Women in Martial Arts: Yuen Qiu 元秋 – The roaring matriarch


With extensive training in Pekinese opera and martial arts tutelage from the great Yu Jim-yuen (who also taught Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Wah), Yuen Qiu began her career as one of the earliest female stuntwomen in the film industry. In 1974, Yuen nabbed a role in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, playing a Japanese karate kicking school girl who rescues 007. She continued with 13 other films and was on track to become as big as Jackie Chan until she decided to settle down and get married.

The film that the marked her major comeback came almost 20 years later – Steven Chow’s international hit, Kung Fu Hustle. Her role as the temperamental, chain smoothing, give-no-fucks landlady of Pig Sty Alley put her back into the limelight and her performance won her the best supporting actress award at the 42nd Golden Horse Film Awards.

The scene where she unleashes the lion’s roar while dressed in curlers and a pink nightgown will forever be etched in our minds. In fact, the role was so memorable that Ann Chiang, a politician in Hong Kong whose speaking manner has been likened to the character, was given ‘Yuen Qiu’ as her nickname. Since Kung Fu Hustle, Yuen Qiu has kept active, appearing in films and drama series in the Mainland and Hong Kong, such as the TVB drama Wudang Rules. The older Yuen gets, the more formidable looking she becomes. Ambrose Li

See also

Women in martial arts
Bringing together the trailblazing ladies who helped forge HK's greatest cinematic legacy. Read more



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