HK Cinema - 1960
Sammo was born in 1952 and within a few years
he was constantly asking his parents to enroll him into a Peking Opera
School. In 1960 they agreed and he was enrolled in the Zhonggou Xiju Xueyan
School in Kowloon where he soon became known as Big Brother. Though large
in size it soon became apparent that he had wonderful physical skills.
In HK magazine Sammo is asked how such a large man could move so fast.
Sammo replies "I think it's maybe because when
I was young I trained very hard when I was 9-years old. I had a hard time
at school. I started getting fat when I was 14-years old but at that time
I was still training. I could feel something . . . my body bothering me
but ssswwwwhhtt! I could still move like a cat".
A year later he was joined by Jackie Chan,
then Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah. The troupe became known as The Seven Little
Fortunes when they performed.
Life was not easy at school. The hours were long
and the training in acrobatics, martial arts, singing and dancing was incredibly
arduous. To get a feeling for this type of life, you can watch Painted
Faces a film with Sammo that depicts this life. In Jackie’s book – I am
Jackie Chan – the chapters devoted to those years are fascinating.
HK - 1960
Time was against these types of schools though
as very few parents were willing to let their children undergo such a harsh
life. Slowly they began to go out of business. Certainly this is understandable,
but when you compare the physical skills of a Sammo or Jackie or Yuen or
Angela Mao to today’s stars one can’t help but wish these places still
existed to train future HK film stars.
Sammo left school first when he was 16-years
old. Jackie and the others soon followed him and in 1971 the school was
closed for good.