Mike Leeder remembers the Hong Kong legend that was Phillip Ko (Ko Fei) and his enduring legacy…
I woke up this morning to the sad news of the passing of one of Hong Kong Cinema’s greatest Kung Fu movie bad yuys and a genuine “Hong Kong Legend”, Phillip Ko (Ko Fei).
With over 240 credits to his name as an actor, 50 films as a director, and numerous films as an action -director and producer, Ko’s career encompassed work at Shaw Brothers, Golden Harvest, Seasonal Films, D&B Films, IFD Films, his own Regent Films as well as countless independent productions and working with everyone from Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Gordon Liu, Andy Lau, Yukari Oshima, Chow Yun-fatt, Cynthia Rothrock, Simon Yam to Darren Shahlavi.
Phillip Ko began his martial arts training in Choy Li Fut and, at the age of 19, he was introduced to Shaw Brothers and began his career as a stuntman and actor, where he worked with director Chang Cheh and action director Lau Kar-leung. He worked with Bruce Lee on both Way of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon as well as countless independent projects in Hong Kong and Taiwan as an actor and action director, before returning to work with the aforementioned Shaw Brothers, Golden Harvest, IFD Films, Movie Impact. Regent Films would later produce all manner of action films in Hong Kong, China, Thailand, the Philippines and even India.
Some of Ko Fei’s most memorable projects include Fists, Kicks & Evils, The Challenger and The Loot, Tiger over the Wall, Legend of a Fighter, Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, Twinkle Lucky Stars, Tiger on the Beat, Eastern Condors, On The Run, Final Run, Killers Romance and Deadly Target.
I met Phillip shortly after I first arrived in Hong Kong – ironically he had just shot Killers Romance in my home-town Croydon and even in my street, mere days after I had left for HK. He was a very interesting man who loved martial arts, movie making… and football! While we never became great friends, we would always chat when we saw each other and I do have great memories of spending time with him and Darren Shahlavi in the Philippines when I visited during the making of Techno Warriors. Sadly both Darren and now Phillip have passed away, but leave behind a legacy with their work on film, and we honour their memory.
Phillip Ko tribute: