Hong Kong stuntman and martial artist Yuen Wah (元華, Yung Kai-chi, 容继志) has a very impressive resume. His 55 years of work can be seen in over 160 films and 20 television series. In fact, he recently appeared in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” as Master Guang Bo!
Yuen Wah is highly coveted for his agility and acrobatic skills. However, he recently sparked controversy when netizens noted he turned down a HK$ 4 million role from Jackie Chan (成龍) but accepted a cheaper role in “Detective Chinatown 2 (唐人街探案2)”.
The martial artist’s impressive resume didn’t come by him sitting on his hands. Yuen Wah broke into the entertainment scene by being very dedicated to his craft. In fact, some said his martial arts skills were better than Jackie Chan’s. He first made it as Bruce Lee’s stunt double in “Fist of Fury” and “Enter the Dragon”. Yet, Yuen Wah wasn’t as well known as his peers like Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. He usually played villain characters and kept a fairly low profile. When asked what he thought of his more popular peers, Yuen Wah merely smiled. “I am very pleased to see them succeed because they work harder than me,” he said.
His career however took off in 2003 when Stephen Chow approached him to be The Landlord in “Kung Fu Hustle (功夫)”. “Bruce Lee is my idol,” Stephen Chow told him. “You used to be his stand-in. Your presence makes me feel close to (Bruce Lee).” The remark pushed Yuen Wah to perform his best and he later won the Best Supporting Actor award during the 2005 Hong Kong Film Awards.
In 2016, Jackie Chan offered Yuan Wah a role in the film “The Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang (神探蒲松龄之兰若仙踪)”. He was willing to pay Yuan Wah HK$ 4 million. However, the martial artist turned it down. Jackie thought he rejected the offer because the pay was too low and offered to increase it. Yet, Yuan Wah continued to refuse. However, many were surprised when he agreed to a guest appearance in “Detective Chinatown 2” for only HK$ 450,000.
People speculated Yuan Wah was looking down on Jackie Chan, or that he had beef with the famed actor. However, he denied the rumours and explained his decision. “The reason why I rejected Jackie Chan is because, first, I am too old to (do) difficult (stunts),” he stated. “I am worried that his work will be (hindered).”
Also, he was concerned about the high price for his guest role. “If I (had taken) this scene, people would think that I (charge) a lot when I inquire about (roles). Who would invite me to make a movie (then)?” Yuan Wah said. However, his appearance in “Detective Chinatown 2” paid the usual amount for a guest role. Yuan Wah felt that was good enough.
The stuntman and martial artist is certainly capable of considering the big picture! Most people would have jumped at the chance without a second thought. One must credit his humbleness and willingness to think of others over his own self.