Robin Shou Wan-bo/Wai Lung
Born 7/17/60 in Hong Kong
Though perhaps best known for a few "B" American
action films during the 90s, this action star began his career first in
some HK productions.
After this he made some Hollywood films - Mortal
Kombat in 1995, Beverly Hills Ninja and Mortal Kombat: The Annihilation
He had small parts in The Big Heat, City War,
In the Line of Duty III, Casino Raiders and Burning Ambition and almost
always as a bad guy. But he had larger roles in Fatal Termination, Tiger
Cage 2, Black Cat II and a few other low budget "girls with guns" films
- Hard to Kill, Angel of Kickboxer and Fatal Chase.
Ronald Wong Pan
His rather woeful expression and slight, weak
looking build was put to good use in a bunch of films in the late 80s and
early 90s – often as a cowardly snivelling type - in Wong Kar Wai's first
film As Tears Go By he was Jacky Cheung's follower, in Ghost Lanterns he
was Tony Leung's reluctant but eventually heroic follower, Boys Are Easy
(once more as a triad follower of Jacky Cheung, Chicken), People's Hero
(one of the bank robbers), Crocodile Hunter, God of Gamblers I and II,
Owl vs. Dumbo, Thou Shalt Not Swear (the car mechanic), The Ultimate Vampire
and Young and Dangerous 4.
Rosamund Kwan Chi-lam
With eyes as large as flying saucers and as
soft as a warm gentle sea breeze, Rosamund has been gracing the Hong Kong
silver screen with her beauty and class for nearly twenty years. In the
more than fifty films that she has appeared in, she has played many different
kinds of roles, but she nearly always brings her innate intelligence to
bear on her characters. Even at the beginning of her career, Rosamund always
seemed grown up in her roles – independent, spirited and always an even
match for her male co-stars. She has almost always played the good girl
as well – which is perhaps a shame because in one of her rare portrayals
at being the bad girl – The Adventurers – she is absolutely deliciously
She was born into an acting family – her father,
Kwan Shan, was a legendary leading man in the 1960’s and her mother, Cheung
Bing-sai was an actress as well. She first got into television, but after
getting married to a businessman she left the entertainment industry and
entered into the world of fashion. This and her marriage did not last long
and so the self-confessed introvert went back to acting. She admits readily
that acting was really not for her "the moment I entered the movie business,
I knew I was in the wrong line. It was awful because I’m naturally shy
and I hate crowded places. I’m not very brave and never liked performing.
Even at home, I was a very quiet child. The house was very quiet most of
the time anyway except for the sound from the television!".
Her debut film was in 1982 in the film The
Headhunter. Over the next few years she appeared in only a few films –
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Millionaires Express, Project A II and Armour
of God – but beginning in 1988 until the mid-90s she worked steadily and
generally did five or so films a year. Many of these early roles would
be termed as "flower vase" roles - she says regarding this "It wasn’t smooth-sailing
at first. Back then (in the 1980s), male-driven films dominated the industry
and the female roles were usually the stand-there-and-get-beaten type.
You can’t really control the type of roles that are offered to you. There
were not many strong women roles before and there are still not many now.
At the same time, it’s not realistic to wait until such a role arrives
on your doorstep. I mean, you still have to make a living, right?".
Most of her films were dramas (though it should
be pointed out that in Hong Kong, this has a wider range than one might
think, e.g., Rosamund has appeared in a rape revenge drama -- Vengeance
is Mine -- as well more conventional romances and other kinds of works).
However, much of her fame (at least for Western audiences) stems from her
appearances in action films – though she was certainly no action star.
As the modern westernized Sap Saam Ee (which literally translates from
Cantonese into thirteenth aunt, and gets turned in some english subtitles
into Auntie Yee) in the Once Upon a Time in China series, she won not only
Jet Li’s heart but much of the audience’s as well. She was also in the
classic Swordsman II as Ying (a role which had first been played -- in
Swordsman I -- by Cheung Man) and appeared once more with Jet Li in Dr.
Wai in the Scripture with no Words.
It is really in the dramas and comedies (and often
with Andy Lau, causing rumors of their being real life romantic links between
them) though that one can indulge in those big brown eyes. At times she
can be knock-kneed sexy and at other times a pouty faced sweetie. In either
mode, she can use those eyes as seductive weapons to usually get her way.
Some of these films are Profiles of Pleasure (a high class prostitute),
Casino Raiders (Andy Lau’s girlfriend), Brief Encounter in Shinjuku, With
or Without You, Pretty Ghost (in full pout mode), Gigolo and Whore II (a
lesbian turned straight by Simon Yam’s manly charm), All’s Well Ends Well
Too (someone Leslie Cheung’s character nicknames ‘Mr. Big Eyes’), Love
Among the Triad (check out her oyster eating scene), The Great Conqueror’s
Concubine (as the very sweet Lady Yu) and A Touch of Evil (as a “good-time
These days Rosamund has been doing very little
film work – her last appearance was in 1997 in Once Upon a Time in China
and America. However, there are rumblings of her making a come-back to
the silver screen in a Wong Jing film tentatively entitled Wesley, Blue
Blood Person (which will co-star Andy Lau). Most recently, her name has
been linked with a Sony Pictures Classic funded project which will be helmed
by Mainland Chinese director Feng Xiaogang entitled Big Shot's Funeral
(almost unbelievably, the English-speaking actress -- who was educated
at a prestigious Hong Kong convent school -- is slated to play the adopted
daughter of Donald Sutherland).
Roy Cheung Yiu-yeung
For most of his career Roy has been saddled
as the young nasty type who would as soon cut your heart out as speak to
you. Discovered by Ringo Lam, he was cast as a bad guy in a few of his
films in the late 1980’s such as City on Fire, School on Fire, Prison on
Fire and Wild Search. Though more often than not he was cast as a young
ambitious triad, he was just as nasty in his cop roles. With his wide mouth
set in grim repose and his baleful eyes, his bad guys could crawl under
the skin of the viewer and sit there like an open sore.
Some of these are: They Came to Rob Hong Kong,
Fight Back to School, Wicked City, Ghost Lantern and several of the Young
and Dangerous films (n.b. he has played three different characters in this
series of 6 films and 2 official spin-offs!). His bad guys were some of
the nastiest put to screen and this was heightened by rumors that in real
life he had ties to the triads as well. At the same time though, there
is definitely something very charismatic and masculine about him and on
occasion he had an opportunity to play a more shaded character – still
generally a triad but one with a sense of honor.
In 1992 he co-starred with Maggie Cheung in Rose
as a triad tamed by his love for a woman and in To Live and Die in Tsimsatsui
(1994), Mongkok Story (1996) and Beast Cops (1998) he was terrific as the
noble triad leader. But it was really as one of the bodyguards in 1999’s
The Mission that pushed him into the ranks of the good guys. In this film
he was teamed up with Anthony Wong and Francis Ng and more than held his
own. Since then he has been in a slew of films - including the quirky but
feel-good Play with Strangers - with his best role perhaps in Jiang Hu:
The Triad Zone in which he once again plays a bodyguard – but one with
an interesting slant. Of course he may also be remembered for one recent
film that he wasn’t seen in. This was Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love
in which he plays Maggie Cheung’s husband, but the audience only hears
his voice as Wong decided during the editing process to never show the
faces of the cheating spouses.
Roy Chiao Hung/Hsiung
Born in 1927in Shanghai – Died in 1999 in Seattle
After graduating from the university in the
late forties, he joined the United States Army and worked as an interpreter
with the rank of a lieutenant (later captain). In 1950, he moved to Hong
Kong before he was sent to the Korean battlefield to serve as a translator
in the American headquarters. He did his best to assist in negotiating
peace between the USA and China but for doing this he was verbally attacked
by the advocates of Senator McCarthy. He then resigned from the army and
retired to private life.
He was a good friend of Pai Kuang,the biggest
star of pre-1949 Shanghai cinema, and she introduced him to the film industry
in HK. His film debut was The Fresh Peony (1956) and he was soon recognized
as one of the top leading men of the Mandarin cinema in HK (which was more
powerful than Cantonese cinema at the time). His strong masculine portrayals
soon earned him the film nickname of the “Lion” of Mandarin film. Some
of his well-known films from this period in his career are Air Hostess,
June Bride and Sister Long Legs
His stardom continued into the 70s with roles
in classics such as King Hu’s ATouch Of Zen (1970), The Fate of Lee Khan
(1973) and The Valiant Ones (1975). He was also in one of the more important
film precursors to the New Wave with the Arch in 1970. His dignified and
noble bearing gave his characters in these films great weight and authority.
Since the late 70s, he also was in many commercially successful films collaborating
with John Woo, Johnny Mak, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung.
From an acting perspective perhaps, the pinnacle
of his career may have been in the 90s. Both Cageman (1992) and Summer
Snow (1995), in which he was the leading actor, were awarded the Best Picture
of the HK Film Awards and he won a best actor for playing the lonely old
man in the latter film.
Though not born to Christianity, Roy became a
devout one during his life. The reason for this conversion was quite peculiar.
In Korea, he survived a car crash and he later came through a jet crash
without being injured when he was flying a mini-plane. He also suffered
from three heart attacks but he remained strong and healthy. He said 'There
must be a God who takes care of me!' and he became a very devoted Christian.
During the last days of his life, he established a Christian fellowship
among actors, the Artists Home, which helped to deal with different problems
faced by the actors in HK. When he finally died on the 16th of April 1999,
many people in HK wept for him.
Some other films (in generally supporting roles)
that he can be seen in from the later period of his career are The Protector,
Righting Wrongs (the judge), Inspector Chocolate (police supervisor), The
Blonde Fury (the prosecutor), Burning Ambition (the father), A Kid from
Tibet, Age of Miracles (the angel) and All’s Well that Ends Well (the father).
His last film was Sometimes Miracles Do Happen in 1999. He should know.
It seems that he was one of the favorite Asian
supporting actors of the Western filmmakers in the 50s to 80s. He appeared
first in Ferry to Hong Kong (1959), which starred Orson Welles, then in
Five Golden Fingers (1967), with Christopher Lee and Klaus Kinski also
in it, Golden Needles in 1974. Then, in 1984, he even participated in the
production of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and in 1988 co-starred
with Jean Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport!
(Written up by James Chang)
Ruby Lin Xiang-ru
Born 01/27/76 in Taiwan
Most famous of course for being Sanney’s favorite
sweetie for a long period of time and seemingly showing up nearly every
day on his Entertainment site, Ruby has been a favorite idol in Hong Kong
for the past couple of years. I have no clue whether she has even a modicum
of real talent or it is just good marketing, but she has had a singing
and acting career as well as endorsing a number of products. Outside of
television, she has also made a handful of films thus far – Winner Tales
All, The Mirror, China Strike Force and Comic King (2001).
Ruby Wong Cheuk-ling
These days in the world of Hong Kong actresses,
there is almost a visible separation between those like the above Ruby
Lin who come across like a giggly Hello Kitty toy and those like Ruby Wong
who hit you in the face with their realness, maturity and understated yet
distinct sexuality. There is certainly room for both types in HK films,
but these days there seem to be so many more of the former than the latter
– and so discovering a new talent like Ruby Wong feels like a special treat.
Ruby is simply a wonderful actress – able to essay
many different types of characters – and yet give each one a distinct personality,
a sense of living in the real world and having experienced both the good
and bad of life. When she gives us that rare smile though it lights up
her face like a beacon in a storm.
She began as an advertising model, but like so
many of the best actors of recent times found film work with producer/director
Johnnie To (who has also become her agent). Her debut was in a small role
as the bartender in To’s 1995 Loving You, but she didn’t follow up on this
until two years later in To’s Lifeline. In this film she portrays one of
the firefighters and does nearly all of her own stunts that were far from
being a walk in the park. To has cast her in four more of his films – Too
Many Ways to be No. 1 in an outrageous role as the sex starved widow, Expect
the Unexpected (the female cop), Where the Good Man Goes (her best and
biggest performance perhaps as an inn keeper in Macau) and a small role
in Running Out of Time as the Interpol agent.
A couple non-To performances to check Ruby in
are Killing me Tenderly (the flamboyant diva), Tamagotchi (a horror film),
Night Club (the world weary Mamasan who was a teenage mother), the curious
Play with Strangers (as a woman who loves teletubbies, bortscht and James
Yuen movies -- perhaps James Yuen should think of casting her in one of
his yuppie romances?!) and as Leslie Cheung’s fiercely loyal girlfriend
in Double Tap.
Ruby also has a girlfriend role in Hit Team
(2001), and another one lined up (in which she plays Eric Tsang’s woman).
Let’s hope that (other) Hong Kong movie directors will realize that she
-- who may have many more overseas fans than admirers in Hong Kong -- deserves
more than just getting the girfriend roles.