Being that it is Women's History Month here in the US, it seemed like the perfect time to honor arguably the greatest kung fu actress ever, Angela Mao, the 'Lady Whirlwind'!! Most of the world first got to know her as Su Lin, the doomed sister of Bruce Lee in "Enter The Dragon"(1973). But that was part of a busy career for the Taiwanese-born star, a career which includes many memorable fight scenes that will have your jaw drop.
She started training as an actress from the age of 5 in an opera school, normal for that time. Her classmates included notable stars like Judy Lee and James Tien. At the age of 19, she was discovered by director Huang Feng and was then signed to a deal with Raymond Chow's Golden Harvest Studios. Her first film was The Angry River, and this began a slew of notable films such as Lady Whirlwind, Hapkido, Broken Oath, The Tournament and others. Angela's beauty was as striking as her fighting prowess; she learned hapkido and taekwondo under her trainer/co-star Whang In Sik as well as being proficient in wushu and other forms. But, as much as she gained great fame, she wasn't immune to the pitfalls an actress would encounter. For example, you know what she got for her prominent but brief role in 'Enter The Dragon'? A whopping 100 US dollars. Probably far less than her male counterpart would get. Also, some of the films she appeared in never really let her display the full range of her skills, a fate that also befell stars like Chang Pei Pei and Lily Ho before her.
Make no mistake, even the most casual of fans should get a chance to catch her films. Her skills are extraordinary. In The Tournament, she not only manages to kick ass using traditional Chinese boxing, but also competes in the Muay Thai ring in Bangkok!! Her acrobatic prowess is also a sight to behold. Check out one fight clip below to see what I mean:
Angela retired at age 30 to focus on her family, and has only made a few cameos since 1980. But due to her appeal, a good deal of her films are now available to the general public on DVD and online as well. Keep checking back here for more posts on Angela and her films!