Yang Sze was born 3 July 1946, better known as Bolo Yeung, is a Chinese former competitive bodybuilder, martial artist and a martial arts film actor. Primarily cast as the villain in the movies in which he stars, he is best known for his performances as Bolo in Enter the Dragon (starring Bruce Lee), as Chong Li in Bloodsport (starring Jean-Claude Van Damme), Chang Lee in Bloodfight (starring Yasuaki Kurata and Simon Yam) and for his numerous appearances and long career in Hong Kong’s martial arts films.
Bolo began his martial arts training at the age of 10 in Guangzhou, Guangdong, where he studied under several kung fu masters. Growing up, he took an interest in bodybuilding, and later became Mr. Hong Kong bodybuilding champion. He held the title for ten years. Because of his impressively muscular physique, he was chosen for several bad guy roles in films produced by Shaw Brothers Studios, such as The Heroic Ones, The Deadly Duo, Angry Guest and others. He left Shaw Brothers in 1971.
“During the filming of Enter the Dragon (1973), Bruce and I worked very closely on technique training. We experimented, trying to decide what worked and what wouldn’t. You see, Bruce was always learning, always experimenting, always changing.”
Bolo met Bruce Lee while the two were filming a Winston cigarettes commercial. A friendship emerged and Lee invited him to star in Enter the Dragon, where he became known as “Bolo”, the name of the character he portrayed. The two became close friends during the filming of Enter the Dragon, where Bruce and Bolo worked very closely on technique training. Bolo once stated in an interview, many years after Lee’s death, “There will never be another Bruce Lee; and I am privileged to have had the honor of calling him friend.”
During the 1970s and ’80s, Bolo starred in numerous kung fu films, but his breakout film was Bloodsport. Shot on a $US 1.5 Million budget, it became a US box-office hit in the spring of 1988. Jean-Claude Van Damme had the leading role as Frank Dux, while Bolo Yeung played the role of Chong Li. A strong friendship formed between the two actors on the set of Bloodsport; and Van Damme wanted no one but Bolo to play opposite him in his film (Double Impact) set in East Asia.
Canadian action film actor, director and producer Jalal Merhi met Bolo in Hong Kong while shooting his first film Fearless Tiger, then again on the set of Double Impact. Jalal was impressed with his personality and ability, and decided to create a part specifically for Bolo. Later Merhi worked with Yeung on more films such as Tiger Claws, TC 2000 and Tiger Claws 2.
In 2007, Bolo made a rare appearance as a protagonist in Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter. Jalal Merhi directed the first 60 minutes of the film that was shot in Toronto, but due to other commitments could not complete the remaining part of the film in Russia. Producer Erken Ialgashev directed the remainder of the film.
In the 2019 Cinemax series Warrior, Rich Ting portrays a Hong enforcer named “Bolo” in homage to Bolo Yueng’s role in Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. Warrior was developed from Bruce Lee’s initial writings for the series and features the fictional Bolo as a rival to Ah Sahm (the main protagonist who also has many similarities to Lee).
“I realize I’m still very popular with audiences and that’s makes me very happy. I think that all started with Bruce Lee and Enter the Dragon (1973). All the fans and audiences from 20 years ago still remember Bruce lee as the biggest star. They still have not found anyone to take his place. Also, it helped to work with Jean Claude Van Damme on his movies. Like Bruce lee, Jean-Claude offered a special package, a unique look that attracted and kept audiences coming back.”
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