Profile: Vincent Lyn

Posted in Profiles by - November 13, 2023
Profile: Vincent Lyn

Date of birth: 6 June, 1959 (British Royal Air Force Base, Aden, Yemen)

Full name: Vincent Raymond Percival Lyn

Chinese name: Yong Sheng (‘forever winning’)

Occupation: Musician, humanitarian, philanthropist, actor, martial arts instructor.

Style: Ling Gar Kung Fu (family style), Tai Chi, kickboxing.

Biography: Vincent Lyn is an accomplished martial artist, actor, author, pianist, and humanitarian. He was born in Aden, Yemen, to a Chinese father and a British mother. His mother was a classical pianist, and his father was an aircraft engineer stationed in Yemen with the British Royal Air Force. Because of his father’s profession, Vincent’s family relocated a lot, and by the age of two, Vincent had lived in Ethiopia, Khartoum (Sudan), Algeria and the Netherlands, before settling in England.

He started studying martial arts from the age of eight, learning Tai Chi from his uncle and later mastering his family’s style, Ling Gar Kung Fu. Ling Gar dates from the mid-1300s, and Vincent is a 22nd generation practitioner of the style. As a child, Vincent studied poetry, prose and elocution at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in England. He also started studying piano from the age 11. After completing his high-school education in the UK, Vincent moved to the USA at the age of 16, where he continued his studies, graduating from the prestigious Boston Conservatory of Music majoring in piano performance and composition. After graduating, he studied acting in New York, and continued to train in the martial arts.

He started competing in kickboxing tournaments with the PKA and the WKA from 1982, training with the likes of Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. In 1988, he made the decision to stop competing in the martial arts, and at the behest of a friend who wanted to visit Hong Kong, he eventually made the decision to try and combine his love of performing arts and martial arts by trying to make it in the wildly popular action film industry.

During his initial stay in Hong Kong, he auditioned for Yuen Woo-ping and the producer Fish Fong Lee-kwan at D&B Films, demonstrating his martial arts skills. Upon returning to the USA, Fish Fong called to say he had landed the part as a villain in Tiger Cage, an action movie starring Donnie Yen. The film was a big success, and Vincent would eventually spend the next few years working in Hong Kong, appearing in more than 25 movies in mostly villain roles. During his time in Hong Kong, he landed an agent who found him work with the Elite modelling agency. He worked on TV commercials and brand campaigns with the likes of Levi’s, Valentino, Gucci, Puma, Adidas, and Yves Saint Laurent. He also found film work.

He was meant to work with Frankie Chan on his 1988 film, Burning Ambition, but due to a scheduling conflict he had to pull out. He did instead get to work with Frankie Chan on his next film with Yukari Oshima, Outlaw Brothers (1990), alongside fellow ‘gweilos’ Jeff Falcon and Mark Houghton. He also did battle with Cynthia Rothrock in The Blonde Fury (1989), and Cynthia Khan in In the Line of Duty 5: Middle Man (1990). Given the fast-paced nature of Hong Kong action filmmaking, Vincent would often be involved in several projects at the same time. He remembers simultaneously working on Point of No Return (1990), starring Jacky Cheung and Joey Wong; Robotrix (1991), starring Amy Yip; and Fury in Red (1991), starring Conan Lee and Robin Shou.

In 1991, he donned a facial scar to play one of the main gold-grabbing villains alongside Ken Lo in Armour of God II: Operation Condor, directed by and starring Jackie Chan. The globe-trotting adventure film was shot in Spain, Morocco, and the Philippines, and once the film was complete, Jackie told Vincent that he was one of the best fighters he had ever worked with. It proved to be his last film role in Hong Kong. He moved back to the USA believing he had accomplished everything he wanted to in the Hong Kong action film world.

Since stepping away from the film industry, Vincent Lyn has continued to pursue his two main passions: martial arts and music. He has remained a keen practitioner and teacher of kung fu – he is a 10th degree Black Sash Grandmaster and has taught martial arts workshops around the world, opening his own school after returning from Hong Kong in the mid-1990s. He has helped to promote his family’s style, Ling Gar Kung Fu, through many instructional videos, seminars, and a book entitled ‘Kung Fu in the Real World: The Ling Gar Legacy’, published in 2011 with a foreword by Yuen Woo-ping.

In 2007, he was invited as a special guest to the first Martial Arts Olympics East-West Open in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the opening ceremony, he demonstrated his martial art skills in front of 20,000 spectators and also performed a piano solo. In 2016, he taught 700 people Tai Chi and Ling Gar Kung Fu in a soccer stadium in Portugal. He has been inducted into many Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and in 2019, he received a Legend Award for Who’s Who in the Martial Arts.

Vincent also enjoys a very successful music career, which includes writing Cantopop songs for PolyGram Records, two of which became top ten hits, and in 2011, he gave his debut performance to a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall in connection with the release of his album, Heaven Bound, which was nominated for two Grammy awards including Best Improvisation Jazz Solo and Best Instrumental Jazz Album. The album was voted in the Top Ten Album of the Year for Unsigned Artists and Top 40 Jazz Album of the Year.

His second album, Wing Sing, received four nominations in the Grammy Ballot. His album, Vincent Lyn Live in New York City (from Carnegie Hall), was critically acclaimed and also received four Grammy nominations. In 2015, Vincent teamed up with Grammy Award-winning flutist Wouter Kellerman and other musicians to perform music from around the world at Carnegie Hall. His other albums include 2023’s Elysian Eclipse.

Vincent Lyn is also the Director of Creative Development for African Views, an NGO working with the UN who work to identify and bridge cultural gaps, facilitating improvement of social and economic ties and promoting global partnerships for the advancement in the humanities. It was while working as a bodyguard for a VIP in Ghana when he first saw the realities of human trafficking, after visiting a shelter where children had been rescued from slavery. As a consequence, he started a nonprofit organisation, We Can Save Children, whose mission is to rescue and recover children in Africa and the Middle East.

In 2021, he wrote the book, ‘Childhood Lost: A Humanitarian’s Heartbreaking Search for Solutions in a Dangerous World’. Through his humanitarian work, Vincent has helped to provide aid to orphaned children in places like Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda; helped to build a sports complex in Lebanon; and helped refugees fleeing from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He lives in Connecticut.

Speech! “We had no idea, we were so young. We didn’t realise the influence those films would have on the generations now and probably after. In many ways, we are cemented in what is called ‘the golden age of Hong Kong cinema’… it’s quite something, and quite special.” In conversation with Kung Fu Movie Guide.

Click here to listen to KFMG Podcast S07 Episode 93 with Vincent Lyn.

Filmography (as actor): 1988 Tiger Cage; 1989 Live Hard; The Blonde Fury; 1990 Point Of No Return; Outlaw Brothers; In The Line Of Duty 5: Middle Man; Big Brother; 1991 Robotrix; Retreat Of The Godfather; The King Of The Kickboxers; Fury In Red; Armour Of God II: Operation Condor; 1993 Sex For Sale; 2001 Manhattan Midnight (action dir.).

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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