Soon Tsan-so sometimes credited as Sung Tsan-shou, was born in Jiangdu in 1930. After completing high school in his hometown, he moved to Hong Kong in 1949 and study journalism while working as an accountant’s trainee to support himself. He met King Hu, also an accountant’s assistant at the time, and the two hit it off immediately, often watching films together. When Hu joined the Mandarin film industry working on art design, he introduced Soon to director Li Han-hisang, who then recommended Soon to join actor-director Lo Wei’s production company, working on such projects as the script of Lo’s River of Romance (1955).
After joining Shaw Brothers in 1956, Soon wrote Richard Poh’s The Unforgettable Night (1958), Chiang Nan’s Miss Songbird (1959) and served as assistant director on Yen Chun’s A Shot in the Dark (1960) and Li Han-hisang’s blockbuster The Love Eterne (1963), a huangmei opera film. In 1963, he co-founded Grand Motion Picture with Li in Taiwan and was the assistant director for the Li-directed films Seven Fairies (1963), Trouble on the Wedding Night (1964) and Hsi Shih Beauty of Beauties (1965).
In 1966, Soon directed his first film, A Perturbed Girl, a huangmei musical. By then, popularity of the huangmei opera film had waned and Soon’s work failed to attract much attention.
Soon got his due a year later, when his adaptation of novelist Chu Hsi-ning’s At Dawn received critical acclaim. At the height of the wuxia genre craze, he directed the action film Iron Petticoat (1968). His adaptation of popular writer Chiung Yao’s romance novel You Can’t Tell Him (1970), despite his own dissatisfaction with the film, generated phenomenal sales. He took a rewarding turn with adaptation two years later, directing Story of Mother (1972) and winning acclaim for his sensitive realization of respected author Yu Li-hua’s novel Mother and Son.
In 1972, Soon married actress Chao Ying-ying and started his own production company with Yok Teng-heung and Yang Woeishyong.
Another significant work is Outside the Window (1973), yet another Chiung Yao adaptation best remembered for introducing the world to a young Brigitte Lin, whose first period film Ghost in the Mirror (1974) was also directed by Soon. In 1975, he directed Hong Kong singer Chelsia Chan in her first film Chelsia My Love, which led to the young actress winning Best Actress at the 14th Golden Horse Film Festival. A Lily in the Valley (1982) was Soon’s last film. In 2001, he was honored with two Lifetime Achievement awards, first at Festival du Film Asiatique de Deauville in March and then at the Golden Horse Film Festival in December.
The gentle and laidback director was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease in his later years and died from pneumonia in Taipei on May 27th, 2008 at age 78.
|Year||Chinese name||English name||Directors|
||A Lily in the Valley|
||I Sing I Cry|
||To You with Love|
||The Song of Love|
||Rainbow in My Heart|
||Fallen Flowers, Flowing Water, the Spring Is Gone|
||Windflower in the Storm|
||Ask My Love from God|
||Legend of the Parrot||YOK Teng Heung|
||The Story of Green House|
||Chelsia My Love|
||Where Have the Lovers Gone|
||He Loved Once Too Many|
||Ghost in the Mirror|
||The Wind of Ghost|
||Hard Man With Guts|
||News Hen||YOK Teng Heung|
||Story of Daisy|
||Outside the Window||YOK Teng Heung|
||The Wind of Ghost|
||Story of a Mother|
||You Don't Tell Him|
||Love is Smoke|
||A Perturbed Girl|