Once again this year another lore character of Hong Kong's film industry has passed away:
Ni Kuang or sometimes written I Kuan was a shanghainese bookworm and a fanatic of fantasy/wuxia and science fiction literature, later on these feelings of utopian or impossible ideals and other assorted fantastical tastes naturally made him enroll in the communist party (police academy area) but he soon faced the dire reality of being coy while serving as a bookie in a mongolian commie security bureau outpost, in which he was often in charge of signing the written notices to send people either to the camps or to be executed.
At some point he received a notice himself after poaching wood from the outskirts of a farm (owned by the family of a party leader) to warm the office at winter and soon escaped said outpost, back in his town his family refused to shelter him due to fear of being all send to the steppes and, like many cultured enough in gommie china, fled the country while in his particular case he went to Hong Kong after months of journeying in the rural areas and paying up 3 months of salary money to be shipped across the mainland to the island.
Here is where things got relevant, he worked as hard labour for a while but due to his knowledge in several genres along with very disciplined workflow (consequence of being a chicom pencil pusher both to survive and entertain himself) he started penning amateur work for some newspapers and became a solicited freelancer both as a writer and as a quality control not much later, at some point writing a column for 12 newspapers at the same time, and after making friends with some literatefags in the city he was suggested to make his very own novel.
Later on the novel was made and supposedly became an influential hit we don't know if they were good because hongs very rarely translate their literature and after getting a bit more fame he was invited to collaborate with the hegemonic film studio of the city-state, the Shaw Bros., where he became the almost-omnipresent staff script doctor for almost every screenplay that was considered worthy of filming. The hong industry has a particular thing, in which i know has a name in terms of industry practice but i forget about it, where an entity will oversee almost every output made and credit itself entirely even if they haven't touched the product but will also produce and cover up most expenses along with functioning as a supporting role if work gets trickier; such is the case of Ni Kuang and the Shaw Brothers film output, where he is credited at almost 400 scripts in 20 years (191 in the martial arts realm) if someone entered a basic idea or an advanced script he would supposedly come in, format it to industry standard to present it as an official screenplay, maybe fix some plot points here and there and then credit himself while other times maybe he would do the entire thing or some other times he would credit himself to make some freelancer avoid contractual problems with another studio. Most of these ranged in the wuxia/fantasy, urban crime, military drama or the studio's main source of income: Martial Arts flicks.
There was a comment i read time ago which said something around the lines that "if you watched any hong kong movie from 1965 to 1985, there is a solid legitimate 33% chance it was penned at some point by Ni Kuang" and honestly it is not a hyperbole. After ditching the newspaper gig in the late 60's he went on to concentrate his efforts in the studio along with doing some "novels" chinamen call a lot of things novels, we can say chapters, comics, short stories, actual novels, etc and sometimes even if he didn't sign the script his work would be adapted by someone else as he freelanced or doc'd fiction works for other people, so if we believe the numbers there are around 500 products out there with his ideas or foreign ones with their consent as he was drinking buddies with many well-known writers of the time; if some movie's story was way too similar to a famous novel it could be maybe that he either supported said writer with the same plot points or just ripped it off with previous blessings by the man himself. To make things more absurd there's known work that was his but went uncredited to avoid contract problems, such was the case of Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury and The Big Boss, done because Bruce paid good money to disregard "the rules" which was the real reason why he got bumped off
We can even argue the majority of the cliches, tropes or what have you in the martial arts genre was invented or implemented narratively by Kuang, so if someone thinks most martial arts movie play the same and have no variation at all, as if they were written by the same dude, then surprise... it probably was. In reality the guy probably didn't write, in an integral form, more than 100 works but his orders to format the napkin stories and streamline most anything with the same plot points, ideas and even basic dialogue lines makes him a core personality in Hong Kong's film lore and basically the entire martial arts/hand-to-hand combat action genre.
With his death the last of the 4 major writers of the Hong industry rests in peace, in the coming days we'll see if he will receive an outwardly fanciful farewell like he did at some point being the co-protagonist of that Coffin Drinking Tale (along with recently deceased Jimmy Wang) or if he will be somewhat ignored by their media due to his staunch anti-communism position, rumored umbrella sympathizer along with being an allegedly somewhat famous PRC critic via satirical columns done both in the 60's and the late 80's, the main reason of his departure from the island in the mid-90's (along with many other chicom expats like Jet Li) which also effectively ended his script doc and big editorial career.
Coincidentally i saw a movie penned by him yesterday although that's not an oddity lol, RIP nevertheless