According to the ancient lore surrounding him « Su Hua-qi » (which means, « Beggar So » in Cantonese ) was from Hunan, a Southern province which would also be later on the birth place to none other than Mao Tse Dong himself. Beggar So led a tumbling street performer life alongside his sister, and eventually his wandering led him to the neighbouring province of Guandong. An expert in Shaolin pole techniques he reportedly opened a martial school in Kwantung for some time, and was one of the celebrated southern martial heroes known as the
Ten Tigers of Kwantung. Su Hua-qi owed his fame to the eccentricity of his lifestyle, wandering from a place to another, living on the outer fringe of society without any real home or family ties. In a certain way he represented the very antithesis of respected patriarch masters such as Wong Fei-hong.
In time So became a legendary figure; the folklore and martial
literature transformed him into a wily mischievous tramp figure, an expert of the drunken boxing technique, and on occasions even into the king of beggars itself. Naturally he became a recurrent figure of Cantonese kung-fu cinema which developed at the end of the forties.
He was notably the hero of a trilogy produces in one row in 1953 : A Beggar named Su, The Swordsman and the Lady et Revenge of Beggar named Su. Beggar So was also a recurrent character in the fame Wong Fei-hong serial starring Kwan Tak Hing, played at some occasions by actor Liu Chi Wai. Repotedly actor-cum-fight arranger Simon Yuen Siu Tien
(Yuen Woo Ping's father) also played the Beggar on occasion.
When in the early seventies kung-fu cinema evolved away from its folkloric Cantonese roots, the character of the martial beggar disappear for a while. When Cantonese folklore did made a comeback later on though, So made a triumphant return in Drunken Master,
the newly establish martial director Yuen Woo Ping's second movie (after Snake In The Eagle's Shadow)
starring Simon Yuen and Jackie Chan in the respective roles of the wily tramp-like kung-fu master and his mischievous disciple. Acting with all the earthly verve he was capable of, Simon Yuen played Beggar So as a wily yet nimble boozer who loved as much to take a dip from his wine gourd as to torment his disciple, first by beating him up all the time and then by inflicting him a backbreaking martial-art training. Eventually though he did soften it up toward his disciple, taugh him the drunken boxing technique, before coaching him for edgy duel against a