Alexander Fu Sheng.

October 21, 2007

Tragic end of a top money-spinner – Alexander Fu Sheng

Alexander Fu Sheng was the ninth of 11 children of a rich prominent family in Hong Kong. He was considered his father’s favorite son, despite showing little interest in things academic and no desire to try his hand in business.

 

He left school after only 2 years of secondary education, but eventually went on to become more of a money spinner than any other members of his family.

 

Fu Sheng, the stocky and boyish-looking Hong Kong film star, whose untimely death in a car crash at 29 was a great loss to the Chinese movie world, was born on October 20th, 1954, as Cheung Fu Sheng.

 

After leaving school, he showed a keen interest in Kung Fu, the Chinese art of self-defense. At the age of 16, he joined the actor’s training class run by Shaw Brothers. With his natural talent for comedy, he breezed through the course and coupled with his father’s ties with well-known director, Zhang Che, and his friendship with Asian Movie King, David Chiang, found no difficulty in getting into show business.

 

While others spent years trying to break into the big time, Fu Sheng took only a year and minor roles to do so. A second-generation protégé of director Zhang, who also gave him his stage name, Fu Sheng, he shot to fame in his first lead role in “Policeman”, a contemporary drama, This movie, like 22 other films in which he starred in, was directed by his mentor Zhang, who was responsible, in no small way, for his successful movie career.

 

His close relationship with Zhang was obvious because all 22 films made between 1974 to 1980 e.g.:-

 

  • Heroes 2
  • Nacha
  • Boxer Rebellioin
  • Brave Archer Pt. 1 & 2
  • Chinatown Kid
  • Avenging Eagle
  • Deadly Breaking Sword
  • Proud Twins

 

Were shot under Zhang’s direction.

 

His subsequent films between 1981 and 1983 e.g.:-

 

  • Return of the sentimental sword man
  • Brave archer Pt. 3
  • Rat versus Cat
  • My rebellious son
  • Hong Kong Playboys

 

Were not made under Zhang’s direction because Zhang had quit Shaw Brothers.

 

Fu Sheng played the lead role in 32 films altogether and was estimated to have earned at least HK 10 millions from them. He left unfinished 2 projects (one of which he was also directing) half completed and another (with Japanese singer Hideki Saijo) in the planning stages.

 

Unlike David Chiang who always played the conventional hero, Fu Sheng, with his big expressive eyes, chubby face and baby-smooth complexion was never the hero in the traditional mould. He was not invincible, no always righteous, and did not always die the tragic death. At times, he was not even the best fighter in the show.

 

However, his ability to provide comic relief with his slapstick Kung Fu antics, endeared him to audiences. In truth, Fu Sheng was largely responsible for launching the craze in kung fu comedies.

 

His impish grin, funny face and pouting lips plus his boyish good looks and natural agility were the trademarks of his acting.

 

At 23, he married glamorous Taiwanese singer Jenny Tseng after a much publicized 3 years courtship. It was love at first sight for him. He saw her singing at a night-club and was absolutely smitten with her. Later when she was warded for some ailment, he even camped outside the hospital.

 

His marriage to Jenny Tseng was not without it ups and downs. His parents objected to the tempestuous whirlwind romance because she was a year older than him. It was 3 years later that he obtained his parents’ blessings to tie the nuptial knot in December 76.

 

In the movie world, where marriages are known not to last long, theirs seemed to be a happy one until one May !983 when Fu Sheng walked out of their Clear Water Bay Road after a heated argument.

 

He was killed while driving the Porsche 911, a present from his wife. Known for his passion for car racing, it is believed that Fu Sheng’s sport car crashed along the hilly road into a cliff one night after he had dinner with his brother and some friends at the Country Club at Clear Water Bay.

 

Fu Sheng has been disqualified from driving and fined HK 1,000 by a magistrate for careless driving just 12 hours before the tragedy. He died 5 hours after the car crash. His elder brother Cheung Chun Pang, 35, survived the accident.

 

At his funeral, more than 2500 actors, friends and fans turned up to pay respect and mourned the passing of the Peter Pan of the Chinese Silver Screen.

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One of the things that I do miss living here in Sarawak is the extensive availability of Kung fu materials, in prints and videos, found in shops scattered all over Singapore.

 

Some of these shops have been in this business for, like, the past 10 – 15 years and their collection of titles are really remarkably comprehensive.

 

These days, it’s a real cinch to find these materials. Back when I was a kid, book shops were really “far and apart” and even then, they carry mainly school texts and “mainstream” subjects’ books.

 

I remember this one “itinerant” operator; he appeared in only open-air night markets and his books were really “hardcore” CKF – either Kung Fu books or “Wu Xia” novels.

 

I lived in a small village in the eastern part of the island and he was there only Fridays. So putting aside daily school pocket allowances to visit him became a routine; one that was to last until today.

 

Every time I am back in Singapore, I will religiously do my CKF book shops rounds – notwithstanding wind or rain……

 

This clip is from a DVD I picked up this recent trip – Pak Mei’s Sup Ji Kuen.

 

Cheers.