Bolo Yeung, born Yang Sze on July 3, 1946, is a Chinese bodybuilder, martial artist, and martial arts film star. During his career, Bolo Yeung was primarily cast as a villain in his film roles. Bolo Yeung is best known for his performances as Bolo (Enter the Dragon), as Chong Li (Bloodsport), and as Chang Lee (Bloodfight). Yeung’s muscular frame and intimidating aura have made him a favorite of martial arts fans for decades.
Bolo Yeung Early Life
Bolo Yeung began his training in the martial arts at the age of 10 in Guangzhou, Guangdong, where he learned under the tutelage of several kung fu masters. As Bolo Yeung got older, he became interested in bodybuilding, and he eventually earned the Mr. Hong Kong bodybuilding title. Bolo held this title for a decade, earning him the nickname “Chinese Hercules.”
Bolo Yeung Film Career
Following his competitive bodybuilding career, Bolo Yeung tried his hand at acting, eventually earning roles in martial arts films. Due to his muscular physique, Bolo Yeung was often chosen to play a villain, beginning his acting career in films like the Heroic Ones, the Deadly Duo, and Angry Guest.
Bolo Enter the Dragon
Bolo met the legendary Bruce Lee when the two martial artists starred in a Winston cigarette commercial. The two quickly struck up a friendship. Bolo Yeung’s friendship with Bruce Lee eventually earned him the role of Bolo in Enter the Dragon.
Bolo Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee and Bolo Yeung took advantage of their time on set during the filing of Enter the Dragon to refine their techniques. According to Bolo, “During the filming of Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee 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 would comment years later on their friendship, saying, “There will never be another Bruce Lee, and I am privileged to have had the honor of calling him friend.”
Bolo on Bruce Lee’s Fight on the Set of Enter the Dragon
During the filming of Enter the Dragon, an extra challenged Bruce Lee to a real fight. Bolo, who witnessed the incident, had the following to say about the incident:
“On the set of Enter The Dragon, a Hong Kong contract extra challenged Bruce Lee. This extra wanted to test out Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do and see if it was any good. Bruce accepted the challenge. They began to fight and hit each other a bit. Then Bruce Lee kicked him up high. Bruce’s speed was too much for the extra. After he kicked the extra, the fight was stopped. His speed was just incredible.”
Chong Li Bloodsport
Following Yeung’s role in Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee, he appeared in countless other martial arts movies throughout the 1970s and 1980s. However, he is best known for his work with Jean-Claude Van Damme. In 1988, Bolo played the role of Chong Li in Bloodsport. Shot on a relatively low budget of $1.5 million, Bloodsport became a huge hit in the United States.
In the film, a young Frank Dux (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) and a group of his friends break into ninjutsu expert Senzo Tanaka’s home (played by Roy Chiao) to steal a katana. However, Frank Dux is caught by Tanaka when breaking back into his home to return the weapon. Impressed by Frank Dux’s integrity, Senzo decides to train him alongside his son, Shingo (played by Sean Ward). Following Shingo’s death, Senzo Tanaka trains Frank Dux in the ways of ninjutsu .
Years later, Frank Dux is invited to participate in the Kumite, an illegal martial arts tournament in Hong Kong. After arriving in Hong Kong, Dux becomes friends with an American fighter named Ray Jackson (played by Donald Gibb) and their guide Victor Lin (played by Ken Siu). On the first day of the Kumite tournament, Frank Dux finds himself in the crosshairs of Yeung’s character, Chong Li, after Dux breaks Chong Li’s record for the fastest knockout in Kumite history.
Ultimately, Dux defeats Chong Li to become the Kumite champion. Of all the roles Bolo has played in his legendary career, Chong Li (Bloodsport) is his most iconic.
Van Damme and Yeung formed a strong friendship during the filming of Bloodsport, and this led to Yeung’s role opposite Van Damme in 1991’s Double Impact.
Bolo Yeung Later Career
Following Bolo’s work in Enter the Dragon, Bloodsport, and Double Impact, he continued to appear in successful martial arts and actions films like Tiger Claws, TC 2000 and Tiger Claws II. However, by the late 1990s, Bolo’s film activity significantly declined.
In 2007, after nearly a decade of inactivity, Bolo made a rare appearance in the film Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter. And although Bolo didn’t appear in another film until 2017, his legacy continues to impact the martial arts world. For example, in the 2019 Cinemax series Warrior, actor Rich Ting portrays a Hong enforcer named “Bolo,” which is clearly a tribute homage to Bolo Yueng’s role in Enter the Dragon. Warrior, which was developed from Bruce Lee’s initial writings for the series, features the fictional Bolo as a rival to Ah Sahm, who is a character based on Bruce Lee.
Bolo Yeung Now
Despite the fact that he is in his 70s, Bolo Yeung now still looks great, and he still regularly trains at his local gym. Bolo Yeung now lives in California, and martial Arts and bodybuilding clearly remain an integral part of his life.