His real name may be Sin Kim-hei, but millions of moviegoers around the world know him as Gordon Liu Chia-hui or simply as "The Master Killer" or "Sante", the hero of one of the definitive martial arts movies of all time, The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin (1977).
Although he studied the Hung Gar style of martial arts alongside his adopted brothers, Liu Chia-liang and Liu Chia-yung, Gordon's family had very different plans for his future with a planned career in business. Gordon impressed Liu's family with his skill and attitude so much that he adopted the new name of Liu Chia-hui. Gordon’s entrance into the movie industry came through family loyalty, when Liu Chia-liang called upon Gordon for his help on a number of projects that were being shot in Taiwan, Gordon answered and would spend the next few years learning the ways of cinematic martial arts as a stuntman and supporting actor.
Upon their return to Hong Kong, Liu Chia-liang announced he would begin production on a new movie focusing on the real life Chinese martial arts hero Wong Fei-hung (played in movies by such greats as Kwan Tak-hing, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li). The star of this film would be no one other than Gordon Liu, the film was the classic Challenge Of The Masters (1976) which co-starred Chen Kuan-tai. Gordon followed this role with several other projects before making the film that really made his name and reputation worldwide. Liu Chia-liang had wanted to make a movie focusing on the monks of the Shaolin Temple, while his producers were worried that if the film was about real monks there would be no love interest, and thus no audience interest. Liu's response was to make a film that focused on the love of the spirit, of the truth, of honour and above all martial arts. The film was of course The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin (1977), released in America and several other territories as, The Master Killer, providing audiences with the definitive image of Gordon Liu as a monk known as "Sante, the Master Killer". The film was written by the prolific writer Ni Kuang and was a breakout success at the box office both in Hong Kong and around the world.
Its success pushed Gordon Liu into superstar status, with Gordonheadlining in a number of classic martial arts movies such as Heroes Of The East (1978), perhaps best described as Kramer vs Kramer with Kung Fu by one critic, the wonderfully named Dirty Ho (1979), the independent production Fists & Guts (1980) which saw Liu showing his lighter side, as well as two official sequels, Disciples Of The 36th Chamber (1984) which saw Sante teaming with another legendary Chinese hero Fong Sai-yuk and the, Return To The 36th Chamber (1980), both directed by Liu Chia-liang. Gordon continued to work on a variety of classic productions at Shaw Brothers including such classics as My Young Auntie (1981), The Lady Is The Boss (1983), and the dark epic The Eight Diagram Pole Fighters (1983).
After Shaw Brothers ceased movie production in the mid 80's, Liu continued to work in a number of big projects including Tiger On The Beat (1988) with Chow Yun-fat, Peacock King (1989) with Yuen Biao, and The Fortune Code (1990) with Sammo Hung. The resurgence of the martial arts movie genre in the 1990's saw Liu showing his strengths opposite Jet Li in Wong Jing's Last Hero In China (1993) before he and fellow Shaw Brothers alumni Koop Chua stole the limelight from Chow Yun-fat in the modern day Shaolin adventure Treasure Hunt (1994). Gordon also proved his versatility as an actor in a variety of television serials.
In 2002, Liu was cast by director Quentin Tarantino to play a key role in his film Kill Bill and Kill Bill2. In these action thrillers, he plays two completely different characters, a Taoist master and a Japanese gangster.
Gordon continues to work actively to this day.
(Films available in Celestial’s Shaw Brothers Film Library with year of production/ theatrical release)
Shaolin Martial Arts (1974)
Five Shaolin Masters (1974)
Marco Polo (1975)
Challenge Of The Masters (1976)
Executioners From Shaolin (1976)
The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin (1978)
Shaolin Mantis (1978)
Heroes Of The East (1978)
The Shadow Boxing (1979)
Dirty Ho (1979)
Clan Of The White Lotus (1979)
Return To The 36th Chamber (1980)
My Young Auntie (1981)
Martial Club (1981)
Treasure Hunters (1981)
Legendary Weapons Of China (1982)
The 82 Tenants (1982)
Godfather Of Canton (1982)
The Lady Is The Boss (1983)
Tales Of A Eunuch (1983)
The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1983)
Crazy Shaolin Disciples (1984)
Disciples Of The 36th Chamber (1984)
The Young Vagabond (1985)