Last week, news of the death of 55-year-old prisoner Yip Kai-foon shook the city. But just who was this AK47-wielding gangster who inspired the 2016 hit film, “Trivisa“? Here’s his bio, in a nutshell.
Guangdong native Yip illegally entered Hong Kong in the 1980s, headed straight towards a career of armed theft that specialized in jewelry stores. He led a group of men in his first-ever Hong Kong heist at the tender age of 23. In two 1984 robberies, Yip and his men reportedly obtained over $2 million worth of goods, earning him the nickname “king of robbers.” He was arrested in the same year in a sting operation and sentenced to six years in prison — but his story doesn’t end there.
In 1989, during a medical check-up, Yip successfully escaped from Queen Mary Hospital. Two years later he was back at it, robbing five jewelry stores with four men using AK-47s — an act so brazen that members of the public told local media that they assumed they were experiecing a film set.
Yip led two more armed robberies throughout the early 90s, obtaining some $20 million worth of jewelry before eventually being caught at the Kennedy Town waterfront, where he was caught smuggling guns and explosives. A shootout with the police ensued, and Yip was shot — he became paralyzed from the waist down. He was sentenced to 36 years in prison in 1999.
In 2017, after years of battling multiple illnesses, Yip died at the age of 55 — in the same hospital where he broke away. He is survived by a daughter reportedly in her 20s.