Thursday, October 4, 2012
Shaw Brothers Cinema: Austin Wai Tin Chi Passes Away At 55
It's being reported on Chinese websites and various facebook fan pages that Austin Hui Tien Chi (also Wei Tien Chi and Wai Tin Chi in Cantonese) has passed away at 55 years of age from an undisclosed illness. If you're a fan of HK cinema, you've likely seen his face in numerous Shaw Brothers productions and independent kung fu features mostly as a background, or supporting player.
Appearing in movies since he was 12 years of age, Austin Wai's pending lead role status was sidelined after he incurred a severe back injury in September of 1979 while working on KILLER CONSTABLE (1980) from director Kuei Chi Hung. His lead debut in THE MAGNIFICENT SPEARMAN (see spread below), also in production at that time from director Lo Mar (MONKEY KUNG FU, FIVE SUPERFIGHTERS [which featured Wai as one of the five]; both 1979), was abandoned leaving the film unfinished and Austin's career was temporarily stalled for several months.
Wai's lead role in Shaw's GANGMASTER (1982) from television director and martial arts choreographer Tsui Siu Ming (see photo at right) was telling of a possibly stellar career ahead. However, he never broke big, but he did find steady work in many more movies and television after he left Shaw studio.
Austin himself became an action choreographer and was nominated for a Best Action Choreography award for GENERATION PENDRAGON in 1999. His sister is HK cinema superstar Kara Hui Ying Hung. Austin Wai's career in Asian cinema lasted nearly four decades.