Jackie Chan, Ang Lee pay tribute to ‘One-Armed Swordsman’ actor Jimmy Wang Yu, dead at 80

"The contributions you’ve made to kung fu movies, and the support and wisdom you’ve given to the younger generations will always be remembered in the industry"

Taiwanese actor and One-Armed Swordsman star Jimmy Wang Yu has died at the age of 80.

The news was first announced by his daughter, Linda Wang, on Instagram on Tuesday (April 5). Per a translation of her post, Jimmy Wang Yu died “peacefully” after battling illness for six years.

Jimmy Wang Yu suffered two strokes during his lifetime, the first in 2011 and the second in December 2015. Following his second stroke, Yu had to undergo two emergency brain surgeries, and stayed in the hospital for five years. He was reportedly discharged in March 2021.

Jimmy Wang Yu was perhaps best known for his role as the titular character in the 1967 film One-Armed Swordsman. The film would reportedly go on to become first Hong Kong film to make HK$1million at the local box office.

One-Armed Swordsman spawned two sequels – Return Of The One-Armed Swordsman in 1969 which saw Wang reprise his role, and The New One-Armed Swordsman in 1971, which starred John Chiang and Ti Lung.

Wang would go on to star in over 40 more action and martial arts films over the course of his career including One-Armed Boxer (1972), The Man From Hong Kong (1975) and Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976).

Linda Wang wrote on Instagram: “We also believe that his handsome and heroic image as the one-armed swordsman will forever live in the history of films and the hearts of fans.”

Jimmy Wang Yu
Jimmy Wang Yu performing a stunt in ‘The Man From Hong Kong’. Credit: TCD/Prod.DB / Alamy Stock Photo

Several actors and industry veterans have paid tribute to Wang following the news of his death. Jackie Chan wrote on Facebook: “The contributions you’ve made to kung fu movies, and the support and wisdom you’ve given to the younger generations will always be remembered in the industry. And your movies will always remain in the hearts of your fans. We will miss you!”

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Director Ang Lee said in a statement to China News Agency: “It’s with the deepest sorrow that we learned of his passing today. For many fans like me, he represents the vibe of a certain era. His films and his heroic spirit will be deeply missed.”

Veteran broadcaster Robert Chua recalled meeting Wang in the ’60s – see his tribute and others below.

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Wang’s life and career was not without controversy and scandal. He reportedly faced a murder charge in 1981, although the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. And in 2007, Wang claimed in an interview with Taiwanese newspaper The Liberty Times that he had been contracted by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to assassinate former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Hsu Hsin-liang. Wang claimed that the hit job was later aborted, although a Taipei Times report claimed that the actor did not go through with it as he did not receive a written contract.

Wang left the film industry to pursue a career as a businessman in 1997, but returned to acting in 2011 with Wu Xia, which starred Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro.

2013 horror film Soul was Jimmy Wang Yu’s last film. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan.

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