Even though Bolo Yeung’s career is intimately related to baddies characters, whose intelligence often equals one of an oyster, he is an actor that managed to create charismatic roles, being often able to wake up the spectator from its deep lethargy.
Born in Guangzhou suburbia, Bolo Yeung studies martial arts since his youngest age from local great masters. But, contrarily to many others, he is also interested in developing his physical strength through intensive muscular training. During the 60s, he is forced to run away from communism, and leaves to take refuge in Hong Kong, where he first becomes a body-building teacher. In 1970, he is even consecrated as Mister Hong Kong.
His strong corpulence, his brute face and his obvious martial skills quickly attracted the attention of the big studios, particularly the Shaw Brothers that offer him in 1969 to act in Chang Cheh’s The Heroic Ones as the brutal and robust general Meng Chieh Hui. Once his career is really started, Bolo Yeung does some more movies with Chang Cheh (Deadly Duo, Angry Guest) before leaving the Shaw studios in 1971. Concurrently to his cinematographic adventures, he acts in a few TV ads, including one for the Winston cigarettes brand. It is this occasion that will lead him to meet with Bruce Lee. Struck by the monstrous corpulence of Bolo, he offers him to hold a fighter role in his new film, Enter The Dragon. Unfortunately, Bolo Yeung is once more reduced to a brainless character, whose only goal seems to be the most brutal possible destruction of his opponent. Worse, the movie does not propose any direct confrontation between Bruce Lee and Bolo Yeung. Even if this would have been planned for Game Of Death, the death of the little dragon puts a definite end to the hopes of Bolo Yeung.
During the 70s and 80s, Bolo Yeung is going to play in about a hundred of movies, most of the time in the role of a monstrous stranger, whose presence mainly serves to put the main character (usually a Bruce Lee clone) in a heroic position. He can be seen being put into pieces, but not without resistance, in such forgotten movies as Hong Kong Superman, The Fighting Dragon, Bruce's Deadly Fingers, Big Boss 2, The Clones Of Bruce Lee, Bruce Li In New Guinea (!), Bruce The Super Hero and many others.
Even though he has played in countless movies, often of a doubtful quality, we have to wait until the end of the 80s to see Bolo Yeung making a name amongst action movies fans. It is in 1988 that he gets the Chong Li role, in Bloodsport, along with a beginner, Jean-Claude Van Damme. For many, the true attraction of the movie is Bolo Yeung. And we will see him crossing path with the Belgian again in Double Impact, in 1991. At last, in 1993, Bolo Yeung acts in Shootfighter: Fight To Death where he gets one of his rare good guy roles. He returns in 1996 in a sequel : Shootfighter 2 : Kill Or Be Killed
Stéphane Jaunin (October 2003)