I admired Italian neo-realism. I also liked documentaries with social consciousness. I couldn’t do that in Hong Kong but made several in Guangzhou and Shanghai. I also think cinema should not be dominated by only one school. We need diversity: Derek Yee, Wong Jing, Wong Kar-wai, Stanley Kwan and Ann Hui.
(Excerpted from Wong, Ain-ling (ed), An Age of Idealism: Great Wall and Feng Huang Days, Hong Kong Film Archive, 2001, p. 118.)
Bow Fong was born in 1922 in Jiangxi, China. He attended secondary school in Guangxi to flee the Japanese invasion during World War II and started acting in patriotic plays. After graduation, Bow studied law in Guangxi while remaining active in theater, learning from Ouyang Yuqian, a pioneer in modern Chinese theater. He fell in love with actress Liu Su in 1944 and later married her. After the war, Bow was persecuted by Nationalist government for writing a play that overtly criticized the government and he was forced to flee to Hong Kong.
On Ouyang’s recommendation, Bow was given a chance to appear in the films of Yung Hwa, the most established film company in Hong Kong after the war. He played small parts in major productions like The Soul of China (1948) and Sorrows in the Forbidden City (1948), later becoming the lead in such films as The Sins of our Father (1949), Gold Diggers (1952) and Singing Under the Moon (1953). As the film industry began to boom, Bow also had the chance to work for other companies, appearing in over twenty films like Hours Passed the Wedding (1950) and Three Smart Girls (1952).
After Yung Hwa closed, Bow joined Feng Huang, one of the major Mandarin film companies and appeared regularly in the works of Feng Huang as well as its sister company Great Wall. He also performed Mandarin dubbing on Cantonese films.
In 1958, Bow began serving as assistant director for Zhu Shilin, one of Hong Kong’s greatest directors. He also started writing scripts and directing, performing both duties on such films as A Teenage Girl (1960) and Double Twins (1962), both co-directed with Chan Ching-po. His first solo directorial effort was The Reluctant Bridegroom (1964), followed by a steady string of works in the 1960s and 1970s, such as The Adventures of ‘I-Have- Come’ (1966), The Painted Skin (1966) and Collegiate (1970).
One of Bow’s most notable works is Chu Yuan (1977), which he wrote, co-directed (with Hsu Hsin) and starred as the title role. It’s also the only film Bow collaborated with his daughter Paw Heeching, an actress who went on to enjoy a great career. The film was initially withdrawn due to political reasons. Only after the fall of the Gang of Four in China was the film released. It became the first Hong Kong film shown in China after the Cultural Revolution.
After enjoying a long and fruitful career in Mandarin cinema, Bow had a second career acting on television, performing in Cantonese in many drama series in the 1980s and 1990s while also making occasional appearances on film.
In 1999, a few weeks after his wife passed away, Bow, shooting a television serial in Guangxi, where he had met Liu Su, suffered a stroke. He remained paralyzed until his death in 2006.
|Year||Chinese name||English name||Directors|
||Love with the Ghost in Lushan|
||The Warrant of Assassination|
||Shanghai||LO Kwan Hung|
||Chu Yuan||HSU Hsin|
||Jubilant Kwangchow||LO Kwan Hung|
||Destiny of Love|
||I Have Come Again||TANG Lung|
||The Battle of Sha Chia Bund|
||The Cricket and the King||TANG Lung|
||We are Not Married|
||The Adventures of 'I Have Come'|
||The Painted Skin|
||The Cricket & the King||TANG Lung|
||The Reluctant Bridegroom|
||Romance Across the Window||CHAN Ching Po|
||Double Twins||CHAN Ching Po|
||A Teenage Girl||CHAN Ching Po|