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      Hsu Feng, Swordwoman Forever

Long time ago, a fifteen-year-old girl had to quit school to support her family. She went for two interviews, one in a factory and the other in a film company. On the day for the screen test, she found only 12 would be selected over 1,000 applicants. Wearing her shabby white trousers with a blue and white strip T-shirt, she was given a task by the director, "to face a wedding picture of the man she loved with another girl". She hardly had any idea about acting at that time, but looking at the picture, she thought of her own miserable life, and tears naturally came down her cheeks. She heard the director kept saying “Zoom, zoom”, apparently he was touched by the little girl's eyes. She was selected. Fortunately the notice of admittance from the
     

factory didn't arrive until one day later, otherwise her life story or even the history of Chinese cinema could be totally different.

This girl was Hsu Feng, and the director was King Hu, who introduced her to the world of cinema and changed her life entirely from that moment on.

She was soon offered a six-year contract. However, in those six years, she acted in only five films including Dragon Gate Inn and A Touch of Zen. A Touch of Zen alone took four years to finish. In 1975, King Hu took this film to Cannes International Film Festival for competition, and received huge success. Hsu Feng went there too. When she stepped on the red carpet in her elegant Qipao, the excited crowds outside of Palais were cheering and applauding for this brave Chinese heroine, and they wouldn't leave even when the film was over. To Hsu Feng, that year was an important milestone in her life: the film brought great honor to all Chinese; she also felt responsibility this honor had carried along. This sense of honor and responsibility is the reason why Hsu Feng turned her role from an actress to a film producer many years later.

King Hu successfully created a beautiful swordswoman with a sense of justice and super Kung fu on screen. Since then, Hsu Feng, together with the ever-popular Kung fu movies, has become an unforgettable memory of a whole generation in Taiwan, and “Swordswoman” has also become a nickname for Hsu Feng.

"I'm not a lucky little girl who led a colorful life soon after I did my first movie and made a fame internationally. My story was completely different," once she said in an interview, "King Hu was such a strict director, .I had to demand more and more from myself, and in the end I was at a loss of what is a satisfactory result."

In her career, she played different roles in about 50 movies. Apart from being a Kung fu actress, she also challenged herself in a diverse category of films such as literary films, war films and historical films. Her subtle, profound and matured acting skills won her The Best Actress Award at 22nd Asian-Pacific Film Festival and The Best Actress Award at Golden Horse Award in 1976 an 1980 respectively.

In 1980, she chose to retire from her acting career. She married a successful businessman, Mr. David Tong. On her wedding, King Hu gave her a book of press clippings as a gift. Those clippings were all reports and comments about Hsu Feng and her movies. King Hu regarded her early retirement as a great pity.

Hsu Feng became a good wife and a mother of two. Films brought best days to Hsu Feng’s life, then how could she leave all her joys and sorrows in those films behind? They were still in her dreams, in her blood. She talked to her husband about going back to movies, “He finally lost his patience listening to my complaints, and gave me an amount of money to do whatever I like. I thought for a month, and then decided to start a production company.” After four years of silence, Hsu Feng returned to the film industry by establishing “Tomson Film Co., Ltd” in 1986. She resumed her film career, this time, however, not as an actress, but as a film producer.

It is no doubt that Hsu Feng was a professional and successful actress, but she had to learn everything from the very beginning to become a producer. “I knew nothing about being a boss of a film company. All I had was passion.” She recalled. How to achieve the balance between art and business is a tough question even for veteran film producers. After years of ups and downs, she paid her price to have learned a simple truth---The most important rule to make a good film is that it will attract audience to cinemas and enjoy.

Concept changes behavior. Starting from Red Dust in 1990, Tomson films gave out extraordinary splendor in both box office and international accolade. Five Girls and A Rope was another hit. Hsu Feng revealed with pride that when she first went to Cannes in 1975, she noticed that all awards had only one certificate except the Palme d'Or is a golden statue. She prayed one day she would receive this statue. Though it was a long way, her prayer was answered after 18 years. In 1993, the company's signature production Farewell to My Concubine, directed by Chen Kaige, continued the glory of “Swordswoman” Hsu Feng, and won Palme d'Or at Cannes International Film Festival.

Hsu Feng has been honored with a tribute to her work by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, and received “Profession Producteur Award” at 51st Cannes International Film Festival for her contribution to the film industry. In 2001, the Royal Family of the Principality of Monaco appointed Hsu Feng as the Honorary Consul of Monaco in Shanghai.

Missing from the turntable for another 8 years since the hit movie Temptress Moon in 1995, Hsu Feng produced Shanghai Story in 2003. The movie won the best actress award from the 7th Shanghai International Film Festival. Hsu Feng’s legend continues.


Filmography of Hsu Feng

Actress - filmography

Great Hunter, The (1986)

Chase Step by Step (1982)

8 Peerless Treasures (1979)

Raining in the Mountain (1979)

Noble Ninja (1977)

To Kill with Intrigue (1977)

18 Shaolin Disciples (1976)

Longest Bridge, The (1976)

Valiant One, The (1975)

Fate of Lee Khan, The (1973)

Legend of the Mountain (1971)

Touch of Zen, A (1969)

Dragon Gate Inn (1966)

Filmography as Producer

Shanghai Story(2003)

Temptress Moon (1996)

Farewell to My Concubine (1993)

Five Girls and a Rope (1991)

Red Dust (1990)

Young Kick Boxer (1990)

Enter the Young Dragon
(1989)

The Adventure of Kung Fu Kids (1988)

Dreams (1988)

Tsai-Dau and His Friends (1988)

Starry Is the Night (1988)

Runaway Blues (1988)

Never Ending Memory
(1988)

The Kids with Travels through Time
(1987)

Those Ill-fated Kids (1987)


The Game They Called Sex
(1987)

Let me Speak Up
(1987)

Soul (1986)

The Lock of Hearts
(1986)

Kung Fu Kids Part II
(1986)

The Spring Outside the Fence
(1985)

Kung Fu Kids Part I
(1985)

Oldster and Youngster (1985)

The Young and Old Wanderers (1985)


Gorgeous
(1985)

Funny Face
(1984)

The Woman of Wrath
(1984)

Awards and Nominations

Red Dust

Golden Horse Award(Best Actress, Best Artistic Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume & Make-up Design, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress)

Five Girls and One Rope

Tokyo International Film Festival, Silver Award

Nantes Three Continents Festival, Golden Montgolfiere

Rotterdam International Film Festival, FIPRESCI Award

Farewell My Concubine

Academy Awards, USA, Nominated Oscar Best Foreign Language Film

BAFTA Awards, Best Film not in the English Language

Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, Best Foreign Language Film

Camerimage, Silver Frog

Cannes Film Festival, Golden Palm

César Awards, France, Best Foreign Film

Golden Globes, USA, Best Foreign Language Film

London Critics Circle Film Awards, Foreign Language Film of the Year

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Best Foreign Film

National Board of Review, USA, Best Foreign Language Film

New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Best Foreign Language Film & Best Supporting Actress

Political Film Society, USA, Special Award

Temptress Moon

Cannes Film Festival, Nominated Golden Palm

Hong Kong Film Awards, Nominated Hong Kong Film Award

Shanghai Story

2004 The 7th Shanghai International Film Festival - Best Actress Award

2004 The 24th Golden Rooster Award - Best Picture Award, Best Director Award, Best Actress Award, Best Supporting Actor Award

Footprints of the past

May, 1975

French magazine, POSITIF first used a Chinese movie star for its cover page, Hsu Feng's legendary pose from A Touch of Zen

Hong Kong ‘s South China Morning Post credited Hsu Feng's acting as “outstanding, it made western audience to believe there was a female legend in China, her role is immiscible for Chinese women.”

August , 1976

British Magazine “Film and Filming” praised Hsu Feng's misty eyes and impress people with her mysterious beauty, said that persistence and gentleness co-exist in her ….

October , 1976

A Touch of Zen was selected for 14th New York International Film Festival. New York Times reported Hsu Feng's performance is exquisite.

1979

Sept 4th , Montreal's Star Newspaper in Canada commented that “Hsu Feng is a great actress that seldom seen in both eastern and western film world”.

1980

February, British film critic Adrian wrote in Film and Filming to recommend Legend of the Mountain, "Hsu Feng switched from a beauty to a monster, her performance comes with no flaw".

1994

After Hsu Feng took back the first Golden Globe award for Chinese people, Taiwan's Apple Daily said, "Hsu Feng is made of steel, she won this outstanding award through her persistence and ambition."

1998

Mr. Pierre Viot, Chairman of Cannes Interntional Film Festival, “Mme. Hsu Feng is the only Asian, also the only female to receive this Most Outstanding Producer Award. Her life and Cannes has become inseparable, she is part of this film festival. We shall solute for her love, encouragement and contribution to the movie industry”

2005

TIME Magazine included A Touch of Zen as one of the "ALL-TIME 100 Best Films". "Leading the acrobatic procession is Hsu Feng. Just 18 when the film was made, she remains the screen's gravest, most ravishing woman warrior."