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Statistics :
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Kwan Shan

Other names : 关山
Guan Shan
Guan1 Shan1
Gwaan Saan
Kwan San
Birthdate : 20/4/1933
Date of death : 1/10/2012
Workplace : Hong Kong, Taiwan
Activities : Director (1), Actor (65)


Perhaps best known these days as the father of leading actress Rosamund Kwan, Kwan Shan was in fact one of Shaw Brothers's top leading man during Hong Kong's sixties golden age of Mandarin cinema. While his fellow Shaw's star Zhao Lei was nicknamed “The Emperor” for his countless roles in costume dramas, Kwan Shan might as well have been called “the prince of the wen-yi” for his dreamy good looks and roles in lavish melodramas (called wen-yi in Chinese).

Born in 1929 or 1933 (sources differ) to a Manchu family originating from the northern province of Liaoning, Kwan Pak Wai (Guan Bo Wei) 關伯威, had a difficult early life. When his war refugee parents both died, he was forced to drop out of school in order to become his family's breadwinner, working a variety of menial jobs including as a miner and dock worker. Reportedly, it was upon viewing the ghost movie Beyond the Grave (1954) that Kwan decided to become an actor. Having successfully tested for the studio's Great Wall Movie Enterprise Limited acting course, he was spotted by director Yuen Yeung-on, who cast him in the titular role for his adaptation of Lun Xun's novellaTrue Story Of Ah Q. Shaved and dressed in rags, Kwan Shan was a far cry from the dashing male lead he would later appeared as, but he was already playing a tragic figure which would be his token role for the better part of his career. Kwan's performance in The Story Of Ah Q made quite an impression abroad as well, winning him a best actor award at the Locarno Film Festival in 1958. He was the first Hong Kong actor to achieve such recognition in European film circles, launching his career on a most auspicious note.

Following his success in Ah Q, Kwan Shan appeared in a dozen movies for the Great Wall and theSun Sun Film Enterprises Ltd.. In 1961, he joined Shaw Brothers, which was quickly rising to the position of top Mandarin film studio in Hong Kong. His first film for Shaw was the wen-yi melodrama Love Without End, opposite the studio's superstar actress Linda Lin Dai. Kwan went on to appear in over twenty Shaw Brothers productions during the next decade, occasionally in cameo and supporting roles, but most often as the male lead. Along with comedian Peter Chen Ho and costume film favouriteZhao Lei, Kwan was one of the studio's premiere leading men. Most of his roles were melodramas with early republican or contemporary settings, and he was often paired with great Shaw divas like Linda Lin Dai,Li Lihua, and Ivy Ling Po. Among his most famous movies were The Vermilion Door, Too Late for Love and Farewell, My Love.

Kwan Shan's success was not only due to his handsome face, but also a magnificent pair of sorrowful eyes and an undeniable talent for conveying great anguish. Unfortunately, his propensity toward tragic roles and tearful performances has lead to a somewhat overly simplistic dismissal of Kwan's characters as sentimental weaklings. The truth is that during the Fifties and Sixties, the effete, sensible, vulnerable leading man, chafing under misfortune and fate, was a romantic ideal embraced by the female audiences that constituted the bulk of the viewing public for the melodramas of the time.

By the late sixties though, the era for melodrama was passing, and more heroic, manly leading men became more prevalent in Hong Kong cinema, as exemplified by Jimmy Wang Yu and Ti Lung. With his contract with Shaw Brothers finished by 1970, Kwan Shan continued his career in Taiwan over the next 3 years. It was during this time that Kwan tried his hand at producing, directing and even playing a secret agent role forSecret Agent Chang Jiang No.1. His one directorial effort, The Brutal Boxer starring Chan Sing, remains to this day his one solid contribution to the kung-fu genre, aside from a few supporting roles in other films.

Back in Hong Kong by 1973, Kwan Shan's days as leading man were now behind him. He was able to settle comfortably into supporting roles for movies and television, mainly playing fatherly figures. By the mid-eighties he slowly faded out of movies, and turned his attention to various other business ventures instead. Modern viewers may recognize him for his bit parts in movies by John Woo (Better Tomorrow II), Jackie Chan Police Story 2) and Sammo Hung (Millionaire's Express). One of his last performances was in a double role for the sci-fi fighting-divas actioner Executioners.

Married to Great Wall actress Chang Ping-sie in 1961, Kwan Shan is father to Rosamund Kwan, who began her own movie career in the early eighties. Having migrated to the USA for a period, Kwan Shan returned to HK to be close to his loved ones. He lived out the rest of his life quietly, and passed away from lung cancer in October 2012.

Yves Gendron (November 2012)

Best known these days perhaps as the father of actress Rosamund Kwan, he was a top dramatic leading man in the late 50’s through the 1960s. Back in the 1950's, Kwan was the first actor from HK to win a Best Actor Award at a European Film Festival. After his leading man days were over by the mid 70’s, he continued making sporadic appearances as a supporting actor in some terrific films.

Tall and dashing, Kwan Shan was a leading man of the 50s and 60s who sent many women swooning over his good looks and dream lover image. Kwan had an auspicious start to his career with the leading role in The Story Of Ah Q in 1958. Starred in this film made him won the Best Actor Award at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland.

Kwan was best known for his role in the Doe Ching classic Love Without End opposite Asia’s biggest movie queen, Linda Lin Dai. He would go on to make other hits such as Vermilion Door, Too Late for Love and Farewell My Love.

Kwan faded out of the leading man scene in the mid-80s, becoming better known thereafter as the father of actress, Rosamund Kwan Chi-lam.

Source : Celestial Pictures

 [ 1990 - 1980 - 1970 - 1960 - 1950 ] 
 Alternate lists by alpha / genre / year
Title    ( HK -  All )  Year Activity
 Wonder Seven 1994 Actor
 Executioners 1993 Actor
 Red And Black 1991 Actor
 Police Story 2 1988 Actor
 Better Tomorrow II, A 1987 Actor
 Lady In Black 1987 Actor
 Dream Lovers 1986 Actor
 Millionaire's Express, The 1986 Actor
 Air Disaster 1983 Actor
 Behind The Storm 1982 Actor
 Godfathers Of Fury 1982 Actor
 Monkey Business 1982 Actor
 Coldest Winter In Peking, The 1981 Actor
 Pioneers, The 1980 Actor
 Battle of Guningtou, The 1979 Actor
 Making It 1978 Actor
 Naked Comes The Huntress 1978 Actor
 Broken Oath 1977 Actor
 Lady Killer, The 1977 Actor
 Shaolin Plot, The 1977 Actor
 Big Family 1976 Actor
 Himalayan, The 1976 Actor
 Kiss By The Wolves 1975 Actor
 Obsessed, The 1975 Actor
 Pretty Swindler 1975 Actor
 Shantung Man In Hong Kong 1975 Actor
 Sup Sap Bup Dup 1975 Actor
 Hiroshima 28 1974 Actor
 Tournament, The 1974 Actor
 Love Is A Four Letter Word 1973 Actor
 Adventure, The 1972 Actor
 Brutal Boxer, The 1972 Director, Actor
 Peeper, The Model And The Hypnotist, The 1972 Actor
 Pei Shih 1972 Actor
 Five Plus Five 1971 Actor
 And The Love Lingers 1970 Actor
 Cause To Kill, A 1970 Actor
 Infatuated Persons, The 1970 Actor
 Unforgotten Ones, The 1970 Actor
 Dark Semester 1969 Actor
 Farewell, My Love 1969 Actor
 Unfinished Melody 1969 Actor
 Susanna 1967 Actor
 Swan Song 1967 Actor
 Too Late For Love 1967 Actor
 Blue And The Black 2, The 1966 Actor
 Blue And The Black, The 1966 Actor
 Rose, Be My Love 1966 Actor
 Vermilion Door 1965 Actor
 Between Tears And Laughter 1964 Actor
 Coin, The 1964 Actor
 Shepherd Girl, The 1964 Actor
 Adulteress, The 1963 Actor
 Her Sister's Keeper 1963 Actor
 Love Eterne 1963 Actor
 Second Spring, The 1963 Actor
 Dream Of The Red Chamber, The 1962 Actor
 When Fortune Smiles 1962 Actor
 Love Without End 1961 Actor
 Night To Remember, A 1961 Actor
 Doctor And The Prima Donna, The 1960 Actor
 Fisherman's Love Story, A 1960 Actor
 Teenagers' Holiday 1959 Actor
 Nature Of Spring, The 1958 Actor
 True Story Of Ah Q, The 1958 Actor

 Article    Review    Poster/Gallery    DVD Captures    Trailer    DVD Captures/Trailer  

 Kwan Shan pictures :  (Hide)
Red And Black
Police Story 2
A Better Tomorrow II
Lady In Black
Broken Oath
The Himalayan
The Himalayan
The Himalayan
The Tournament
The Adventure
A Cause To Kill
A Cause To Kill
Farewell, My Love
Farewell, My Love
The Blue And The Black
The Blue And The Black 2
 Other Kwan Shan pictures :  (Hide)
Red And Black (1)
A Better Tomorrow II (1)
The Tournament (1)
The Adventure (3)
A Cause To Kill (2)
Farewell, My Love (3)
The Blue And The Black (5)
The Blue And The Black 2 (1)
Vermilion Door (5)
Between Tears And Laughter (2)
More pictures in the gallery

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