A martial arts film legend has now entered the temple of the Heavens.
The iconic Jimmy Wang Yu, who was immortalized when he played the titular One-Armed Swordsman in the late Chang Cheh‘s 1967 film, has passed away just days after celebrating his 79th birthday. The news was confirmed by his daughter Linda Wong, an actress/singer in the entertainment industry.
Wang was born in Taiwan on March 28, 1943 as Wang Zhengquan in Shanghai, the Wang family moved to Taiwan shortly after. Wang would serve time in the Taiwanese army and become a competitive swimmer in his early days. In 1963, he joined the world famous Shaw Brothers in Hong Kong and appeared in bit parts until getting a co-starring role opposite Cheng Pei-Pei in the sequel to Come Drink with Me, Golden Swallow in 1967.
That same year, director Chang Cheh selected Wang to take the lead role in The One-Armed Swordsman, which was a major hit upon its release. Wang would reprise the role in 1969’s Return of the One-Armed Swordsman and a crossover film, Zatoichi and the One-Armed Swordsman. Wang also would play The One-Armed Boxer in 1972, which helped solidify his trademark as a superior single-armed fighter on screen.
The Chinese Boxer was also a pioneering martial arts film in 1970. The film, which Wang starred and directed, would be the first to feature the classic Chinese kung fu against Japanese karate rivalry that would be solidified a year later by Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury and many others. Wang continued making films until 1997 until his retirement to focus on business endeavors.
In 2011, Wang was invited to make a comeback in the lead villain role opposite Donnie Yen in Wu Xia. It was a welcome back role for Wang, who would go on to make one more film, Soul, in 2013 before hanging it up due to ongoing health issues. Wang had suffered a mild stroke in 2011 followed by another in 2015, which officially forced him into retirement until his passing.
Wang is survived by daughters Linda, Carol, and Maria, with their mother being the late actress Jeanette Lin Tsui, who died in 1995 at the age of 60.
Jimmy Wang Yu’s legacy will forever be remembered. WorldFilmGeek offers its condolences to the family of Jimmy Wang Yu. Here is a 3-part interview, one of Wang’s last, at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center, NYC, thanks to YouTube user Pat C.
Rest in Peace, Jimmy Wang Yu.