

 

 

Master Liu, can you please tell us about your early years?

I was born in Guangdong, China in 1955. My family moved to Hong Kong and that is where I started to learn martial arts at the school of Lau Kar-Leung’s father, Lau Cham, a highly respected Hung Gar master.

 

His school was near my home, so I used to skip school and sneak into his classes. I practised for three years without my parents knowing about it. Eventually, Lau Cham and his wife accepted me as part of the Lau family clan.

 

In Chinese tradition, disciples usually receive the name of their master upon acceptance, which explains how I got the stage name of Lau Kar-Fai. Now, since I started working in the movies for a branch of the Shaw Brothers Studios that opened in Taiwan, my name was credited then in Mandarin as Liu Jia-Hui, which later became Gordon Liu in English.

 

So, just to let our readers know, the Lau family clan is one of the most important sources of talent in Hong Kong movies since the days of the old Wong Fei-Hong movies, right?

 

Yes, exactly. Lau Cham participated alongside Wong Tak-Hing and Shek Kin in those fabulous series, usually playing Lam Sai Wing, his real-life master. I was a big fan of this series when growing up. Little did I know that later I would become the adoptive brother of Lau Kar-Leung, one of the real sons of Lau Cham, who worked in the industry since very young and today is one of the most important actors, choreographers and directors behind the kung fu movie genre.

 

Actually, my relationship with Lau Kar-Leung is kind of special because he’s been my adopted brother, my mentor and my friend all at the same time.

 

So, what were your first real steps in the movie industry?

 

Martial arts, dancing, singing and playing guitar all were my real interests. During the ’60s, I used to have regular office work until Lau Kar-Leung asked me to act in one of his films. As I said before, I first worked in Taiwan doing stunts and small roles, I had my first major role in a movie called Shaolin Martial Arts (1974), directed by the famous director Chang Cheh. Then, as Lau Kar-Leung left his role as Chang Cheh’s fight choreographer in order to pursue his own career as a director in Hong Kong, he cast me as the leading role in several of his films such as Challenge of the Masters (1976), Shaolin Challenges Ninja (1978) and of course, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin(1978).

 

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin was your first major hit — can you tell us a few interesting things about this movie?

 

There are so many things! This movie is actually a story partly based on the history of the Shaolin Temple and the Shaolin martial arts in general. So, as a movie, it was not only entertaining, but it also helped to spread some of the traditions of the old days. Lau Kar-Leung was the director and worked very hard to design all the choreography for the movie; as you know we originally practised Hung Gar, therefore our style is presented throughout the movie — of course, not all of it, but in shorter segments here and there.

 

So, in that sense, I was very happy to work on this movie. What I did not like was to have to shave my head once the character was forced to hide in the Shaolin Temple (laughs).

 

But, wasn’t your intimidating monk image one of the features that made you famous?

 

Unfortunately, yes, and I was both upset and uncomfortable. During those days it was not normal to wear a shaved head on the street; perhaps only criminals or medical patients would. I remember I had all kinds of wigs to wear outside of the studios, even at home. But there is no doubt that audiences seemed to like me better like that.

 

So, what is the actual historical accuracy of these accounts?

 

In terms of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, there are historical records that indicate that monks and secular men lived in the Shaolin Temple and participated in campaigns against the Qing Dynasty rulers. My character, Lau Ye-Tak, who later became Monk San-Te, is also mentioned in history. Now, was he the one who arranged the possibility for laymen to start learning Shaolin martial arts?

 

We certainly do not know that. But again, these movies took facts from our martial arts history and elaborated scripts around them for storytelling purposes.

 

I guess that explains why you can find many characters like Luk Ah-Choy (another real-life Hung Gar ancestor) in the same movie. But, elements like the 18 Bronze Men, the 36th Chamber or even the Southern Shaolin Temple itself; did they really exist?

 

Nobody can tell this for sure; we like to believe it as this is all part of the history that has been passed to us from generation to generation. It’s part of our cultural tradition. It can also be found in classic literature, novels, etc. You can call it unofficial or informal history. The kung fu movie genre has made extensive use of informal history, starting from the old black and white films until today.

 

Nevertheless, the inventive training sequences of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin were outstanding.

 

Oh, yes. It took us nearly two months to complete this movie. The main intention of the director, apart of working upon the fact that secular men were allowed at the temple, was to show that real kung fu relies on the use of weapons but more on the practitioner’s own capabilities such as his balance, concentration, eyesight, hearing, etc.

 

As a result, each training chamber inside the temple was designed with that concept in mind and, in reality, I must say that many of those training methods can be found in actual martial arts training systems; many reminded me of my own training back in the day! After all, apart from Bruce Lee in the ’70s, it was Lau Kar-Leung who was the first one to bring real kung fu to the movies instead of using Peking Opera-based choreography with stylised fighting moves with no real application. That was the traditional Shaw Brothers-style action at its best — very hard to make.

 

But I consider the Chinese opera choreography can be very intricate and useful for the movies, too; long weapon fights and acrobatics, for example.

 

Sure, we have to remember that the actual movie screen is very big; therefore, all techniques used must also have great amplitude in order to look good. So there is room for those stylised battles and acrobatics. However, Peking Opera and martial arts are very different. For kung fu movies, precision, power, and clarity in the movements are a must.

 

In addition, during those days we used long takes of more than 50 movements, so it cannot be said that the camera work or the editing was used to cover up any lack of skill in us. It was very gruelling for us to shoot a movie under such conditions. But today, you don’t see that anymore, all you see is action scenes that consist of so many short takes and quick editing.

 

Definitely true. So after the success of this movie, what was next?

 

Well, we had around 20 years of movies at the Shaw Brothers. We did many straight kung fu classics such as Legendary Weapons of China (1982). Director Lau Kar-Leung also was the first one to bring comedy into the genre with movies like Dirty Ho (1979) and Return to the 36th Chamber (1980).

 

Oh yes, the one with all the bamboo scaffolding techniques? This movie had great training sequences, comedy and great kung fu action.

 

That’s correct. It follows up the original but I do not play Monk San-Te anymore; instead, I play a man who actually tries to pretend to be Monk San-Te to help his brother. It worked at first, but of course, eventually he is revealed and was beaten up. As a result, he decides to enter the Shaolin Temple to learn the real thing. Once inside the training, he is not allowed to learn kung fu directly, and this is when the bamboo scaffolding comes in.

 

Notice the film doesn’t mention any weapons, no swords, no spears, but when you know kung fu, anything on your hands can become a weapon. And scaffolding proved to be another type of Shaolin training. Actually, it was very tough to do (laughs). For example, you use your hands to tie the scaffolds, your legs to kick the heavy bamboo rods and your waist to control your balance. Not to mention the fear of heights that you can feel on top of those structures.

 

Very interesting. So, with all this extensive experience, have you directed any films?

 

I starred in and directed an independent film called Shaolin and Wu Tang (1981). It was very well received both by the critics and the box office; but I thought that directing and acting at the same time was too troublesome to do, so I continued to work as an actor in many other films. In 1986, I left the Shaw Brothers and spent a number of years starring in Taiwanese television series. During this time I also formed my own production company, which produced over 10 independent films.

 

In 1989, Hong Kong’s leading television station invited me to join their network, so I moved back to Hong Kong and continued to work regularly in Hong Kong movies as well. I worked with all the most renowned Hong Kong actors such as Yuen Biao in Peacock King (1988), Jet Li in Last Hero in China (1993), Andy Lau in Drunken Master III (1994), Chow Yun-Fat in Treasure Hunt (1994), and many others.

 

You also worked with Leung Kar-Yan — you were on a TV series with him and Yuen Biao called Real Kung Fu.

 

Oh sure, I have worked with Leung Kar-Yan since the old days at the Shaw Brothers studios. His career is as old as mine. Leung Kar-Yan is a member of the old generation. We worked together in movies as old as Shaolin Martial Arts (1974) for Chang Chen.

 

Is it true that he had no martial arts background?

 

Leung Kar-Yan was a special individual with a great physique and lots of charisma for the screen. He was very fit and capable of doing almost anything a director asked him, but yes, he had no true kung fu or [Chinese] opera background despite the fact that he has successfully done so many kung fu films. He was indeed phenomenal.

 

But after doing so many films, doesn’t this equate to having years of practice in kung fu?

 

Very little, very little. Actors and acrobats may learn how to do the movements from their martial art directors on the set, but they won’t go through the actual training that martial arts require. They cannot perform full routines. Let’s take Tiger and Crane boxing of Hung Gar for example; they may learn how to mimic some of the moves and have great reaction in front of the camera, but they won’t remember much after the film is done.

 

Now, moving forward, what can you tell us about your work in the Kill Bill series?

 

Well, in 2002, director Quentin Tarantino, a long-time fan of the Shaw Brothers’ movies, was able to cast me for his own productions. In Kill Bill, Vol.1 (2003) I played a small but memorable role as Johnny Mo, a masked member of a Yakuza army called the Crazy 88. Then, the following summer, I returned for the sequel, Kill Bill, Vol.2 (2004), but this time, I had a more substantial role as the kung fu master Pai Mei (‘The White Eyebrow’), who was the mentor of Uma Thurman’s character in the movie. It was a lot of fun to make these movies and Tarantino was very impressed with my physique, especially at my age (laughs).

 

And yet, you played a similar character later in True Legend (2010) for director Yuen Woo-ping. Now, what has been your latest project?

 

My last work so far was in the movie The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (2011), a new twist on the classics Dragon Gate Inn (1966) and New Dragon Gate Inn (1992), shot entirely in 3D and directed by Tsui Hark. In this film I play a Ming Dynasty eunuch called Wan Yu-Lou and had the opportunity to face off against Jet Li in a very interesting fight. Kung fu cinema followers around the world should be happy with this movie.

 

Master Liu, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

 

It was my pleasure. A big thank you to all my fans and supporters of the kung fu films. I hope they keep the true spirit of kung fu in their hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Well, I'd just put it on Lau Kar Leung's topic, but since Gordon also appeared in this alongwith him, here you can see the trailer:

below, Gordon at the Rome's premiere of the docu:

 

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