Back then top Shaw tops Lily Ho and Ivy Ling Po looked fragile but in martial art films appeared heroic. How did they perform the highly difficult stunts of walking on the walls, the roofs and mid air flips? Actually, everything relied on "film back" Yuen Qiu's help.
With China Drama Academy's hellish training, Yuen Qiu was well prepared. In addition her father was a stunt coordinator who had a lot of work in the industry. Yuen Qiu thus got the opportunity to be the female lead's stunt double.
Comeback Performance, Pleased To Make Extra Income
Yuen Qiu says, "The school had a tradition. In the first year after school, all salary went to the Master. This tradition was called helping the teacher, like the teacher appreciation banquets now. Back then I was very lucky. Because an elder brother was a stunt coordinator at Shaw and my toughness, many people liked to ask me to help since I said OK to any stunt and did everything. At the time the salary was decent, HK$150 a day. I gave all of it to Master."
On the set, Yuen Qiu was capable of anything. Stunts that others thought was hard she was able to achieved easily and cleanly. Yuen Qiu says, "Back then I held the spear for Ling Po and the sword for Lily Ho. I just had to change my hair accessories, so back then I had a nickname of 'Film Back' (sounds like Best Actress)."
The nickname of "Film Back" since then refused to leave the industry. All of the disciples called her that, which Yuen Qiu still rather enjoys today. Because Yuen Qiu was obedient and useful, even after her apprenticeship ended, Master Yu Jim Yuen often asked her to return and perform at the Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park. The already stringent of finances Master Yu also gave Yuen Qiu a rather decent salary. This was not a money issue, but that Yuen Qiu finally received recognition from Master.
Yuen Qiu recalls, "After officially leaving the school, master every Saturday would ask me to help out at the Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park for a day. Every month the salary was 350. At the time Master was willing to pay me, which made me very happy."
Agile And Capable, Enjoyed Helping Others
Master Yu valued Yuen Qiu not only for her abilities but also her personality. Back then during school training, Master Yu every once in awhile would ask all the disciples to perform 200 tumbles. Tumbling expert Yuen Qiu immediately became everyone's lifeline. Yuen Qiu says, "Back then all of them asked me to cover for them, for example they would do 100 together then I would do the rest. That was very tiring, so I always had to beg each of them to do one or two more. Then I didn't have to have such a hard time."
Yuen Qiu after winning the title of "Film Back" as a stunt person suffered a lot; even the on screen success Yuen Biao had a "bitter history". In the next few days, Yuen Biao will tell the tale in person. (42)