Ni Kuang Dead: Leading Hong Kong screenwriter was 87

Ni Kuang, one of Hong Kong’s most important screenwriters and novelists, has died. He was 87.

He died in Hong Kong on Sunday, local media reported skin cancer as the cause of death.

Ni wrote about 300 screenplays, many in the martial arts genre and many for the Shaw Brothers studio with co-writer Chang Chen. He wrote the screenplays for the classic films The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and One Armed Swordsman and was involved in two of Bruce Lee’s six films The Big Boss and Fist of Fury, although credit went to Wei Lo.

As a novelist, Ni wrote The New Adventures of Wesley, a series of detective stories that often involved aliens and extraterrestrial creatures. These were originally published in the Ming Pao newspaper in the 1960s and spawned numerous films and television series (some titled “Wisely”).

“For those who are a bit old, they all know that the three greatest talents in the literary world are Jin Yong (commonly known as Louis Cha), Gu Long and Ni Kuang. After that, no such iconic and groundbreaking people have emerged,” said Tenky Tin, spokesman for the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, in quotes provided to the South China Morning Post. “I wonder if this is the end of an era.” Gu died in 1985. Cha passed away recently, in 2018.

Ni’s own backstory is just as colorful. He was born in 1935 in what was then the Republic of China, although accounts of the location, either Ningbo or Shanghai, differ. As a young man in early communist China, he worked as a security guard in Inner Mongolia, writing death sentences. He bowed to authoritarian rule and fled to Hong Kong in 1957.

He then quickly established himself as a novelist and, in the 1960s, as a screenwriter.

He remained a staunch anti-communist throughout his life and never set foot in mainland China again. He said that individual freedom and freedom of expression are of the utmost importance. “Having left the mainland, I am free without restrictions and free to speak and think freely,” he told a 2019 interviewer.

Ni left Hong Kong in 1992, before the territory was handed over from British rule to the Chinese in 1997, and moved to the United States. In 2006 he returned to Hong Kong as his wife could not adjust to life in the USA. But he remained skeptical about the way the city was controlled. “The Communist Party decides everything. There is not one country, two systems,” a reference to the promise to maintain Hong Kong’s way of life until 2047.

Ni received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2012 Hong Kong Film Awards. In 2018, he won the Hong Kong Screenwriters’ Guild Jubilee Honor Award. Ni Kuang Dead: Leading Hong Kong screenwriter was 87

Charles Jones

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