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Kwan Hoi San

 
 
 
 
Other names : 关海山
關海山
Guan Hai Shan
Gwaan Hoi Saan
Kuan Hai Shan
Kuan Hoi San
Kwan Hoi Shang
Kwan Ling
 
Birthdate : 23/10/1925
Date of death : 11/9/2006
Nationality : Hong Kong
Workplace : Hong Kong
Activities : Singer (1), Actor (130), Brief appearance (4), Cameo (1)

Biography

Nicknamed Ha Suk/Uncle Shrimp (蝦叔), probably due to his small size, Kwan Hoi San’s (關海山) name was in fact Kwan Ling (關寧). Following the example of his father Kwan Yiu Fai (關耀輝), he studied Cantonese opera in his youth. At 11, he started playing in public. At the time, Cantonese opera was mainly street theatre: actors were acting on a stage built in front of a temple or a market. Later, Kwan Hoi San will join the greatest troupes of that time, such as the Saan Sing/New voice (新聲劇團) of the legendary Yam Kim and Pak Suet Sin.

From the stage, Kwan Hoi San passes truly to the big screen in the 1950s - in the 1940s, he was already singing for the first Hong-Kongese sound films soundtracks. Cantonese cinema was then in a real booming period. All the stars from the Cantonese opera were moving to the silver screen. The films were often adaptations from the Cantonese opera repertoire. Another genre was also very appreciated by the public: Movies inspired by Chinese martial arts legends and novels. Kwan Hoi San, a chameleon-like actor, was comfortable with all kinds of genres, but he was really excelling in Wu Xia Pian and filmed operas. His first movie is Huet Chai Huet Seung (血债血偿). His fame as a cinema actor quickly goes beyond the one he had built as a theatre actor. His name finds itself quickly on top of the posters, often close to the names of other Cantonese stars of the time, such as Walter Tso Tat Wah, Cheung Ying (1), Lau Hak Suen or also Sek Kin. The public often remembers him in movies such as Buddha’s Palm (Part 1), A Drop Of Chivalrous Blood by Ling Yun (1), a serial of movies on the Monkey-King by Wong Hok Sing or also The Azure Blood and The Golden Pin by Chan Lit Ban. When a Cantonese movie was successful, a series of sequels was then quickly shot. Kwan Hoi San, just as many other stars from that period, was playing the same part from one movie to another, and shooting several movies at the same time. This beautiful era wherein he was the young lead last until the end of the 1960s, when the arrival of the Mandarin language productions from the Shaw Brothers will impose juvenile faces to the public, such as Jimmy Wang Yu, David Chiang Da Wei or Yueh Hua. Kwan Hoi San and his friends had then to accept this change. Some retured to theatre, others continued to do movies in Cantonese while participating in productions shot then in Mandarin in big studios such as Shaw Brothers or Cathay Asia Films. Other also will integrate television, then still on its early stage, where they will meet again some filmmakers that have also turned toward TV.

Kwan Hoi San cinema career went downhill until the mid-1970s. In 1976, he joined T.V.B., which he didn't leave up until the early 2000s. During his television period, he quickly becomes a great and must-have supporting part in the soaps. Not unlike in cinema, Kwan Hoi San was able to perform all kinds of characters in the small screen without troubling his audience. He was, from one series to another, a good family man, a Kung-fu master, a machiavellian godfather,a minister of the emperor, a Taoist magician, a firm manager, a historical character or also a traitor to the country. The part he was the most often attributed was the one of the patriarch of a rich family in decay, in the long emblematic series of the channel. Other stars from T.V.B. have confronted him more than once in the long series of the channel: Chow Yun Fat, Carol Cheng Yu Ling and Simon Yam Tat Wah in Brothers/Tsan Ching (亲情), Adam Cheng Siu Chow in Clan of Intrigues/Chor Lau Heung (楚留香), Andy Lau Tak Wah and Tony Leung Chiu Wai in The Duke of Mount Deer/Luk Ding Kei (鹿鼎记), Felix Wong Yat Wah and Ray Lui Leung Wai in Kung Fu Master of Fat Shan/Fat San Chan Sin Sang (佛山赞先生), Stephen Chow Sing Chi in The Justice of Life/Ta Loi Chi Kong Woo (他來自江湖) or also Lau Ching Wan in The Battle Among The Clans/Dai Heung Kong (大香港). In 1982, in The Demi-Gods and Demi-Devils/Tin Lung Pa Po (天龙八部), he crossed the path of Leung Kar Yan, but also Kwan Chung (关聪), one of his sons.

In the meantime, Kwan Hoi San kept on working in the cinema industry with more or less outstanding parts. In the 1980s, just like a Bill Tung Biu, Kwan Hoi San found a second fame within cinema thanks to his successful television career. Young filmmakers, including thos who knew him from TV sets, rediscovered him, and offered him interesting supporting parts. When he was well directed, the result was, for an example, Brothers From Walled City, or Hong Kong, Hong Kong. In the latter, he acts an old violent single man who ends up marrying Cherie Chung Chor Hung, an illegal immigrant coming from China and in love with Alex Man Chi Leung. His performance “without a safety net” had at the time triggered debates and admiration: The scenes where he bullies the poor Cherie Chung Chor Hung are kept in all memories…

An Immense actor, Kwan Hoi San had the reputation to be serious at work, whatever the part he was doing. As he was appreciating playing and disguising, he never hesitated to appear weirdly dressed, in Wu Xia Pian as well as in comedies. Despite his fame, he was not afraid to ridiculize himself on screen or to play amoral guys, and this at a very late age. In the 1990s, he did one more step toward auto-mockery (probably also because of financial needs): He was regularly seen in category 3 movies! Which by the way was not keeping him from playing exemplary patriarchs. Respected in the profession, Kwan Hai San was also enjoying teaching young comedians. He was giving them advices on the sets. Great stars of today, who worked with him at their beginnings, all consider him as their master. Kwan Hoi San had also the honour of presiding over the association of Cantonese opera companies of Hong Kong.

In 1991, he won the Hong Kong Film Award and the Taiwanese Golden Horse in the best male supporting role category for his part in Lee Rock by Lawrence Ah Mon. Western viewers can remember his part in Project A and Project A II by Jackie Chan, where he was playing the superior of the star, hunched up in his third rate uniform. Let’s remind that at this time, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung Kam Bo were enjoying paying tribute to past Cantonese cinema stars by reuniting them in their great productions. John Woo’s fans don’t forget Kwan Hoi San in Hard Boiled where he was that old godfather for who things where far too much complicated because of the young generation of gangsters, led by Anthony Wong Chau Sang, and he was “betrayed” by Tony Leung Chiu Wai.

Kwan Hoi San was enjoying life. He was drinking and smoking much; some habits he had since his rebel youth. He was a great collector of paintings and Chinese calligraphies, but also of pipes. Great womanizer in his youth, he was the father of 3 sons and 3 daughters, from 4 successive weddings. His first wife (who left him without leaving any child) was also an actress who came from Guangdong like him. He had met his second spouse during a tour in the south of Vietnam; He had 4 children with her, including the comedian Kwan Chung. His third wife was a Chinese woman from Malaysia. Together they had a Daughter. In 1969, according to his sayings, Kwon Hoi San fell in love at the first sight with the young Tsang Dai Yung (曾娣容). They never left each other until his death. Like in some series from the TVB, Kwan Hoi San was the patriarch of a dislocated clan. Except his last son, he was not really seeing his other children – some say it was because of his last spouse. In 2001, he suffered from an apoplexy attack. Paralysed and mute, he had to leave the profession. Apart from his last son, his children could not really see him during his recovery. Some conflicts for the legacy appeared at that time and will probably continue after his death, between his last wife and his children from other marriages. Let’s note that his last son Kwan Chung, exiled in Taiwan, has done some jail time there because of misappropriation of funds – according to certain sources he became a Buddhist monk since then.

In 2005, TVB (which dropped him after his accident) paid a tribute to Kwan Hoi San during a special show. A very popular actor, Kwan Hoi San had participated to more than 300 films and TV soaps. With his death, it is a whole part of the memory of theatre, cinema and television from Hong Kong that disappears forever.

VTL (September 2006)
 
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Filmography
 [ 2000 - 1990 - 1980 - 1970 - 1960 - 1940 ] 
 Alternate lists by alpha / genre / year
 
Title    ( HK -  All )  Year Activity
 
 Goodbye Mr Cool 2001 Actor
 Queen Of Kowloon 2000 Actor
 Textiles At Heart 2000 Actor
 What Is A Good Teacher 2000 Actor
 Wonton Love 1999 Actor
 Exodus From Afar 1998 Actor
 Portland Street Blues 1998 Actor
 Young And Dangerous 5 1998 Actor
 Recipe For The Heart, A 1997 Actor
 O.C.T.B. Case : The Floating Body 1995 Actor
 Touch Of Evil, A 1995 Actor
 Great Conqueror's Concubine 1 & 2 1994 Actor
 Marked For Murder 1994 Actor
 Shaolin Avengers 1994 Actor
 Heroes Among Heroes 1993 Actor
 Man Of The Times 1993 Actor
 Moment Of Romance II, A 1993 Actor
 Roof With A View, A 1993 Actor
 Sting 2, The 1993 Actor
 Street Car Named Desire, The 1993 Actor
 Tale Of A Heroine, The 1993 Actor
 Whore And Policewoman 1993 Actor
 All's Well Ends Well 1992 Actor
 Angel Delight 1992 Brief appearance
 Casino Tycoon 1992 Actor
 Devil Of Rape 1992 Actor
 Eight Diagram Cudgel 1992 Actor
 Hard Boiled 1992 Actor
 Legend Of Wong Tai Sin 1992 Actor
 Martial Arts Master Wong Fei Hung 1992 Actor
 Son Of Dragon 1992 Actor
 Banquet, The 1991 Brief appearance
 Casino Raiders 2 1991 Actor
 Lee Rock 1991 Actor
 Mission Of Condor 1991 Actor
 Red Lips 1991 Actor
 Transmigration Romance 1991 Actor
 Witchcraft Vs Curse 1991 Brief appearance
 It Runs In The Family 1990 Actor
 Queen Of Temple Street 1990 Cameo
 Unmatchable Match, The 1990 Actor
 Darkside Of Chinatown 1989 Actor
 Final Combat, The 1989 Actor
 Justice Of Life, The 1989 Actor
 My Heart Is That Eternal Rose 1989 Actor
 Running Mate 1989 Actor
 Criminal Hunter, The 1988 Actor
 Devil Curse 1988 Actor
 Devil Sorcery, The 1988 Actor
 Ghost's Hospital 1988 Actor
 Happy Go Lucky 1987 Actor
 Heir To The Throne 1987 Actor
 Legend Of The Book And the Sword, The 1987 Actor
 Price Of Growing Up, The 1987 Actor
 Project A II 1987 Actor
 Reincarnation 1987 Actor
 Blood Sorcery 1986 Actor
 Fury Of The Heaven 1986 Actor
 Man From Holland, The 1986 Actor
 New Heaven Sword And The Dragon Sabre, The 1986 Actor
 Yu Pui Tsuen 1986 Actor
 Curse 1985 Actor
 Dead Curse 1985 Actor
 Working Class 1985 Actor
 Young Vagabond 1985 Actor
 Duke Of Mount Deer, The 1984 Actor
 Foundation, The 1984 Actor
 New Adventures Of Chor Lau Heung, The 1984 Actor
 Siamese Twins, The 1984 Actor
 Brutal Sorcery 1983 Actor
 Farewell 19 1983 Actor
 Hong Kong, Hong Kong 1983 Actor
 Lost Generation 1983 Actor
 Project A 1983 Actor
 Radio Tycoon 1983 Actor
 Roving Swordsman, The 1983 Actor
 Shaolin Vs Wu Tang 1983 Actor
 Brothers From Walled City 1982 Actor
 Coolie Killer 1982 Brief appearance
 Crazy Horse, Intelligent Monkey 1982 Actor
 Demi Gods And Semi Devils I : Six Meridians Divine Sword 1982 Actor
 Demi-Gods And Semi-Devils II : The Legend Of Hui-Juk 1982 Actor
 Energetic 21 1982 Actor
 Interpol 1982 Actor
 Kid From Kwangtung 1982 Actor
 Mahjong Heroes 1982 Actor
 Executor, The 1981 Actor
 Lucky Breaks 1981 Actor
 Struggle, The 1980 Actor
 貼錯門神 1979 Actor
 Chor Lau Heung 1979 Actor
 Crazy Boy And Pop-Eye 1979 Actor
 Descendant Of Wing Chun 1979 Actor
 House Of The Lute 1979 Actor
 Kung Fu Warrior, The 1979 Actor
 Over The Rainbow 1979 Actor
 Bruce Le's Greatest Revenge 1978 Actor
 By Hook And By Crook 1978 Actor
 Giants, The 1978 Actor
 Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre 1978 Actor
 Shaolin Disciples 1978 Actor
 Magic Curse, The 1977 Actor
 Legend Of The Book And the Sword, The 1976 Actor
 Mighty Couple 1971 Actor
 Lonely Rider, The 1970 Actor
 To Crack The Dragon Gate 1970 Actor
 Brave Girl, The 1967 Actor
 Full Moon, The 1967 Actor
 Lady In Black Cracks The Gate Of Hell 1967 Actor
 Dark Heroine Mu Lanhua Shattered The Black Dragon Gang 1966 Actor
 Monkey King And The Imps 1966 Actor
 One Armed Swordsman, The 1966 Actor
 Furious Buddha's Palm, The 1965 Actor
 Monkey Saint Versus Eight Fairies 1965 Actor
 Ring Of Spies, The 1965 Actor
 Sword Of Swords 1965 Actor
 Buddha's Palm (Part 1) 1964 Actor
 Buddha's Palm (Part 2) 1964 Actor
 Buddha's Palm (Part 3) 1964 Actor
 Buddha's Palm (Part 4) 1964 Actor
 Five Swordsmen 1964 Actor
 Flying Phoenix From Wudang (Part 1), The 1964 Actor
 Flying Phoenix From Wudang (Part 2), The 1964 Actor
 Golden Hairpin (Final Episode), The 1964 Actor
 Rainbow Pass, The 1964 Actor
 Seven Fights With Nine Tail Fox 1964 Actor
 Head For Sale 1963 Actor
 Iron Horse And The Magic Dragon, The 1963 Actor
 Iron Wild Goose (Part 1), The 1963 Singer, Actor
 Iron Wild Goose (Part 2), The 1963 Actor
 Legend Of The Condor Heroes, The 1963 Actor
 Monkey Soldiers Come To The Rescue, The 1963 Actor
 Young Boss Of The Factory, The 1963 Actor
 Scarlet Boy 1962 Actor
 Hardworking Wife 1949 Actor
 

 Article    Review    Poster/Gallery    DVD Captures    Trailer    DVD Captures/Trailer  
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Gallery
 
 Kwan Hoi San pictures :  (Hide)
A Touch Of Evil
Shaolin Avengers
A Moment Of Romance II
Heroes Among Heroes
Eight Diagram Cudgel
Mission Of Condor
Red Lips
Queen Of Temple Street
My Heart Is That Eternal Rose
The Man From Holland
Working Class
Young Vagabond
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Project A
The Roving Swordsman
Brothers From Walled City
Kid From Kwangtung
Mahjong Heroes
 
 Other Kwan Hoi San pictures :  (Hide)
A Touch Of Evil (1)
Shaolin Avengers (1)
A Moment Of Romance II (2)
Heroes Among Heroes (1)
All's Well Ends Well (1)
Casino Tycoon (1)
Lee Rock (3)
Red Lips (1)
Queen Of Temple Street (1)
The Justice Of Life (1)
 
More pictures in the gallery
 
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Interview Links  
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