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Hong Kong actor and filmmaker Wu Ma dead at 71

Wu Ma
Wu Ma

Hong Kong director and actor Wu Ma passed away Tuesday from complications due to lung cancer, he was 71 years old. Best known for his work with Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and a protege of Shaw Brothers Studios director Chang Cheh. Wu acted in over two hundred and fifty films, directed forty-two movies and worked as an assistant director on over a half a dozen productions and was nominated for four Hong Kong Film Awards during his career.

Born on September 22, 1944 in Tian Jin, China. He immigrated to Hong Kong in 1960 and began his movie career working within the Shaw Brothers Studios. Wu changed his birth name of Hong Yuan Feng to Wu Ma because it reflected upon his Chinese Horoscope animal the horse. After appearing in small roles in Shaw Brothers action period pieces, Wu began working as an assistant director to the legendary director Chang Cheh. During the late seventies he left Shaw Brothers and worked for several independent companies before settling down with Golden Harvest and Sammo Hung's production company. During his time their, Wu became a comedic character actor due to his unusual look and also directed several pictures.

Wu made the transition from action films to ghost comedies and fantasy/action films such as "A Chinese Ghost Story" (which he said was his favorite film), "Encounters of the Spooky Kind", "The Dead and the Deadly", "Magic Cop" and "Mr. Vampire IV". He also worked with Jackie Chan on the classic movies "Project A", "Mr. Canton & Lady Rose", "Dragons Forever", Police Story 2" and "Wheels on Meals". In 1989, Wu Ma along with former colleagues of Chang Cheh made a benefit film for their former mentor "Just Heroes". Former Shaw Brothers alumni and proteges of the filmmaker such as John Woo, Danny Lee, Stephen Chow, Ti Ling, David Chiang, Lo Lieh, Ku Feng and Shing Fui-on donated their time to take part in the project.

During the late nineties and early 2000's, Wu made the transition to television and continued to act until his cancer prevented him from working. Wu Ma was a great director and character actor who had a unique sense of humor and comedic timing. His contributions to the Hong Kong Cinema were great and he always stole every scene he was in due to his interesting persona and screen presence. He will be missed.