Hsu Feng

Hsu Feng (or Xu Feng; born 1950) is a Taiwanese-born actress, producer and business manager. In the 1970s she was one of the leading actresses of the cinemas of Hong Kong and Taiwan, in particular being known for her roles in wuxia films and her work with director King Hu. In 1981 she retired from her career as an actress, but a few years later she returned to the film industry as a producer and went on to produce several award winning movies. Among them was Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine, which won the Palme d’Or (1993) and the BAFTA Award for Best Film not in the English Language (1994) and was nominated for an Academy Award and a César for best foreign film as well.

Hsu was born in Taiwan, her father was originally from Fujian and her mother from Manchuria. Her father died when she was six. Her mother remarried later and got three children from her second marriage. The family was poor and Hsu as the oldest daughter from early on felt an obligation to provide to the family’s income. To earn some money she answered to a casting ad at the age of 15. This ultimately led to a small part in King Hu’s film Dragon Gate Inn sometime later.

About 2 years later after her small role in Dragon Gate Inn at the age of 19 she got a leading part in King Hu’s classic martial arts epos A Touch of Zen. She played the daughter of general Yang, who had to flee the capital after her father was murdered by assassins of the imperial eunuch Wei. Her performance was later described by the film critic Richard Corliss (Time) as the screen’s gravest, most ravishing woman warrior. A Touch of Zen later also changed Hsu’s outlook on films. Originally she just viewed them simply as a commercial product and means to earn living, but after traveling with King Hu to the Cannes Festival to represent A Touch of Zen, she started to regard films as an art form as well. While A Touch of Zen was still in post production, Hsu starred in another film called Ten Days in Dragon City for which she received the Golden Horse Award as best new performer She continued to collaborate with King Hu in a string of films. In The Fate of Lee Khan (1973), The Valiant Ones (1975) and Raining in the Mountain (1979) she was portraying martial artists again and for her role in the ghost story Legend of the Mountains (1979) she received a nomination for the Golden Horse Award as best actress.

Aside from her work with King Hu, Hsu played in over 40 movies often portraying martial artist characters as well. She won the Golden Horse Award as best actress twice for her performances in Assassin (1976) and The Pioneers (1980).

After resigning from her career as an actress in 1981 and a hiatus from the film industry in general, Hsu embarked on a career as producer. She set up her own production company Tomson Films in 1986 and specialized primarily on the production of artistic films. Among others she produced Red Dust (1990), Five Girls and a Rope (1992), Farewell, My Concubine (1993), Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker (1994) and Temptress Moon (1996). For Red Dust she received the Golden Horse Award for the best film. Farewell, My Concubine and Temptress Moon were both directed by Chen Kaige and became international successes. In particular the former received several international awards among them the Palme d’Or (1993), the Golden Globe (1993) and BAFTA (1994) Awards for best foreign film.

Hsu served as a member of the jury at the 44th Berlin International Film Festival in 1994 and at the 61st Venice International Film Festival in 2004.

In 1976 Hsu married Chinese businessman Tong Cun-lin, with whom she has two children. At the request of her husband she withdrew from acting in the early 1980s and started to work for her husband’s business venture. In Shanghai she oversaw the construction of the Tomson Shanghai International Club luxury complex.