WONG TAO
WONG TAO
TRADITIONAL CHINESE 王道
KOREAN 왕도
AKA Don Wang Don Wong
Wang Do Wang Tao
Wong Diy Don Wong Tao
Wong Tou


YEAR OF BIRTH
1945

BIOGRAPHY
THE TAO OF DON WONG

BY DESCENDANT

While Hong Kong has mostly been associated with being the nucleus of the kung fu genre, a whole separate martial world was manifested and made in Taiwan. This was an industry unto itself which boasted an army of tremendous talent. It is from this delightful forest that along came a tiger. Knotting over fifty film's under his black belt we take it to the bridge of snake knight success with Don Wong Tao.

FLIGHT BACK TO SCHOOL
When Wong Tao was fifteen year's old he went with his father to Italy. It was here that Tao's martial art journey began with training in tae kwon do. Achieving dan grading and successfully taking part in tournament's. It wasn't long before Tao was given a choice of either going to Germany or America for further education. Much preferring the idea of life in the states this flight back to school led to a placement at Texas A & M university, 1970. He stayed there for 3 years before gambling on a career in the movies.

With the kung fu cinema explosion of the early 1970's Golden Harvest were in America scouting for new blood. Tao was invited to New York for a screen test and won a multi-picture deal. His debut movie for Harvest was called Slaughter in San Francisco? While Tao was confident in his real martial art abilities he had a difficult time acting/fighting for the camera. There was absolutely no assistance from the production team. He had to just get out there and quite literally go for it! A combination of a power-packed physique and real blocking techniques earned Tao the nickname of Big-Tank from the unlucky fall-guy's. In some respects these raw elements gave the action in Slaughter a commanding effect that would be hard sought by seasoned stylist's. Harvest never scooped the box-office returns they had anticipated and decided to terminate Tao's contract.

SECRET ARRIVAL
When Wong Tao met Director Ng See Yuen his career and the whole kung fu genre was to receive an awaken punch. Director Yuen told Tao to forget about the Golden deal and join him on a new production in Korea. This was to be a joint venture with a Korean company called The Secret Rivals . This film would also parade the super-kicking expertise of Hwang Jan Lee, John Liu and the Yuen clan stunt team. With a relatively small budget Rivals was wrapped in under a month. After seeing the rushes Tao was quietly excited by the overall feel of the picture, and knew he was part of something that was far more advanced than what was being made at the time, 1975.

As John Liu was singled out as the better kicker he would play the Northern leg-fighter role while Tao was cast as the Southern fist . As Tao's forte was tae kwon do he was coached in the finer qualities of fistwork by eccentric flight choreographer Tommy Lee. Along with Hwang Jan Lee's silver-Fox seasoning a fast and furious flavour was born.

Arriving back in Hong Kong with Rivalsin the can response from theatrical distributors was initially negative. After some time on the laboratory shelf the film was finally released and made great box-office in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. Also, taking into consideration the global late-night cinema scene The Secret Rivals can be hailed as a kung fu film that rampantly rocked the world! Tao's star was now studded with success. Sadly, he didn't return for the action-packed sequel. One things for sure in that Rival's set new standard's with real fighter's and a unique brand of acrobatic aesthetic that will alway's walk like a champion.

NAM VETERAN.
Bombarded by untold offers of work on various films Wong Tao was now in popular demand. Towards the end of 1976 he decided to step under the wing of Director Lee Tso Nam. Their first outing was Hot, Cool, & Vicious an exciting projection of contrasting styles and a certain dark richness that is now a recognized seal of Director Nam's visions. Adding extra weight to the Hot, Cool, mix was Tan Tao Liang and the echoed eccentricity of Tommy Lee. Before the opening credits finish rolling, to a thumping score, you just know you are in for something special. What you get with the interaction's are masterful exchanges laced with a linguistic cherry on the top.

In the following year of 1977 Eagle Claw gripped theatres. This found a special structure with the casting of the superbly sinister Chang Yi as the Versace of villainy. Here we have the perfect battlefield for Wong Tao's martial artillery. The Yi-Tao combat was so good that we would see them excite many a finale. One of my favourite Tao films that was Nam-bread and buttered has got to be Challenge of Death ,1978. Breaking out into borders of the exotic with Tan Tao Liang as the dragon, Wong Tao as the snake and Chang Yi as the spider. What more could you possibly want? Or, for that matter, need? A Nam veteran, in every sense of the shapes, this era definitely represent's the heart of Tao's best work!

TIGER'S TALE
All fired-up with his name up in light's, Wong Tao decided to produce his own film called Along Came a Tiger . While his enthusiasm was undaunted by the task at hand he admit's a certain naivety in regard to what financing your own picture entailed. Even before he started shooting Tiger he went to Hong Kong and presold the film to distributors, so money was not the problem! It was the cast and crew that made this a difficult project to complete. The director and members of the cast were simultaneously making other film's. The final result was good in terms of action and story (albeit demonic), the film also made money on release. With so much grief and lack of support this left a void that Tao would leave behind.

Undaunted by the pitfall's of producing Tao was still in huge demand and had plenty of offers to choose from. This is where his career went into maximum overdrive. It would not be uncommon for Tao to go from set to set, usually in the same costume, making different films sometimes in the same day!

CAREER CRUNCHER
Just what could have possibly happened to take Wong Tao from the realms of our senses? During filming a fight scene, in a film he chooses to forget, he broke the tendon in his left leg. No sooner had Tao returned from hospital than the heartless producer's were on his case to complete the movie. By shooting Tao's remaining footage in close-ups they wrapped and left Tao to fend for himself ! At the same time of this career-crunching experience a whole new style of acrobatic kung fu was staking claim to the scene. All of these elements entwined with some serious soul-searching led Tao toward the safety net of Taiwan television dramas.

The Tao of Don Wong will constantly provide a great escape into a world of martial value. If only one example could be given of Tao's magnificence then check out the shock-absorbing dimension's of Death Duel of Kung Fu, 1978. North and south vs a villain who matches side-winding bootology with meticulous mantis. These condor moments are what its all about.

SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY - ACTOR
1974 Slaughter In San Francisco
...aka "Yellow-Faced Tiger"
...aka "Chuck Norris Vs. The Karate Cop"
c1975 Eight Hundred Heroes
...aka "800 Heroes"
1975 The Secret Rivals
...aka "Silver Fox Rivals"
...aka "Secret Agents"
...aka "Bimilgaeg"
...aka "Zwillingsbrüder Von Bruce Lee"
...aka "Nan Quan Bei Tui"
...aka "Assassin"
c1976 Revenge Of The Kung Fu Mao
...aka "Big Foot Mama"
c1976 Right Overcomes Might
c1976 The Hot, The Cool and the Vicious
c1977 Along Come The Tiger
...aka "Fists Like Lee"
...aka "Along Comes The Tiger"
...aka "Along Comes A Tiger"
...aka "Along Came A Tiger"
...aka "Along Came The Tiger"
c1977 Eagle’s Claw
c1977 Fatal Needles & Fatal Fists
...aka "Kung Fu Hercules"
c1977 The Fight for Shaolin Tamo Mystique
...aka "Fight for Survival"
c1977 Two Assassins Of Darkness
...aka "Kung Fu Killers"
c1977 Duel In The Desert
...aka "Duels In The Desert"
...aka "Proud Horse In the Flying Sand"
...aka "Sturdy Horse In the Sand Flying"
...aka "Proud Horse In Flying Sand"
...aka "The Proud Horses In Flying Sand"
...aka "The Secret of Noma"
...aka "Nomabisa"
...aka "Duelo En El Deserto"
1977 Bandits, Prostitutes & Silver
...aka "The Damned"
...aka "Snake In The Eagle's Shadow 3"
...aka "Ho's, Thungz & Scrillaz"
c1978 Assault Of The Final Rival
...aka "The Chang Gang"
c1978 Challenge Of Death
c1978 Eighteen Swirling Riders
...aka "18 Shaolin Riders"
1978 Iron Swallow
...aka "Flying Fingers of The Unknown"
...aka "Shaolin Iron Eagle"
c1978 Moonlight Sword & Jade Lion
...aka "10 Fingers & Flying Sword"
c1978 Phantom Kung Fu
...aka "These Hands Destroy"
...aka "Kung Fu Phantom"
c1978 Shaolin Devil & Shaolin Angel
...aka "Devil & Angel"
...aka "Tantinum Blade"
...aka "Mask of Death"
c1978 Shaolin Iron Claws
...aka "Hawk's Fist"
c1978 Shaolin Kung Fu Master
c1978 Ten Brothers Of Shaolin
...aka "Warriors of The Sacred Temple"
c1979 Death Duel Of Kung Fu
c1979 Shaolin Invincible Sticks
...aka "Fists of Shaolin"
c1980 Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow 2
c1981 Adventure For Imperial Treasure
...aka "Shaolin Book"
...aka "Disciple Of The Shaolin Master"
...aka "Run Away"
...aka "Adventure For The Imperial Treasure"
...aka "Disciple Of Shaolin Master"
...aka "Disciple Of Shaolin"
...aka "Adventure For Imperial Treasures"
c1981 Battle For The Republic Of China
c1982 Blood Brothers
1982 Diamond Fight
c1982 Warlock of the Battlefield
c1983 Black Rose
...aka "Crisis"
c1983 Wild Panther
c1984 Drunken Tai Chi
...aka "Tai-Chi Master"
c1985 Ninja Thunderbolt
...aka "Nnja & The Thief"
...aka "To Catch A Ninja"
c1987 Promising Young Boy
...aka "Action Taekwondo"
c1993 Angel Of Vengeance
...aka "Angle Of Vengeance"