Bolo Yeung Interview [Archived]

I was not able to meet Bolo in April because not having enough time. After coming back from Cannes, I accidentally met him in Beijing. He came to Beijing to discuss some business collaboration. I had a chance to have an interview with him. Rather than a proper interview, it was actually a small talk about movies, life and a review of the 1970’s and 1980’s with easygoing, cheerful Bolo.

The first time I met Bolo was yesterday in a restaurant. We did not talk a lot as we did not know each other very well. Bolo is a quiet person. But it was a bit different. Before doing martial art, Bolo did bel canto. He told me about his story when he was learning opera. As I also did opera before, we found a lot in common which gave me chance to know Bolo again from lots of different aspects including interest, experience and so on. I can draw the conclusion that Bolo is a both a good teacher and a five star friend.

I heard that Bolo met some black bros when he was talking with Gao Fei in a bar at 16th night. They came to him and took photo with him. One of them said that when he was a kid, his favourite TV program was a talk show hosted by a white guy wearing a white gown talking about the Chinese martial art movie “Enter the Dragon”. He was really a super star in American at that time.

Here is some part of the interview of this afternoon (18th June). Let s have a look and get some knowledge about Mr. Yeung.

Lilyma: Basically, Bolo has been an action movie director and started shooting movie in Hong Kung 10 years before I was born.

What was it like at that time?

Bolo Yeung: In the 1970s, I was an action movie director in Hong Kong. During that time, the independent film was in popular in Honk Kong. I left “Shaw Brothers” in 1971 and started to shoot my own films such as “Enter the Dragon” (1973), “Chinese

Lilyma: Are action movies at that time different with those shoot now?

Bolo Yeung: At that time, action movies were mainly martial arts, kick and boxing only with out heavy weapons. Even blades and swords were rarely appeared in the movies until Hark Tsui (Xu Ke) made his “Warriors from the Magic Mountain” in 1983. Then there were action comedies. Jackie Chan started to show up on the stage with “Drunken fist”(1978) and “Snake in Eagle’s Shadow” (1976) etc.

Lilyma: When did you go to the Hollywood?

Bolo Yeung: I went to the Hollywood in 1986 for a movie “Bloodsport”. It was the first movie that Jean-Claude Van Damme and I worked together. I acted a very bad guy in that movie.It was Jean-Claude Van Damme s first movie to act the leading role and he really had his name up with that movie.After that it was “Double Impact” in 1990, with Jean-Claude Van Damme again.

Lilyma: Was the “Enter the Dragon” acted by you and Bruce Lee affirmed by the Hollywood?

Bolo Yeung: Yes. This movie was invested by Warner Bros and Golden Harvest.

Lilyma: Is it amazing to combine music and Kung Fu? I heard Mr. Yeung did music before learning martial art.

Bolo Yeung: Well, music in action movie should match the movie. Some musicians just make music for action movies randomly as they don t understand the movement, methodology, rule and rhythm of the Kung Fu. There are very few musicians who know Kung Fu and vice versa.

Lilyma: Tell me something about the Qigong?

Bolo Yeung: Qigong is difficult and complicated. Basically, it is concerning breath.People don t know the correct way to breathe. Why do I say this? A small puppy s bark can pass even further than human s yelling. This is because people don’t know how to use the breath. The breath directly interferes with the singer. Nowadays pop singers don t need to be good to be popular. Therefore many pop singers have louder voices talking than singing.

Let’s look back to 1970’s. At that time, Deng Li Jun was already the hottest star. Even though, she still went to Japan to have training. She woke up to practice at 5 o clock every morning, 2 hours earlier than the other singers. People with her persuaded her to have more sleep as they thought her CD would still be sold a lot even Deng did not practice. She answered that the reason why she would rather get up early to practice than sleep was she did not only sing to fans but also to
professionals. Being successful doesn’t equal to excellence and vice versa.

Sometimes pianist can t afford the piano while people who can afford the piano can t play it. A lot of artists are excellent but not successful. And also there are lots of succeeded people without any excellence. Deng Li Jun just wanted to be not only successful but also excellent. It was a self requirement without any pressure from anybody other than herself.

When I have no movie to make I still practice martial art a lot. It is not working if you just start practicing 3 months before the shooting. It is impossible to show people your best in 3 months. Among those people who have religion, there are small proportions of people who do good things but conditionally. They are
opportunists. The reason why they do good things is the fear of the hell and the desire for the heaven. This kind of person may not necessarily still do good things if there is no heaven or hell. This kind of person made the meaning of people into data.

A lot of things are screwy now. Confucianism nearly disappeared. Taoism became the tool to tell geomantic omen. Even the Buddhism temple is became a profiting organization. There are even more. But I don t think I would like to talk about it

Lilyma: Can we talk about your work experience with Bruce Lee?

Bolo Yeung: A lot people ask me about Bruce especially foreigners. What kind of person he was? He was a man with specially thoughts. He was affable to people working for him. He drove Mercedes-Benz and crouched in the dust playing pokers with his staff. But when meeting his boss, he was always the one sitting while his boss standing.

Lilyma: Was he the kind of person who attached importance to personal loyalty or brotherhood?

Bolo Yeung: We can’t just say he attached importance to it or not. He would just say: I am what I am.

Lilyma: Was he doing himself in the movie?

Bolo Yeung: The characters he did in his movies were all heroes. They were powerful, but simple. In the real life, Bruce Lee was a people with deep inside. He thought about a lot of things nothing to do with martial art. Such as how we should do to be a human? Such as where are we from and what we come to this world for? Is there a God or any higher power? Is there metempsychosis? What he advocated was add to it . Add a bit to your energy, skill and spirit and so on. Everything needs to be added on a bit everyday. Thus people can progress.

Lilyma: Can I think it was his self requirement not to be satisfied by the current status?

Bolo Yeung: Yes. Always look for breakthrough. Those who can deny themselves and often make breakthroughs will never be defeated and never be eliminated. Most of people are even not brave enough to question the tradition. How could they be supposed to question the rules they are executing for decades?

Why do we bother thinking about these things? What will we get to research them? Is there any commercial benefit? No! As a martial art master, it is more realistic to open more martial are academies to earn more money. So, why do we explore these things? The martial art needs people to push to progress. We have to break the boundary of the rigid criterion, outdated traditions and all which prevent martial art from progressing.

Lilyma: What s your understanding of martial art?

Bolo Yeung: How do we judge whether a thing is right or wrong? We should look at its purpose. What the purpose of martial art? Is it for a healthy body? Is it for good moral? Is it for better self-restraint? Each of them is the purpose of martial art but none of them is the ultimate one. The ultimate purpose of the martial art is to defeat your enemy at quickly as possible.

If this is the ultimate purpose of martial art, we have the reason to think about whether the way of modern athletic wushu taolu (the name for a modern sport similar to gymnastics involving the performance of adapted Chinese bare-handed and weapons forms judged to a set of contemporary aesthetic criteria for points) is correct or not.

Lilyma: Is this the origin of martial art?

Bolo Yeung: Opinions differ from each other. It leaves people to judge by their selves. I don’t like judging people are right or wrong. But in my opinion, the way to judge a thing is to look at its ultimate purpose.

Lilyma: I am always dreaming to knock my enemies down but haven’t got any chance till now. lol.

Bolo Yeung: Let’s talk about an experiment first. If we play classical music in front of metal particulates or sand, we will see them form into graphics. These substances respond to the audio broadcasted to them. Playing the same music to plants will make them grow better. But if we play noise instead of classical music, these plants will die away. Music affects people. It changes people s mood, mind and even energy. Good music has it’s symmetry, segmentation and rhythm which benefit people. For example, Mozart’s music and Beethoven can improve spatial inferential ability.

Lilyma: I am totally with your point. I have experience about what you said. Actually, music is a perfect tool for me to adjust myself in my work and in my life. I can’t imagine how I can be without music.

Bolo Yeung: The foundation of our Chinese culture includes the Great Wall, Tai Chi and “The Art of War”. Great Wall was about defending. So was Tai Chi and so was “The Art of War”. Why do we always defend? Tai Chi never actively attacks. The art of war says: “Retreating when the enemy advances”. Bruce Lee thought in different way. His way is advancing when the enemy advances. I would like to point this out by this chance. Exports are welcome to enter into it.

Lilyma: In 2006, there was a ranking of the “Top 10 Kung Fu Movie Stars” on Yahoo. You were ranked in second place in front of Jet Li and Jackie Chan and just behind Bruce Lee. How do you like this ranking?

Bolo Yeung: It was voted by about 50 thousand people. Experts and fans classified me into Jeet Kune Do. PS: There are a lot of people who are said to be doing JKD. But actually they are Just maKing Dollars rather than doing real JKD. Anyway it is

Lilyma: Aha, Bolo I like your humour. Oh well, I heard years ago, there was a band wrote a song for you. We heard about this song. What do you think about it?

Bolo Yeung: We are all Insignificant. Don’t turn back if you are walking long way.

Lilyma: I finally found a title for this interview till now. We are all Insignificant. Don’t turn back if you are walking long way. Just give this sentence back to you Mr.Yeung.






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