Born in Hong Kong, Ronny Yan-Tai Yu dreamt of making films since he was a child. At only 9 months of age, Yu contracted polio, which resulted in a long recovery that prevented him from developing an active childhood and he had to spend much time in isolation. To cope with the loneliness, Yu created fantasy worlds of his own, using furniture as props. As he grew older, his world of escape became the cinema, where he could immerse in grander, more exciting adventures. It was then that his desire to be a director began to grow.
A pivotal moment came soon after Yu graduated from Ohio University. His friend Philip Chan persuaded Yu to direct The Servant, a screenplay that he wrote and was based on his experiences as a Superintendent in the Anti-Triad Squad of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force. Yu seized the opportunity and learnt the craft as filming proceeded. It became the number one summer hit, and his future in film was set.
Throughout the 1980s Yu directed and produced many box office successes in Hong Kong. In 1993, the romantic swordplay epic The Bride with White Hair established his signature style of kinetically-paced storytelling through sumptuous imagery. Bride was a huge summer hit in Hong Kong and also became an art house theater favorite in the U.S. and Europe, leading to much international critical acclaim. It won the Grand Prize at the Fantastica Film Festival in Belgium.
In 1995 came the equally ravishing The Phantom Lover, a love story inspired by the original novel of The Phantom of the Opera, and the Chinese movie Song at Midnight from the 1930s.
Following these two stunning films, Yu launched his Hollywood career. His flair for visually rich narration appealed immediately to the Western audiences. He revived three horror film franchises—Bride of Chucky (of the Child's Play franchise), which he infused with dark humor; and Freddy VS Jason (of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises, respectively), where its box office total was more than the two franchises' combined earnings.
Never one who confines himself to a genre, Yu directed Formula 51, an action comedy filmed in Liverpool, England, starring Samuel L. Jackson; Robert Carlyle; and Meat Loaf. Yu then made Fearless, based on the true story of the martial arts master Huo Yuanjia, starring Jet Li, which achieved worldwide box office success.
In 2008, Yu was among the acclaimed horror film directors to participate in NBC's horror anthology Fear Itself. He directed The Family Man, which was highlighted as the best segment in the series in Hollywood Reporter's review.
Yu has taken on the writer, producer and director role for Saving General Yang, a historical war epic based on the true legends of the heroic Yang family. It will be released worldwide in 2013.
“It’s time for me to give and not to take. And I hope to give more, to make films which will make people think and feel about things. This is especially the case as I’m Chinese and I feel there’s a lot of our values which are valuable, and I hope my film(s) could inspire them to reflect on life as well as be entertaining.”Ronny Yu, Hollywood Reporter interview