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Leung Kar Yan (???, born 20 January 1949), also known as Bryan Leung, is a Hong Kong film actor and director who has played roles in numerous acclaimed martial arts films. He is affectionately known as “Beardy” due to his trademark facial hair. He also has characteristic hyper-extendable fingers, which can be observed when he his has palms open and his fingers outstretched. Despite being one of the most well-known faces in Hong Kong action cinema, he had no formal martial arts training, relying on his talents at mimickry to imitate the moves shown to him by the action directors.
His action film career began in 1969, his good looks and natural athleticism taking him to Shaw Brothers, where he appeared in several renowned period kung fu films, although he was rarely offered leading roles. His big-break came under the direction of Sammo Hung, with whom he fought in Enter the Fat Dragon (1978), and co-starred in the seminal Warriors Two (1978). His performance in Warriors Two, as Mr. Tsang, a real-life historical doctor and master of Wing Chun, is described as “the best performance of his career” by Mark Pollard of Kung Fu Cinema, who goes on to write:
Leung Kar Yan continued to work with Sammo Hung, achieving further success with a string of highly-rated kung-fu comedies, including Knockabout (1979), where he and Yuen Biao played crooks being harassed by kung-fu beggar Sammo Hung.
In Dreadnaught (1981), he played Wong Fei Hong’s student. The film again featured Yuen Biao, as well as veteran kung-fu star Kwan Tak-Hing playing Wong Fei Hong. It also marked Leung Kar Yan’s first collaboration with director Yuen Woo-ping, and he would go on to star in several acclaimed Yuen Woo-ping directed films, including Legend of a Fighter (1982), in which he portrayed historical figure Fok Yun Gap, and Miracle Fighters (1982).
Despite this acting success, his 1984 directorial debut, Profile in Anger, was relatively unsuccessful. This marked a lowering of his star profile, as he began to take more supporting roles and less leading roles. He continues to act and direct into the 2000s, occasionally appearing in high-profile films like Last Hero in China (1993), where he co-starred with Jet Li and reprised the role he had played in 1981’s Dreadnaught, and several Stephen Chow vehicles including Legend of the Dragon (1990).
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