Yu So-chow, the Agile "Black Peony"

Yu So-chow, whose real name was Yu Xiaofeng, was born into a Peking opera family. Her father, Yu Zhanyuan, was a famous Peking opera wusheng (male lead in a martial role) himself, as well as the master of the renowned "Seven Little Fortunes" which includes Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao. With a strong background in martial arts, Yu began performing on stage at the age of eight and was already an established daomadan (female lead in a martial role) during her teenage years. Because of her agility, she was immediately cast in a number of martial arts films when she moved to Hong Kong. She also brought her Peking opera skills to good use, starring in many opera films that blended the northern and southern styles. That gave her the opportunity to grow close to Cantonese opera actresses such as Tang Bik-wan and Law Yim-hing. The actresses became stage sisters, forming the famous "Eight Peonies", of which Yu was dubbed the "Black Peony".

Yu passed away on 12 May this year. To commemorate the agile "Black Peony", the Hong Kong Film Archive is screening nine of her films from the 1960s, five of which are making it to the Archive's screen for the first time. They cover a wide range of genres, from period wuxia to opera to mystery and romance, highlighting Yu's versatility as an actress.

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