Born as Dong Chuan-yuan in Tainan, Taiwan; Chuan is also known as Kang Chia. His mother is Dutch, and his younger brother Kang Hua was a boxer and later joined showbiz. The two brothers achieved fame early in their careers by starring in Taiwanese-speaking films, then they moved to Hong Kong to work for Shaw Brothers. Chuan Yuan's Shaw debut was Wu Chia-hsiang's "Dark Semester", where he was lauded for portraying a street punk.
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