Monday, June 8, 2009


(Left) Yuen Wah, Yuen Biao paid their dues for their success

Far away in the south of the nation, a master who is in love with Beijing Opera decided to plant in this piece of land and for Beijing Opera to blossom in Hong Kong. This master was the China Drama Academy founder,his name was Yu Jim Yuen

Opera Kids, Film Legends

One after another kid came due to his fame, they had no idea what actors and divas were. Perhaps they were just having fun, they probably had no idea what the meaning of the "discipline to death without discussion" contract was. Time and again they created hard to come by adventures. Master Yu's attentive planting did not develop as Beijing Opera did not blossom in Hong Kong. His hard work in another area has thrived. Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung Kam Bo, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Corey Yuen Kwai were the seeds that Master Yu planted then. Today in the film industry each had his own success.

Flips, laps, hand stands, leg sweeps.....after learning these basics, they tried their luck in the Lai Chi Kok amusement park and the dance halls. This troupe although had over 60 to 70 people, performing onstage were only seven. This group of kids later was called Seven Little Fortunes.

In 59, China Drama Academy was officially founded. Little kids crammed into Tsim Sha Tsui's Mirador Mansion for training. They did everything in the room. Although they knew that training was hard, yet due to Master Yu's fame in the Shanghai opera scene and his beloved daughter Yu So Chau as the famous film industry heroine, many still enrolled.

Basic Traininig like Military

Yuen Biao said, "My old man already knew Master Yu when he lived in Shanghai. He always admired him so he sent me to the school." Yuen Lun and Yuen Kuk decided to enroll due to their admiration of Yu So Chau's film heroics. Even film company boss Hung Chai decided to hand over his mischievous grandson Hung Kam Bo for Master Yu to discipline. Although each discipline had his or her own story, writing their foreword was only Master Yu.

Well trained apprentices came from strict mentors. Master Yu's instruction method followed the opera laws and rules. Any mistake would result in a beating, the training was military like. Everyday disciples were out of bed at 6AM and trained until dark. The mentor's brother Yu Jim Sin was crazy and would surprised disciples with late night training. The difficult night and day training resulted in Seven Little Fortunes' undying spirit and top notch agility.

At the end of the 60s, Hong Kong opera gradually declined. Instead martial art films were on the rise. Since the opera scene had no place for its talent, Seven Little Fortunes joined the film industry. Years later, Jackie Chan is famous in Hollywood and internationally known; Hung Kam Bo is a master director, actor and producer; Yuen Kwai even broke into Hollywood as early as 85 and handled blockbusters like LETHAL WEAPON 4 and X-MEN; Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah also became top actors. The legendary story of these Seven Little Fortunes contributed to an important chapter of Hong Kong film history. (1)

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