Kan Chia Fong aka Yuen Qiu
(Kan Chia Fung, Yuan Qiu, Phoenix Kim)
We were recently re-introduced to Yuen Qiu in Stephen Chow's smash Kung Fu Hustle
as the tempersome chain-smoking landlady in curlers. Her fairly brief film career actually began
over 30 years ago in Hong Kong as a kung fu movie actress.
Yuen Qiu (whose real name is is Kan Chia Fong) considers herself "mixed". Her father is a
Shandong Chinese and her mother is Cantonese. At age 7, she began attending the Peking
Opera school run by Master Yu Jim Yuen, who gave her the name "Yuen Qiu". The training
and living conditions were strict and grueling. Her parents only supplied a few dollars a month
for food. When she went to the dentist to have a tooth pulled, she recalls being given no
anesthesia, and was told by the dentist have some ice cream instead.
Her classmates in the Peking Opera school were the "Seven Little Fortunes" themselves-
Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Jackie Chan and her Kung Fu Hustle co-star, Yuen Wah.
In other words, she can spin, kick and flip with the best of them.
Coincidentally, Yuen Qiu debuted in two movies also featuring a young Jackie Chan. She
played the title character in Police Woman (1973), and took a non-action role as a country girl
in the dreary Not Scared To Die (1973). When Universal Studios came to Hong Kong to cast
people for the James Bond pic The Man With a Golden Gun, she was flown to Thailand to
film a brief appearance as a schoolgirl. Though the film industry was booming, antagonist roles
for females were scarce, and salaries for women actresses were unjustly lower than men's.
Revenge. She later played Leung Ka Yan's wife in New Tales of the Flying Fox, cameoed
in the beginning of Yuen Wo Ping's Dreadnaught, played Lau Ka Yung's martial arts
mamma in Dragon's Claws, and kicked Hsiao Ho's butt with her steel toed shoes during the
opening credits of Lau Kar Leung's Disciples of the 36th Chamber.
Her most frequent co-star would be Korean actor Dragon Lee, with whom she worked on
three films billed with the moniker Phoenix Kim. In the mid 1980's, frustrated with
gender inequities in the industry, she married and withdrew from the film circle.
In 2004, Yuen Qiu was accompanying a female friend to an audition for Kung Fu Hustle.
Bored waiting, she lit a cigarette and began to read the newspaper. Director Stephen Chow
spotted the aloof retired actress, and asked her to show him a few more smoking poses.
Chow had been searching for months for the right person to fill the role of the fat, surly landlady,
and offered the opportunity to Yuen Qiu. However, she had to sacrifice by gaining a significant
amount of weight for the role. At first, she did not know if she could live up to Chow's high
expectations, but says that Chow, who is known for being a tough taskmaster, did not
scold her at all on the set. Her efforts were rewarded with a Hong Kong Film Award
nomination for Best Actress.
Kung Fu Hustle marks Yuen Qiu's official return to show business after nearly 20 years.
Kan Chia Fong (Yuen Qiu) Filmography
|1975||The Black Dragon's Revenge|
|1985||Crazy Shaolin Disciples|
|1985||Disciples of the 36th Chamber|
|198?||Dragon Lee vs. the Five Brothers|
|198?||The Dragon, the Young Master|
|1982||The Dragon's Snake Fist|
|1978||The Fearless Duo|
|2004||Kung Fu Hustle|
|2005||Kung Fu Mahjong|
|1984||New Tales of the Flying Fox|
|1973||Not Scared To Die|
|1973||Police Woman (aka The Heroine)|
Kan Chia Fong -American Films
The Man With the Golden Gun
Hong Kong Film Awards
Best Actress Nomination- Yuen Qiu
2004 Kung Fu Hustle
Copyright © Hong Kong Movie World
Yuen Qiu biography © All rights reserved