Kung Fu Film Legend Jimmy Wang Yu Passes Away

Jimmy Wang Yu
Legendary martial arts film star Jimmy Wang Yu passed away Tuesday in Taiwan at the age of 79 after a long illness. Born Jimmy Cheng-chuan Wang in Shanghai, Wang would make his name in Hong Kong movies becoming the biggest name in Asian martial arts cinema while paving the way for the likes of Bruce Lee.

Though his athletic background was in swimming rather than kung fu, fine fight choreography managed to make Wang look like an expert and won him a legion of fans. He catapulted to fame with the 1967 wuxia classic "One-Armed Swordsman" then revolutionized the martial arts film industry in 1970 by writing, directing and starring in "The Chinese Boxer." The latter movie changed the focus of Hong Kong martial arts cinema from fantasy-based swordsmanship to gritty, barehanded kung fu fighting which would open the door for Lee and others to make names for themselves in the film industry.

Though he would go on to make dozens of movies, Wang's career was filled with controversy including banishment from Hong Kong films after breaking his studio contract, as well as allegations of domestic abuse and even an accusation of murder, though the charge was eventually dropped.

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