Chow Yun Fat

Chow Yun Fat was born in Lama Island in 1955. He left the island at 16 for the Kowloon Peninsula, where he drifted from from job to job - bell boy, waiter and many others before landing work as an extra at Hong Kong´s largest TV company, TVB. Then he enrolled in the actor´s training program, which was to lead him to appear in over 300 hours of television. The most successful of these shows was a series called Shanghai Town which was to make him a household name throughout South East Asia.

In 1977 and 1978 Chow starred in two unexceptional "gigolo style" movies for Golddig Films whilst remaining a major TV star. After churning out endless hours of comedy, drama and swordplay appearances for television, Chow was approached by critically acclaimed director Ann Hui to star in The story of Wu-Viet. It was not only a great critical success but also remains one of Chow´s own favorite pictures.

Despite featuring roles in numerous movies which followed, the mass acclaim which he had gained from his television appear- ances continued to elude him in the cinema until 1986, when Tsui Hark and emerging director John Woo enlisted Chow for A Better Tomorrow. It was intended to relaunch the career of Chow brother´s veteran actor Ti Lung as well as to introduce pop idol Leslie Cheung to Hong Kong´s cinema audiences.

Although not first choice for the role of Mark, Tsui and Woo insisted,and Chow Yun Fat took the lead in what was to become one of the biggest box office hit in Hong Kong film history. His future, as well as that of John Woo, was established. The image that Chow projected - long black coat, Ray Bans, matchstick caught in a selfdeprecating killer´s grin - was cool, charismatic and captured the audience´s imagination. This was also the birth of the classic Chow two-gun-toting outlaw stance. Despite very healthy box office receipts, the sequel did not please John Woo, and the subsequent Proquel was directed by Tsui Hark. Chow had, by this time, been exploiting his gangster persona for other directors. He received Taiwan´s Golden Horse Award for best actor in Ringo Lam´s seminal City On Fire (1987).

He became one of the East´s hardest working actors, starring in many excellent films including Hong Kong 1941 (1987); Love Unto Waste for director Stanley Kwan; Triads: the Inside Story for Taylor Wong (1988) and his own Favorite, Autumn Tale for Cheung Wun Ting. In all these films Chow´s extra ordinary dramatic range was made abundantly clear. In 1989, reunited with John Woo , Chow´s international reputation was finally secured with The Killer, an astonishing parable of violence, betrayal, vengeance and redemption which relied heavily upon the chemistry between director and leading man. Following this he took the role of idiot savant in Wong Jing´s God of Gamblers, which spawned a host of imitations. He then returned to work with Woo on Once A Thief, a dynamic action comedy, before the pair spent almost a year between 1991 and 1992 making the high-calibre shootout flick Hard Boiled, which has brought the director long overdue international recognition.

While Woo relocated to Hollywood to make Hard Target, Chow rejoined Ringo Lam to make Full Contact, a grittily violent film which showed him in leaner, meaner form. The colourdrenched shootouts and explicit yet stylized violence once again rejuvenated the stagnant gangster genre. Since then Chow has starred in Treasure Hunt (1994), an odd hybrid of comedy and crime story which does see him briefly exhibit his cool, charismatic style on the right side of the law for once; and he after that completed the official sequel to God of Gamblers, directed by Wong Jing, and in 1995 he starred in the Woo produced gangster movie Peace Hotel. He is know making his American debut with The Replacement Killers (1997).

Ti Lung

 

Ti Lung was born in Hong Kong in the early fifties. In his teens he started to practice diligently the Wing Chun style of kung fu. At 18 while working as an apprentice taylor in Kowloon he auditioned at the Shaw Brothers Studio, where he was trained in acting, stunts and horsemanship. Hundreds of young hopefuls were groomed in this fashion but the debonair Ti Lung stood out amongst his fellow trainees and his fine looks caught the eye of director Chang Cheh.

He first appeared alongside Jimmy Wang Wu in Return of the One-Armed Swordsman (1968), before landing starring roles in King Eagle and Have Sword Will Travel (1971). He received international acclaim for his performances in Empress- Dowage , Blood Brothers (1973), Magic Blade and Avenging Eagle (1979).

Ti Lung worked exclusively for the Shaw Brothers until 1980, when he went to Taiwan to make eight pictures before returning in 1981.When the Shaw Brothers stopped production in 1984 he found himself no longer in demand,until his friend John Woo, who had worked as an assistant to Blood Brothers and Four Riders (1974), invited him to take a key role in A Better Tomorrow. The film was a huge hit and Ti Lung was once again box office gold.

A string of hits followed, including People´s Hero (1990), A Killer´s Blues (1991) and First Shot (1996), he has also reprised his winning partnership with Chow Yun Fat in City War (1989), Tiger on the Beat (1989), and A Better Tomorrow II (1987).

Leslie Cheung

Leslie Cheung completed his education in England before returning to Hong Kong and winning the second prize in the Asian singing contest while still in his teens. Joining Rediffusion Television, he established his career in a television drama series, before his debut film role in Patrick Tam´s Nomad.

In 1981 he released his album The Wind Blows On, the title song of which became an instant hit. He has since become a superstar, taking only selected starring roles such as his excellent supporting role as Kit in A Better Tomorrow parts I and II, the good-natured scholar in A Chinese Ghost Story part I and II (1987, 1990) and the romantic playboy in Rouge (1987), while his records have been continual hits.

Having completed work on Wong Kar-Wai´s Days of Being Wild (1989), Leslie announced his plans to give up film work and pursue his studies in Canada. However, his international fame was assured with the highly successful theatrical release of Chen Kaige´s Farewell My Concubine, which played to rave reviews in the UK, and since then he has starred in the critically acclaimed The bride With White Hair (1993) and Wong Kar-Wai´s much talked about Ashes in Time (1994).

 

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