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Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild - Directors - Tsan So SOON
宋存壽 | SOON Tsan So

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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
1982 《翹家的女孩》
1982 《老師‧ 斯卡也答》
A Lily in the Valley
1980 《我歌我泣》
I Sing I Cry
1980 《候鳥之愛》
To You with Love
1980 《走不完的路》
The Song of Love
1979 《第二道彩虹》
Rainbow in My Heart
1979 《落花流水春去也》
Fallen Flowers, Flowing Water, the Spring Is Gone
1978 《花非花》
Windflower in the Storm
1978 《此情可問天》
Ask My Love from God
1978 《鸚鵡傳奇》
Legend of the Parrot YOK Teng Heung
1978 《留下一片相思》
The Story of Green House
1976 《秋霞》
Chelsia My Love
1975 《晨星》
Where Have the Lovers Gone
1975 《水雲》
He Loved Once Too Many
1974 《早熟》
1974 《古鏡幽魂》
Ghost in the Mirror
1974 《夜半怪談》
The Wind of Ghost
1974 《義膽》
Hard Man With Guts
1974 《女記者》
News Hen YOK Teng Heung
1973 《心蘭的故事》
Story of Daisy
1973 《窗外》
Outside the Window YOK Teng Heung
1972 《鬼吹風》
The Wind of Ghost
1972 《母親三十歲》
Story of a Mother
1971 《庭院深深》
You Don't Tell Him
1971 《輕煙》
Love is Smoke
1969 《鐵娘子》
Iron Petticoat
1968 《破曉時分》
At Dawn
1966 《天之驕女》
A Perturbed Girl