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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shaw Brothers Cinema: Eight Gorgeous Ladies of Shaw


One of the Shaw's most wildly popular discoveries was Ivy Ling Po, a native of Amoy (Xiamen), China. She shot to overnight success with her role in the massive hit, THE LOVE ETERNE (1963). Many more roles followed in all genres. While she was most famous for her operas and dramas, Ivy likewise found a niche for her abilities in swordplay pictures such as DUEL FOR GOLD (1970), THE CRIMSON CHARM (1971) and THE 14 AMAZONS (1972).

Various photos of Ivy with her fans

Very much in demand, it wasn't unusual for Ivy to be working on as many as six movies at one time during the 1960s. Of her numerous awards, she won the Best Actress Award in 1964 at the 11th Asian Film Festival for her role in LADY GENERAL HUA MU-LAN.

Behind the scenes on THE CRIMSON CHARM (1971)

Her marriage to fellow Shaw actor, Chin Han was a bit of a shocker considering Ivy was already engaged to another Shaw star, Paul Chang Chung. The two are still married today and continued to maintain an 'on again, off again' relationship with the film industry over the years.


This Taiwanese sensation made her official debut in Shaw's SONG OF ORCHID ISLAND (1965) sharing the screen with Cheng Pei pei and Paul Chang Chung.

Possessing an innocence about her beauty, Lily Ho quickly made a name for herself in the Wuxia actioner, THE KNIGHT OF KNIGHTS (1966), a film that began production under the direction of the revered Chang Cheh, who also wrote the script. Showcasing her sensuality in the classic TILL THE END OF TIME (1966), Lily made a smooth transition into action films in both modern day and period piece fantasies.

She was an ace as a Bond style super spy in ANGEL WITH THE IRON FISTS (1966), its sequel THE ANGEL STRIKES AGAIN (1968) and the elusive THE BRAIN STEALERS (1968). Her Wuxia spectaculars include THE WATER MARGIN (1972), THE 14 AMAZONS (1972) and the risque taboo trashing INTIMATE CONFESSIONS OF A CHINESE COURTESAN (1972).

Behind the scenes on THE SILVER FOX (1968); Note Lily gets injured attempting a stunt.

Unfortunately for her fans, and like many Asian film actresses, Lily Ho retired abruptly in 1974 to get married while her acting iron was still blazing hot.

Lily Ho in LOVE BLOSSOMS aka THE ORCHID (1970) also starring Tina Chin Fei.


This mesmerizing beauty was a popular Shaw Brothers starlet predominantly during the latter half of the 1960s where she wowed audiences in dramas, thrillers and comedy-musicals such as TILL THE END OF TIME (1966), TORRENT OF DESIRE (1969), GUESS WHO KILLED MY TWELVE LOVERS (1970) and LOVE WITHOUT END (1970).

A Cantonese speaker, Jenny Hu grew up in Taiwan, later joining her parents to live in West Germany in 1960. She returned to Taipei in 1965 and was eventually signed up for training in Shaw's Southern Drama Group before appearing in the studios TILL THE END OF TIME directed by Chin Chien (a popular director who was found dead in his quarters at Shaw studio June 15th, 1969).

She left Shaw Brothers in August of 1970 to take time off for her son and husband, Hong Wei. By 1971, she had returned to acting in independent features and even managed to participate in an action picture, or two.


Another strikingly attractive actress, Tina was a graduate of Shaw's Southern Drama Group. Signing with the studio in 1964, she went on to a successful career at Shaw's throughout the remainder of the 1960s and into the early part of the 1970s before leaving the company in 1972.


She excelled in sexy roles which were put to good use in a string of spy pictures such as OPERATION: LIPSTICK (1967) and SUMMONS TO DEATH (1967). Her strong, yet sensual persona was typified in the James Bond styled, jewel heist actioner THE TEMPTRESS OF A THOUSAND FACES (1968).

Amidst some dramas, Tina also featured in martial arts adventures including the troubled, unfinished production THE DRINKING KNIGHT (a film that started over from scratch twice and changed its cast and crew as many times and was still never completed), THE 14 AMAZONS (1972) and THE FOUR RIDERS (1972) for Chang Cheh.

Tina Chin Fei and Lily Ho in LOVE BLOSSOMS aka THE ORCHID (1970)


Shen Yi (left)

Another discovery from Taiwan and a native of Peiping, Shen Yi came to Hong Kong to further her schooling, but changed her mind and joined Shaw Studio instead. While not as big a star as many of her colleagues, Shen Yi possessed a wide eyed allure that she brought to a number of movies including a few swordplay productions.

She made her big splash in PRINCESS IRON FAN in 1966 (the sequel to MONKEY GOES WEST from the same year) and followed that with CAVE OF THE SILKEN WEB (another MONKEY sequel, 1967), the modern actioner, GUN BROTHERS (1968) and Wuxia formula films like KILLER DARTS (1968) and SWORDSWOMEN THREE (1970).


Not to be confused with Shaw's exploitation Queen, Chen Ping, this fiesty young actress with the pouty face and powerful sword strike joined Shaw's in 1963, a short time before many of her more prolific and popular colleagues.

Behind the scenes in Korea shooting THE BLACK ENFORCER (1972) in 1969

Still, her brief career was populated with some choice productions such as THE MAGNIFICENT TRIO (1966), THE BELLS OF DEATH (1968), KILLER DARTS (1968), VENGEANCE IS A GOLDEN BLADE (1969), THE BLACK ENFORCER (1972; shooting started in 1969) and the top hit of 1970, THE TWELVE GOLD MEDALLIONS. She bowed out of the film industry that same year, not with a swordplay epic, but with a drama in THE PRICE OF LOVE (1970).


Another Taiwanese discovery, Chiao Chiao honed her acting chops in Chang Cheh he-man movies like ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN (1967) and THE ASSASSIN (1967). She married actor Huang Chung Shun in 1963, but by 1969, the couple was separated with Chiao then moving in with her brother.

Chiao Chiao briefly enjoys her birthday in a break of the shooting for HEADS FOR SALE (1970).

With her passive, but resolute stature in her early roles, Chiao turned some heads when she began cropping up as the lead in swordplay movies such as THE BLACK BUTTERFLY (1968) and HEADS FOR SALE (1970). She left Shaw Brothers in 1972.


This amazingly attractive and spunky woman from Beijing became one of the Shaw's biggest stars in the early 1960s. She was something of a pre 'Baby Queen', Li Ching in terms of popularity.

But by the late 1960s, Angela's roles turned to a more sex bomb, sensual and duplicitous persona. This was exemplified in her man-eater role in Lo Wei's DEATH VALLEY (1968). Her high sexuality quotient was clearly evident here and also in other movies such as TORRENT OF DESIRE (1969) and Chang Cheh's DEAD END (1969).

Some of her notable roles were in such films as THE BLUE & THE BLACK (1966), HONG KONG RHAPSODY (1968) and THE MILLIONAIRE CHASE (1969), the latter of which she shared the screen with the Shaw beauties Lily Ho, Chin Ping and a debuting Betty Ting Pei. Angela's 60s era pictures will undoubtedly be known as her most shining achievements.

Known to be an incredibly down to earth individual, Angela Yu Chien's popularity (like some of her colleagues) was far reaching, and not just in Asian territories; even as far as the United States. She was also an accomplished saxophone player. Sadly, Angela Yu Chien passed away in 2004 from cancer. Like most of those featured above, Angela has left behind a memorable, as well as indelible resume and screen persona that has survived decades, becoming an important and classic addition to Hong Kong's illustrious place in world cinema.



duriandave said...

Thanks as always for generous scans! I especially liked the pinups of Yu Chien. And it's cool to learn that she played the saxophone. I've seen a picture of her holding a sax, but I always thought that maybe it was just a prop.

venoms5 said...

I have a spread showing off various starlets (including Cheng Pei pei and Li Ching) and their hobbies with playing certain instruments. I had meant to scan one or more of them, but will likely do so on another post. A couple of the photos show her playing the alto sax and a brief snippet that states she likes to play ballads and notes that the instrument isn't preferred by girls.

Thanks for stopping by, Dave! I actually was aiming these towards you and Glenn as I knew you guys appreciated other aspects of HK cinema as opposed to the usual, and seemingly more popular kung fu motifs.

Fazeo said...

Fantastic piece as always. Loved the beautiful scans.

venoms5 said...

Thanks so much, Fazeo, I'm glad you liked it!

Fang Shih-yu said...

More astounding rarities from your archives, venoms5! Thanks for leading off with that great ad for The Crimson Charm, featuring the previously-profiled Shih Szu!

Many surprises here, including the sequence of shots with Lily Ho after getting her injury. Pictures like that must have bothered her, to some degree, especially when used as publicity!

venoms5 said...

@ Fang: For the next one, it's gonna be another Shi Szu special and maybe one or two other ladies. I haven't made up my mind yet. Glad you liked it, Fang!

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