Vincent Zhao

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Vincent Zhao (born April 10, 1972), also credited as Chiu Man-Cheuk, is a Chinese martial artist and a television and film actor. He is best known for his potrayal of the Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung in the Once Upon a Time in China television series and films (Once Upon a Time in China IV and V).


1992–1996: Beginnings and Wong Fei-Hung

Vincent Zhao(Chiu Man-Cheuk) 

In 1992, Hong Kong film producer Corey Yuen went to Beijing Sport University to scout a skilled martial artist to play the role of Governor of Kau-Man for his 1993 film Fong Sai-Yuk. Yuen found Zhao through Zhao's martial arts instructor and was immediately impressed with Zhao's kung fu talent. Initially, Zhao was uninterested because he had no hopes to step into the acting industry, but Yuen insisted to offer Zhao the role because Zhao had "the skill and looks." After further encouragement from peers and instructors, Zhao accepted the offer and filming began that same year.

Zhao was often teased for looking too nice and too young for the role because Governor of Kau-Man was the main villain in the film, but under the instructions of directors and Yuen, Zhao quickly learned the easiest way to "look evil": "The director told me: Chiu Man-Cheuk, when you look at people, don't look at them like how you usually do. You must look at them from the corner of your eyes with your profile facing them. That way, you will look evil.'During filming, Zhao also enrolled in acting classes for three months.

A month into the filming of Fong Sai-Yuk, a contract between Hong Kong producer Tsui Hark and kung-fu star Jet Li could not be renewed, and Li was not able to film the fourth installment of the Once Upon a Time in China saga as the lead role, Wong Fei Hung. Tsui heard about a rookie working in Fong Sai-Yuk and was interested in the youth. He met with Zhao on the set of Fong Sai-Yuk and was impressed with Zhao's acting and fighting abilities.

He then quickly signed him in to replace Li's role in the fourth installment. Fong Sai-Yuk was released in March 1993 and became a box-office hit in Hong Kong, grossing HK $30,666,842. Impressed with Zhao's martial arts talent and image, Tsui Hark encouraged Zhao to sign a three-year contract to be a full-time actor. Zhao returned the offer, stating that his education was the most important. Nonetheless, he continued to devote into filming during school vacations for Green Snake (1993) and Once Upon a Time in China IV (1994).

Box office results for Once Upon a Time in China IV grossed less than the first three installments, it was significant enough to continue the franchise with a fifth installment, Once Upon a Time in China V (1995). While shooting a scene, Zhao slipped during a fighting sequence and injured his head. He was rushed to the hospital and got stiches, but he recovered quickly and shooting continued after several weeks.[11] That film was Zhao's last portrayal of the Chinese folk hero in the films, and Li returned as the role in the sixth and last installment, Once Upon a Time in China and America (1997).

After Once Upon a Time in China V filming finished, Zhao continued his portrayal of Wong Fei-Hung in the Once Upon a Time in China television series, which were also produced by Tsui Hark. The series aired in local Hong Kong television (ATV) for two years. The television series were rated highly in Hong Kong (although Once Upon a Time in China: The Final Victory only had moderate success in the industry) and Zhao was quickly acclaimed to be the new Wong Fei-Hung and to be following Jet Li's footsteps to stardom.

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