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Thread: Angela Mao

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    ttt for our latest sweepstakes!

    Enter to win KungFuMagazine.com's contest for THE ANGELA MAO YING Collection (6-Film Set)! Contest ends 6:00 p.m. PST on 07/24/14. Good luck everyone!
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    Our winners are announced

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    NYT on Angela Mao


    Angela Mao soaring midair in “Deadly China Doll” (1973). The actress had a prowess in martial arts that distinguished her from other action stars, who merely choreographed their fight scenes. Credit Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, via Getty Images
    N.Y. / REGION

    Searching for Lady Kung Fu
    Angela Mao was as famous as Bruce Lee when she was a martial arts film star during the 1970s. Then she seemed to vanish. It turns out she’s been in Queens this whole time.

    By ALEX VADUKUL NOV. 4, 2016

    At the reception for an Asian film festival at Lincoln Center six years ago, excitement rippled through the crowd: Was it her? Lady Kung Fu? Was that Lady Whirlwind?

    Rumors long circulated that she had left movie stardom in Hong Kong for domestic life in New York City, but no one had heard much else about Angela Mao, possibly the most famous martial arts actress of her time, in more than 30 years.

    Surprised fans were now greeted by a small 60-year-old woman wearing a floral silk dress. Her son helped her manage the crowd. One fan, Ric Meyers, approached her for a photo. Like others, he was curious to know what she had been up to. He got his answer.


    Ms. Mao at Nan Bei Ho, her restaurant in Bayside, Queens. After a glamorous movie career in Hong Kong, she moved to New York City in 1993 to raise a family. Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times

    “She told me and my friends she was running restaurants in Queens,” Mr. Meyers said. “I told them, ‘We all have to go.’ But we all just got too busy and never went.”

    “She gave off the impression,” he added, “that she was a very private person.”

    On a warm afternoon this September, Ms. Mao, now 66, sat in one of those restaurants, keeping an eye on lunch service as she rubbed her baby granddaughter’s belly.

    The restaurant, Nan Bei Ho, sits on a quiet street in Bayside, a suburban Queens neighborhood beyond the reaches of the subway system and not far from the Long Island border. It is the oldest of three restaurants she runs with her husband and son, all of them in Queens. It serves Taiwanese food and is popular on weekends but is otherwise nondescript.

    Martial arts fans have sought the address of this restaurant for some time — they wanted to know what happened to Angela Mao, the Queen of Kung Fu, who fought and flew through dozens of films in the 1970s but vanished within a decade.


    Ms. Mao starred in dozens of martial arts films, including “Deadly China Doll” (1973). Credit Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, via Photofest

    A woman with a hearty laugh, Ms. Mao sometimes expressed confusion that people still had any interest in her.

    Over the course of three hours at the restaurant, she spoke in Mandarin, with her son and his wife translating into English. Ms. Mao, who usually declines interviews, reflected on her past without sentimentality.

    On moving to New York: “My son was born, and my husband came here for work. Supporting my family is what is most important to me.”

    On her second vocation: “Chinese restaurants are always a good way to make money in the U.S.”

    On leaving the spotlight: “My story is now in history. I want to be off the screen. I always keep low.”

    When encouraged to discuss her stardom with less modesty, she turned away from her granddaughter, seeming to consider the past for the first time in a long while. Then she chuckled.

    “How famous was I?” she said. “When I was a somebody, Jackie Chan was a nobody.”

    Ms. Mao’s career was brief but bright, taking place in Hong Kong and Taiwan and including roles in more than 30 films over a decade. Studios promoted her as a female Bruce Lee. When she appeared as Mr. Lee’s doomed sister in the 1973 martial arts classic “Enter the Dragon,” her place in the kung fu canon was secured. Quentin Tarantino has cited her as an influence, and a violent fight scene in his 2003 film “Kill Bill” involving a swinging ball and chain is strikingly similar to one of Ms. Mao’s duels in “Broken Oath.”

    She fought with ferocity and grace, mowing through armies of opponents with jaw-breaking high kicks, interrupting the carnage only to flip her pigtails to the side. A common climax in her films was her combating a villain twice her size.


    Ms. Mao appeared in the 1973 classic “Enter the Dragon.” Credit Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

    “She was the first female kung fu star — name above title,” said J. Hoberman, a longtime movie critic who now writes about video for The New York Times. He has fond memories of seeing Ms. Mao’s movies on triple bills at Times Square grindhouse theaters in the 1970s. “She basically had one act, which was going from an obedient character to a machine-like avenger,” he added. “A lot of people saw her films as feminist statements the same way as Pam Grier films.”

    Ms. Mao’s career coincided with the over-the-top, often impolitic exploitation era in film. The narrator for an American trailer of her 1972 film “Hapkido” declares: “Watch out for the pigtail that whips you up and wipes you out. … Lady Kung Fu: the unbreakable China Doll who gives you the licking of your life.”

    She was born Mao Ching Ying in 1950 and grew up in Taiwan, the third of eight children, to a family of entertainers for the Peking Opera House. Like her siblings, she started training for the opera at a young age, taking voice lessons when she was 5. She also studied martial arts, specifically hapkido, rising to the level of black belt — a prowess that later distinguished her from other action stars, who merely choreographed their fight scenes.

    In her 20s, she moved to Hong Kong, where a thriving film industry was based, but she was hardly romantic about it. “To be honest, the money was just better in movies,” she said. “I had to support my family. Most of the money I made I gave to them. This is the Chinese tradition.”

    Leading female roles were rare in Hong Kong at the time. Mr. Meyers, the fan who met with Ms. Mao at Lincoln Center, is the author of “Films of Fury,” a comprehensive history of the kung fu movie genre. Ms. Mao, he said, was the first woman to star in her own action films without having to defer to a male star.

    “Men ran things,” he explained. “Hong Kong had lots of machismo then. Women were considered ‘jade vases.’ They didn’t speak on screen. They were considered decoration.”

    When asked about this epithet, Ms. Mao snapped, “I was never anybody’s ‘jade vase.’” She shifted in her seat. Moments later, she dispatched her son to tend to a customer she noticed from the corner of her eye.


    Ms. Mao fending off foes in “Hapkido” (1972). Credit Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, via Getty Images

    Her break came when the Hong Kong producer Raymond Chow discovered her in an opera. Though Ms. Mao generally described her life as a case of being in the right place at the right time, she did display a rare moment of tenderness at this point. “I have to thank God and Raymond Chow,” she said.

    The dominant studio in Hong Kong at the time was Shaw Brothers, which produced dozens of formulaic action films per year. Mr. Chow was considered one of Asian cinema’s revolutionaries for founding the competing studio, Golden Harvest, which is credited with helping bring martial arts cinema to the West. Among his early coups were signing Bruce Lee — and discovering Angela Mao.

    “Everyone told him, ‘No one wants to see a woman on the screen,’” Mr. Meyers said. “He said, ‘That’s not true: I do.’ And Raymond Chow was right. He searched for a female actress with the same charisma and talent as Bruce Lee, and he found Angela Mao.”

    Her first prominent role was “Hapkido,” or “Lady Kung Fu,” in 1972. “That made me a star,” she said. “I traveled the world to promote it. People knew my face. Then the whole Asian world knew my face.” “Lady Kung Fu,” along with “Lady Whirlwind,” also in 1972, established her nicknames.


    Hapkido | Official Trailer HD Video by Shout! Factory
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    Continued from previous post

    In the early 1970s, she appeared in a string of films now considered martial arts classics: “Angry River,” “Thunderbolt,” “The Fate of Lee Khan,” “When Taekwondo Strikes” and “The Tournament.” A teenage Jackie Chan appeared as an uncredited stuntman in several of her early films.

    “Jackie and I started together,” she said. “We learned to take care of each other. He is my brother.” At the height of Ms. Mao’s fame, a man attacked her on a walk home, she recalled in an interview from the mid-1990s. She promptly dealt him several kicks. He ran off. The episode made headlines.

    Ms. Mao reflected: “A lot happened to me in a little bit of time.”

    Aside from some cameos in the early 1990s, Ms. Mao said, she effectively concluded her film career in 1983, when her son was born. By this time, her husband had moved to New York to start a construction company. Ms. Mao and their son joined him in 1993. She opened her first restaurant, Mama King, on Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing three years later. She opened Nan Bei Ho in 1997. New Mei Hua, in Flushing, and Guo Ba Inc, in Bayside, would follow.


    When Ms. Mao appeared in the 1973 classic “Enter the Dragon,” directed by Robert Clouse, left, alongside Bruce Lee, right, as his doomed sister, her place in the kung fu canon was secured. Credit Warner Bros., via Photofest

    “After I got married,” she said, chuckling, “I had to keep a lower profile so my husband could be the leader. But in film? I was the king.”

    Ms. Mao’s lack of regard for stardom may have been apparent from the start. “It is evident that success has not spoiled Angela Mao, or that she is too simple to know the extent of her popularity,” a 1974 profile in a martial arts magazine reads. “But, there is a small indication she is finding all the strings of kung fu movies a bit monotonous since she constantly repeats her plans after retirement. She still considers herself Mao Ching Ying, the Chinese opera actress and loves simple clothes.”

    The article ends: “Angela Mao gets up to leave. She runs her hands down the sides of her Levi’s, crushes a last Silva Thin on an ashtray and picks up her purse.… She did not say goodbye.”

    If Ms. Mao has tried to part ways with her past, she has never been able to fully shake it. The occasional customer recognizes her to this day, and sharp-eyed kung fu fans still stop her in the street.

    “It always happens,” Ms. Mao said. She recalled the time years ago when, while she was sitting in Central Park, a man shouted “That’s Angela Mao!” “He wanted to know what it was like working with Jackie Chan,” she said. “I was so surprised.”

    Mr. Meyers considered her legacy. “She didn’t have the ego of Bruce Lee,” he said. “He didn’t feel justified unless he was a star. She didn’t need that. She left Hong Kong on her own terms. She was a pioneer unconcerned with her own stardom.”

    May Joseph, a professor at Pratt Institute who wrote an essay about Ms. Mao as a feminist hero, encapsulated her influence this way: “She was a radical feminist cinematic presence before there was a language for that,” she wrote in an email. “She is the Lauren Bacall of kung fu.”


    Nan Bei Ho, one of the three restaurants Ms. Mao runs in Queens. Online message boards had speculated for years about her whereabouts. “So which restaurants does she own?” a fan wrote online. “Because I want to know which ones I should avoid when me and my thugs walk in and tip over furniture and demand protection money.” Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times

    Ms. Mao, however, bristled at grandiose notions about her legacy; she was not interested in hearing that she had become the subject of feminist literature.

    “This is not a gender situation,” she said with a baffled expression. “I just played myself. I am strong and I am powerful. That is how I became the most important female kung fu actress of my time.”

    One story told in kung fu circles is that she was paid only $100 for her role in “Enter the Dragon.” The subject obviously fatigued her. “I’m more focused on the quality of the movie than how much money I got paid,” she said. “I am very traditional. I don’t want to argue for special things. I don’t think much about male power and female power.”

    Grady Hendrix, a founder of the film festival at Lincoln Center who endured the challenge of tracking her down, suggested that Ms. Mao was part of a bigger story.

    “She’s one of those martial arts ‘What happened to?’” Mr. Hendrix said. “Lots of Hong Kong talent ends up in places like New York or Vancouver. One of the ‘Five Deadly Venoms’ had a kung fu academy in New York. For every Jackie Chan, there’s ones that aren’t.”

    “You get the sense it was all embarrassing to her,” he added.

    As evening approached at Nan Bei Ho, Ms. Mao seemed to have had enough of reminiscing. While her family and staff took a break to feast on barbecued meats in celebration of an autumn Chinese festival, she fed mashed potato on a soup spoon to her granddaughter. Later, she chopped snails in the kitchen to make a soup for her son, George King.

    Over the years, Mr. King, 33, has become his mother’s reluctant point man, handling occasional inquiries from kung fu pilgrims who track down his cellphone number. He shares her indifference to the past. “I just don’t think about it,” he said. “That generation thought about things differently. I think she was just blind to gender inequality. She was too busy working to support her family.”


    (茅瑛) Angela Mao Tribute - Queen Of Kung Fu Video by KINGOFKUNGFUAMP

    He said he was aware from a young age that his mother had some kind of glamorous past, but the level of fame was a mystery to him until a Japanese media company offered to fly them to Tokyo for a celebration of her films in 2007. “Thirty years after her career ended, we’re eating yakitori at this restaurant,” he said. “Two fans are just standing outside in the cold. All they wanted was her autograph.”

    “When people ask me ‘How does it feel to have Angela Mao as your mother?’” he added, “I say, ‘Well, you just said it: She’s my mother.’”

    But he seemed to find some poetry in her improbable path to Queens while visiting a mall on Long Island some years ago. A video rental shop there had a selection of kung fu movies dedicated to the greats: Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Jet Li. A section was also dedicated to Angela Mao.

    “A whole section is devoted to Mom,” he said. The shop owner noticed his interest.

    “The man who ran the place said, ‘Call me; I have many more.’” said Mr. King. “But I just smiled and walked out.”

    A version of this article appears in print on November 6, 2016, on page MB1 of the New York edition with the headline: Searching for Lady Kung Fu.
    Great article. What a story. I had no idea about this.
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    That is a great article, Gene. Thanks for posting it. It's been an open secret for years that Angela Mao was living in Queens and running Chinese restaurants there.

    I think a lot (or most?) of the old-school KF stars are NOT sentimental at all about their days in the spotlight. It was a lot of hard work for little pay for pretty much everyone except for those at the very top, like Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, etc.

    I met a few of the KF movie stars in Taiwan, but never by walking up and gushing at them about their movies. IMO, it's embarrassing when people do that. One I actually knew was an elder northern-style KF classmate of mine (Liu Hao-Yi/Hilda Liu), but most of the rest I met by chance, such as meeting Sze-Ma Lung when I worked part-time at a Taipei MA supply shop. And one (Hsia Kuang-Li) I met through a family who opened their home to me when I first arrived in Taiwan. There were others. They're just people like anyone else.

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    More on Angela Mao

    Pilgrimages to Queens Restaurant to Honor Lady Kung Fu
    By ALEX VADUKULJAN. 24, 2017


    Angela Mao in Bayside, Queens, last fall. Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times

    The tale of Angela Mao, from worldwide fame to quiet anonymity, is a kind of quintessential New York story. In the 1970s, she was Lady Kung Fu, possibly the most famous martial arts actress of her time, positioned by Hong Kong studios as a female Bruce Lee. She vanished a decade later only to recently resurface in Queens where she is running Taiwanese restaurants.

    A New York Times article in November found Ms. Mao, now 66, living quietly in the borough with her family, and with almost no hint of her glamorous past. And it was quite remarkable: Quentin Tarantino has cited her as an influence; she was in “Enter the Dragon”; a teenage Jackie Chan appeared in her early films; and she has been hailed as an unsung feminist icon.

    But for more than 30 years, only faint rumors circulated about her life in New York. In that interview, Ms. Mao was baffled to learn that people still had any interest in her at all and was also indifferent toward her legacy. But since then, the oldest of her three restaurants, Nan Bei Ho, has become something of a bucket-list destination for kung-fu fans.

    “They come every weekend,” Ms. Mao’s son, George King, said recently. “They arrive the minute we open and they sit there until my mom gets there. Some guy even flew in from L.A.”

    Autograph requests and fan mail from around the world have arrived at the restaurant, Mr. King said, and his mother is finally acknowledging her past by allowing some memorabilia from her acting days to hang in one of her restaurants, Guo Ba Inc in Bayside.

    “All these years later, she didn’t realize she still had a fan base,” he said. “She’s not used to the attention, but she’s thrilled.”


    Ms. Mao with Ji Han-Jae, a Korean martial artist who taught her as a young woman and appeared alongside her in the film “Hapkido.” Credit Vincent Lyn

    Late last year, one fan took it upon himself to reunite Ms. Mao with Ji Han-Jae, a revered Korean martial artist who taught her as a young woman and appeared alongside her in the film “Hapkido.” Mr. Ji, 80, has been living in New Jersey since the mid-1990s. The intrepid fan looking to bring the two together, Hector Martinez, 55, is an avid collector of Bruce Lee memorabilia.

    “He’s old and frail, but when I told him about the restaurant he just lit up,” recalled Mr. Martinez, who is the director of fire safety for a building in Midtown Manhattan. “He said: ‘I must go see Angela. It is very important.’”

    Mr. Martinez contacted Ms. Mao, he said, and she reacted similarly. “I decided they had to come together.”

    Mr. Han-Jae wore a suit and arrived at the restaurant with flowers. Ms. Mao offered him a Taiwanese feast. And according to Mr. Martinez, her famously cool indifference seemed to fall away.

    “They were hugging and kissing and reliving memories from the ’70s,” he said. “She was tearing up. She told me, ‘I would have never become Angela Mao if it were not for this man.’”

    But for Mr. Martinez, simply seeing Ms. Mao in person was satisfying.

    “When I first went to the restaurant, she was behind the counter serving some food,” he said. “You’d think she’d be sitting on a throne or something but there I was: face-to-face with Lady Kung Fu.”

    “She just smiled,” he said. “She knew that I knew who she was.”
    So awesome. RESPECT!
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    Great story. This was meant to happen. That guy is a super-fan!

    Ji Han-Jae was also the Hapkido man who fought Bruce Lee in Game of Death.

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    Even more on Angela

    She Was A Kung Fu Film Star. Now, She Runs Dining Places In Queens.
    by Mayukh Sen • August 17, 2017 • 1 Comment


    The poster for 'Hapkido' (1972). Photo by Metrograph

    Much hasn’t changed for Angela Mao since last fall, when she became famous all over again. Business at Nan Bei Ho, one of the three Taiwanese restaurants she manages in Queens, has proceeded as normal. And she’s only seen a slight increase in fans visiting the restaurants, slight being the operative word; it’s been nothing resembling an influx.

    Few of Mao’s admirers had known to make the trek to her restaurants before last November, when she was the subject of a profile in The New York Times. Metro reporter Alex Vadukul visited Nan Bei Ho to confirm rumors of what many fans had heard about Mao’s whereabouts since she made her last film in 1992. Inside, behind this unassuming storefront on a street in Bayside, Queens, he stumbled upon a great secret, finding a former star of kung fu cinema who’d essentially collapsed into anonymity. Few knew what had become of Lady Whirlwind, as Mao was once nicknamed, or where she’d gone; they just knew what she left behind.

    Her new habitat was the food service industry. Mao opened her first restaurant, Flushing's now-defunct Mama King, in 1996, three years after she had arrived in America from Hong Kong with her son. She and her family have since evolved her restaurants into a network that expands and contracts like an accordion, with different ones opening and closing every few years. Today, three, all in Queens, still stand: Nan Bei Ho, the recently-opened Shiba Hotpot, and New Mei Hua. The Times article was a classically involving piece of newspaper reportage that offered an intoxicating narrative, staring agape at Mao's past, treating her present-day life as a mystifying addendum to her career in front of the camera.

    “Yes,” Mao responded laconically, working through her son who translated her Mandarin into English, when I asked her if she felt the Times profile portrayed her accurately. “I'm living the simple life now.”



    Born in Taiwan in 1950, Mao was raised by parents who were opera entertainers. She was trained rigorously in both voice and martial arts, developing astonishing facility in both. Her proficiency eased her migration into the world of film, which began as a way for her to rid her family of its financial woes. When Mao was still in her 20s, she left Taiwan for Hong Kong.

    After toiling away in opera for a few years, she caught the eye of producer Raymond Chow, on the hunt for a woman whose gravitas could rival that of Bruce Lee. With his help, Mao became quite famous quite quickly.

    Mao didn’t just belong to this cinematic movement; she actively shaped it, establishing a blueprint for female stardom that previously didn’t exist. In 1972’s Hapkido (also titled Lady Kung Fu, the source of another one of her sobriquets), she plays one of three Chinese students in 1930s Korea who are pit against occupying Japanese adversaries. Mao is balletic, leveling and thrashing her opponents without mercy, rendering strenuous gestures with elegance.
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    Continued from previous post



    Beginning this Friday, the Old School Kung Fu Fest at the Metrograph theater in Manhattan's Lower East Side will honor Mao's brief, but bountiful, film career. Organized under the thematic “Wonder Women of the Martial Arts,” the series opens with Hapkido, an established and revered classic, but contains a few deep cuts, too, like 1973's The Fate of Lee Khan, where Mao plays a crucial role. There are seven films total in the series, and Mao is in two. Others are headlined by Mao's female contemporaries, Cheng Pei Pei and Kara Hui Ying-Hung. This was an era of cinema, as the program’s liner notes explain, that featured “some of the fiercest female warriors to ever grace kung fu cinema, a wellspring of tough gals.”

    Mao, who turns 67 next month, will introduce Friday night’s screening of Hapkido. The series is capitalizing on the renewed interest generated by the Times article nearly a year ago, and Metrograph expects the crowd to be populated with fans of her work, especially ones who’ve never seen this legend in the flesh.

    Aliza Ma, Metrograph’s Director of Programming, was one of these devotees. She’d grown up watching Mao on film, enraptured by her onscreen displays of violent grace.

    “I feel like kung fu is one of those rare genres of cinema where women were able to be upfront and center as these really aggressive presences,” Ma told me. “Ironically, for such a masculine genre, the kung fu film has always starred women from the beginning. That’s really interesting in an age when we’re celebrating female empowerment. I just thought it’d be great to see these films again.”

    Mao wasn’t an avid cook growing up. In fact, she didn't really even get into cooking until circumstance demanded she do so. Mao fell into the restaurant industry out of financial necessity, just as she did with movies. She got married in 1974; in 1983, her husband moved to New York to begin a construction company. Mao and her son followed him to America, and she took up work in food service because it seemed like a financially stable vocation. The food she serves in her restaurants is mostly a reflection of what her husband and children liked during their first years in America.

    “The restaurants were started primarily to support the family financially. Now that they've been around for awhile, it's really just to maintain that stability,” she told me. “I don't think my love of food really had much to do with it. Maybe my husband and kids and their love for food drove it more.”

    When Mao opened Nan Bei Ho in 1997, she figured it was one of the first restaurants in the city (outside of Chinatown in Manhattan) that catered to consumer desire for Chinese home-style cooking. Her routine has remained static for the last several years: She works mostly on weekends, waking up at 7:30am to get to work at 9am, manning customer service and monitoring food quality. When I asked if running restaurants for the past two decades has changed her approach to cooking at all, she told me, rather plainly, well, no. She still cooks the same dishes the same ways.


    Angela Mao in 'Hapkido' (1972). Photo by Metrograph

    Ma, a longtime admirer of Mao, has been planning this series for the better part of a year. During the conceptual stages of programming, Ma stumbled upon the Times profile of Mao. She decided then and there that she’d have Mao as the anchor for the rest of the program. Ma had been utterly flummoxed by the fact that this woman, a “pioneer figure in international filmmaking,” just decided to quit one day and start a restaurant in Queens. She wanted to bring that history forward through the program.

    “She really moved to New York to start a new life and raise her sons,” Ma said of Mao, awestruck not only by Mao’s jagged trajectory but also by what it seemed to be emblematic of. “This was such a part of the immigrant experience, too. So many people started working in restaurants and opening their own restaurants to survive.”

    She fought tooth and nail to get Mao’s blessing to participate, but found Mao and her family somewhat evasive. So Ma and her team took matters into their own hands. They piled into a car bound for Nan Bei Ho. Not many patrons were in the restaurant; the party would later learn that they had just missed the Bruce Lee Fan Club, who came to eat lunch a bit earlier that day. Mao greeted the party at the door, which alarmed Ma. The woman Ma encountered that day was nothing like the spitfire she’d seen on screen. Mao, in her new avatar, was diffident and soft-spoken, at odds with the outsize persona she projected on celluloid.

    Mao seated the party at their table. Ma remembers what she ate that day: a plate of stinky tofu; xiao long bao; and Taiwanese stewed beef noodles with cilantro. The food that day was, by Ma’s estimation, "perfect. A very good afternoon meal.” Mao’s grandchildren had been milling about the restaurant while she sat at a table nearby, sifting through chives, inspecting her produce, folding and creasing dumplings by hand.
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    Continued from previous post



    At the end of the meal, Ma approached Mao and revealed the real purpose of her visit, explaining that she and her team wanted to program a film series to recognize Mao's contributions to cinema. Mao suddenly became bashful, seized by disbelief that this cabal of strangers had recognized her. She told Ma that her son brought the topic up and that she was sorry she didn’t get back to the team sooner.

    As they spoke more, though, Mao became suddenly loquacious: Once she agreed to the appearance and passed the logistical burdens off to her son, Mao asked what films they were going to show. When Ma's team told her they’d been planning on screening Hapkido, she nodded with approval and then remarked that she’d wear her favorite cheongsam to the screening. “She already started planning her outfit so early on,” Ma remembered, noting Mao’s enthusiasm. “She was showing us her moves by the end of the conversation.” When Ma asked her if she still did kung fu, she responded that “people like her” do kung fu for life, that she performs her moves while she’s doing the dishes.

    Since confirming these logistics, Ma and her team have gone to great lengths to organize the opening night. Because this was effectively a tribute screening to Mao, Ma wanted to introduce a new element to the programming that wasn’t so fixated on Mao’s past: She wanted to highlight Mao’s current life in food and what she’s been doing since she disappeared from film.

    “A lot of people know Hapkido and sought out the screening for that reason, because we’re showing it on film,” Ma said. “But I don’t think a lot of them know about her restaurants.”


    Angela Mao in 'Hapkido' (1972). Photo by Metrograph

    The opening night of the series will have food specials curated specifically for the film. Metrograph constructed the menu after direct consultation with Mao and her son, who made the initial suggestions on what to serve. What’s resulted largely preserves the initial vision they had: “Taiwanese-style mala wings,” pork belly bao, and pork dumplings—all popular dishes cribbed from the menus of Mao's restaurants.

    “If you told me when I first started programming that we would have Angela Mao cater an opening night program,” Ma told me, “I would’ve died.”

    Ma realized that one unintended outcome of the Times article was that the world seemed more concerned with Mao’s past as a film star, and the long shadow she cast, and less interested in her career in the food industry. As an inevitable consequence of its structure, a series devoted to Mao’s film work would risk encouraging the mythology of Mao as a woman who walked away from the world she once commanded.

    Ma didn't want to feed this fascination further; she wanted to redress it. She realized you can't consider Angela Mao without considering her food and the people it's nourished. These two seemingly divergent paths in Mao’s life—film and food—demand to be seen in concert. This is the curatorial ethos behind the series, and the unspoken hope that drives it: That the night will draw a horde of Angela Mao fans. They'll remember what they saw that night, and they'll remember what they ate there, too.

    Metrograph and Subway Cinema's Old School Kung Fu Fest runs from August 18 - 20. Learn more about the series here.

    I'm copying the Angela Mao posts off Best Female led Kung Fu Movie thread now. She truly deserves her own indie thread.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  11. #11
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    Angela

    Lifestyle / Entertainment
    Angela Mao in Lady Kung Fu outsold Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon at US cinemas, so who is this legendary martial arts actress?
    The characters Mao played fought mercilessly and she had an intense screen presence, but it was her Peking Opera school training that was key to her success
    The first actress signed to the Golden Harvest studio, her films with Sammo Hung and Carter Wong made her a star, one as well known in the US as Bruce Lee
    Richard James Havis
    Published: 7:00am, 26 Jul, 2020


    Angela Mao in a still from Enter the Dragon (1973), in which she plays Su Lin, the sister of Lee’s character. A trained martial artist, she had an intense screen presence.

    Back in 1973, martial arts performer Angela Mao Ying was as famous as Bruce Lee in the United States. Her film Hapkido (known as Lady Kung Fu there) even knocked Lee’s Enter the Dragon, in which she played Lee’s sister, off the top of the US box-office charts for a week.
    Mao owed her success partially to the fact that, unlike many actresses in martial arts films, she was a trained martial artist before she started making films. No concessions were made to Mao’s femininity in her movies – she fights mercilessly and sustains injuries.
    She managed her career well and featured in more than 40 films between 1968 and 1992. Her major films include Hapkido, Lady Whirlwind (bizarrely retitled Deep Thrust in the US) and When Taekwondo Strikes. Mao also had a role in King Hu’s wuxia film The Fate of Lee Khan.
    During this time, she built up strong working relationships with Hong Kong martial arts actor Sammo Hung Kam-bo, who often choreographed her films and appeared in supporting roles; with Carter Wong, with whom she formed an on-screen partnership; and with director Huang Feng, with whom she later formed a production company.



    “Angela cut a very striking presence on the screen,” says David Wilentz, who arranged a rare question-and-answer session with Mao for the Old School Kung Fu Fest in New York in 2017. “I think that what made her so popular the world over was the intensity of her presence.”
    “She has a simultaneous expression of anger and restraint in all of her movies, which says that she is a force to be reckoned with if you go too far,” says Wilentz. “One of her sons described it to me as ‘that look’, and if they saw it, when they were growing up, they knew they were in trouble.”
    Taiwan-born Mao learned martial arts in a Peking Opera school, the Fu Sheng Opera School, where she studied from the age of six to fourteen. She specialised in playing female fighting roles (wudan), and was known for her ability to defend herself against 12 spears thrown rapidly in succession by using her foot.
    Mao made one film in Taiwan, and then signed a contract with Golden Harvest in Hong Kong in 1970. Golden Harvest bosses Raymond Chow and Leonard Ho had recently formed the company after leaving Shaw Brothers, and Mao was their first signing.
    According to Golden Harvest producer Andre Morgan, established stars would not work with Golden Harvest, as they would be blacklisted by their powerful competitor Shaw Bros, so the company had to develop new talent like Mao. Angry River, a sword-fighting fantasy starring Mao, was Golden Harvest’s first-ever film, and subsequent unarmed-combat movies Lady Whirlwind and Hapkido made Mao a star.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  12. #12
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    continued from previous post


    Carter Wong (left), Angela Mao and Sammo Hung in a still from Hapkido.

    Choreographed by Sammo Hung, who also featured in a supporting role as a fellow student, Hapkido tells of a group of friends – including Carter Wong in his first pairing with Mao – who found a hapkido school in Japanese-occupied China. Rivalry with a Japanese martial arts school leads to combat and revenge.
    Golden Harvest was always looking for something unique to differentiate itself from Shaw Bros when it started out, and the Korean martial art form hapkido fitted the bill. The company sent Mao to Korea to train under a Korean martial arts master for 18 months, and she became a third dan black belt before returning to Hong Kong to make Hapkido.
    “Sammo and Angela were already martial arts experts because of the training in their respective Peking Opera schools. This gave them more skills, and the film gained an extra level of authenticity. This meant that, for the time, the film showcased more authentic looking fight scenes,” notes Wilentz. “The martial arts they perform in Hapkido still feel fresh and exciting.”
    Mao’s performance in Hapkido led to her being cast as Lee’s sister Su Lin in Enter the Dragon, Mao said. “Bruce Lee saw me shooting Hapkido, and that led to the part,” she told the Old School Kung Fu Fest.


    Angela Mao in a still from When Taekwondo Strikes (1973).

    “Originally there was no female role. I was shooting Hapkido at that time, and Bruce wanted to add a female role – it was originally just to be one day of shooting. But after he saw me shooting Hapkido, he added one more day,” Mao said.
    Mao’s Lady Whirlwind is not as slick as Hapkido, but the combat is tougher, and Mao’s role is unusually vengeful for a female character at that time. The plot is a mix of two parallel revenge stories. Mao plays Tien, who wishes to avenge her sister, who killed herself when her lover Ling (Chang Yu) left her. But Ling, who is not villainous, wants to avenge himself on a Japanese gang who attacked him before he fights Tien.



    Mao’s fight scenes, again choreographed by Hung, are diverse, and her character is unforgiving. Tien has a feud with a gangster played by Hung, who she kills, and she engages in a variety of one-on-one and one-against-many combat scenes.
    Mao now owns the Nan Bei Ho restaurant in New York, which contains a lot of her martial arts memorabilia. She says her success was due to the time she spent at the Peking Opera school as a child. “Learning Peking Opera was very hard. That is the hardest thing you can do. I had already overcome many difficulties,” she said.
    “You could describe her as an ‘it-girl’ of martial arts,” Wilentz adds, “but just be careful she doesn’t catch you saying that!”


    Angela Mao (right) in a still from Hapkido (1972).
    Good to see her get recognition.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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