Wah Yuen was born on September 2, 1950 in Hong Kong, China as Kai Chi Yung. He has been acknowledge to be one of the most talented acrobats and martial artists on the Hong Kong stunt scene. He is known for his work on Kung Fu Hustle (2004), The Iceman Cometh (1989) and The Way of the Dragon (1972).
Wah Yuen, along with Ching-Ying Lam and Wei Tung, is one of the few Hong Kong stuntmen to have been introduced to Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee himself. Wah Yuen is also trained in Wu Shu, Hung Gar, Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do.
Wah Yuen was a student of the Peking Opera School under master Sifu Jim-Yuen Yu and a member of the Seven Little Fortunes at the same time as Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Biao Yuen. Jackie Chan in his autobiography I am Jackie Chan, says that Wa Yuen is an accomplished martial artist who possessed a skill to mimic and emulate any martial arts technique he was presented with. Also in his autobiography Chan shares about how he and his fellow Peking Opera students were forced to do hand stands for hours at a time. One day while they were doing hand stands the master yelled “Stop!” and all the boys dropped to the ground except Wah Yuen. The teacher and students went over to see why he refused to stop and discovered that Wah Yuen had fallen asleep in perfect hand stand position.
Wah Yuen began his film career using his ability to copy Bruce Lee’s martial arts style perfectly and because he and Lee had a similar body types. This allowed Wah Yuen to became the body double for Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury (1972). In another Bruce Lee movie, Enter the Dragon (1973), Wah Yuen was killed three times – each time he was portraying a different character.
As a young stunt performer, Wah Yuen was seriously injured on the set of the Shaw Brothers production of the martial arts period piece, Human Lanterns (1982). He was doubling for lead actor Tony Liu wearing a white costume. The stunt was designed to have Yuen, harnessed on a wire, vertically elevated through a hatch in the roof to meet an authentic flying bamboo lance. The stunt was mistimed and the lance was let loose aimed right between Yuen’s eyes. Yuen’s quick-reflexs allowed him to spin and turn away protective so his back was facing the spear so it impaled him through his right shoulder blade, exiting from under his arm. Wah Yuen was taken to the hospital with the bamboo pole still in his body and his costume stained with real blood, doubling for theatrical blood.