Gordon Liu (刘家辉, born Sin Kam-hei 冼锦熙, August 22, 1951) is a retired Hong Kong martial artist, stuntman, actor and veteran action star whose career started in Shaw Brothers. He is most well-known outside of China for his role as the Shaolin monk San Te in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and appearing in both Kill Bill films, respectively as Johnny Mo in the first and Pai-Mei in the second.
Born Sim Kam-hei in Guangdong, Gordon Liu was given away as a child to another wealthier, prestigious family, with the surname Liu, where Gordon officially changed his name to match that of his adoptive family.
Having an interest in martial arts since young, Liu started his martial arts training at age 8, despite his family's objections, in Hong Kong's prestigious Lau Opera Stunt Troupe (headed by veteran director and action choreographer Lau Kar-leong). As a child, Gordon Liu would actually skip school to train in martial arts, being the top of his class in the academy. Upon graduation, he spends most of his youth working two jobs at a time to support his family, being an clerk as his day job while teaching night classes in his former martial arts academy.
Liu started his acting career in 1973 at age 22, mostly as extras, in Hong Kong's prestigious Shaw Brothers studios, then making a booming business in their golden era in the 70s with their stable of martial arts icons whose ranks includes Ti Lung, David Chiang, Danny Lee, Chen Kuan-tai, Fu-sheng, Lo Lieh, Philip Kwok, and several others, but as their stars begin jumping ship to seek further opportunities, the studios noticed Gordon Liu, then having been in a few of their movies and having the potential as a new action icon, decide to cast the up-and-coming Liu as Wong Fei-hung in 1976's Challenge of the Masters.
Gordon Liu would make it big a couple years later in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, one of the most iconic and influential martial arts films in action cinema, and cementing himself as a worthy successor of Shaw Brother studio's alumni of action icons. His portrayal in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin would typecast him as Shaolin monks in Martial Club, Fury in Shaolin Temple, Executioners from Shaolin, Legendary Weapons of China and of course the sequel to his breakout hit, Return to the 36th Chamber, although every now and then Liu would show up in modern-day films mostly as villains.
Gordon Liu retired from acting in 2011 due to ongoing health issues after suffering a stroke.
Tropes related to this performer:
- Bald of Awesome: Ever since his iconic role in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, more than half of his roles are as Shaolin monks. Even if he's showing up in a film set in modern day, he still sports a shaved head; although if he's playing a villain he would be sporting a Bald of Evil instead.
- Barefisted Monk: Most of his roles.
- Simple Staff: He's an expert in using these to kick copious amounts of ass.
- Training from Hell: He's subjected to these in most of his Shaolin-themed films. In the second Kill Bill he notably subjects Uma Thurman through one.
- 7 Man Army
- Dirty Ho
- Shaolin and Wu Tang
- Fists of the White Lotus
- Executioners from Shaolin
- The36th Chamberof Shaolin
- Return to the 36th Chamber
- Disciples of the 36th Chamber
- The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
- Challenge of the Masters
- Tiger on Beat - appears in both movies, but as different characters
- Marco Polo
- Shaolin Martial Arts
- Shaolin Mantis
- Shaolin Vs Evil Dead
- The Spiritual Boxer - shows up in the sequel
- Drunken Master
- My Heart is That Eternal Rose
- Killer Angels
- Kill Bill - both movies, respectively as Johnny Mo and Pai Mei
- True Legend (2010) - The Cameo
- The Man with the Iron Fists - The Cameo
- Flying Swords of Dragon Gate