Tai Bo/Tai Po
He has one of those faces that you spot in
a lot of films during the 1980s in supporting or cameo roles. There was
the occasional film in which he had a larger role, but more often than
not he just gets a few minutes of screen time. But the fact that many of
these roles were in films from Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung or Yuen Biao
has made him a well-recognized figure. Like Mars and most of the Sammo
and Jackie crew, Tai Bo has probably also served quite extensively in a
stunt-man capacity. Not surprisingly perhaps he attended the Chinese Opera
School run by Fan Fok Fa that others such as Lam Ching Ying, Mars and Chung
Fat attended. Reportedly, he and Jackie are great friends off screen.
Some of these films are: Young Master, Dragon
Lord, Winners and Sinners, Heart of Dragon, Righting Wrongs, Wheres Officer
Tuba, Iceman Cometh, The Dead and the Deadly, Rosa, Naughty Boys, Yes Madam,
My Cousin the Ghost and Sister Cupid. In a very early role he can be spotted
as one of the henchman who attacks Angela Mao in Enter the Dragon.
In the 90’s his work slowed down considerably
but he still appeared in the occasional film – Beauty Investigator, Touch
of Evil, Dangerous Duty – and is in the recent Alman Wong film, Her Name
is Cat II.
(Information provided by Yves Gendron)
Takeshi Kaneshiro/Gum Sing Mo/Jin Cheng Wu/Aniki
Born on 10/1173 in Taiwan
One could possibly pinpoint the beginning of
Hong Kong’s movie infatuation with longhaired pretty boys on Takeshi. Beginning
in the mid-90s he brought his soulful eyes and sensitive good looks to
Hong Kong and was soon elevated to an Idol status among teenage girls and
having his face plastered across innumerable glossy magazines. Admittedly
Ekin Cheng was on the scene before Takeshi, but he didn’t really achieve
idol status till his Young and Dangerous films. The difference for me though
between Takashi and the idol boys that have followed is that Takeshi is
actually very talented.
When he turns to Brigitte Lin in Chungking Express
and tries talking to her in four different languages (i.e., Cantonese,
Japanese, English and Mandarin), it gives a hint as to his multi-cultural
background. Half Japanese and half Taiwanese Chinese, Takeshi grew up and
attended a predominantly English-language International School in Taiwan
and began appearing in commercials at the age of fifteen. A few years later
he began making music and released six albums between 1992 and 1993. This
brought him to the attention of filmmakers in Hong Kong and it wasn’t long
before he was starring in films.
In fact his first film was the sequel to The Heroic
Trio, The Executioners, in which he plays a messiah like figure in a futuristic
world – sort of a different kind of idol. He followed this with a small
role in Mermaids Gets Married, but his next film shot him into the stratosphere
with his charming turn as a lovelorn policeman in Chungking Express who
flirts with a mysterious femme fatale but ends up only eating plates of
chef salads and chips plus cleaning her shoes while she sleeps. Director
Wong Kar-Wai clearly liked his performance enough to cast Takeshi in his
next film – Fallen Angels in 1995. In one of his most bizarre roles, Takeshi
plays a mute character who breaks into various business establishments
after closing to re-open them for business.
Christopher Doyle -- the cinematographer of
Fallen Angels (and quite a few other notable films) -- wrote the following
about the sometime Prada model in his “Angel Talk” (that functions as an
unofficial photobook of that 1995 Wong Kar Wai film):-
“Takeshi became an actor somewhere between
the shooting of Chungking Express and Fallen Angels.
He used to be just another pretty face, and
a bit of a “Diva” if you’d have asked me at the time. An “idol” who
usually tried to find the easiest way to get through a scene or the cutest
way to do a shot.
He surprised me this time by showing that
he’d learned somehow that an actor has to “give” and not “protect his image”
or himself. Somewhere he’d come to realize that we all had his and
the film’s best interests in mind. That acting is about “truth” and
that film making is about “trust”.
Fallen Angels couldn’t be the way it is without
Takeshi’s exuberance and increasingly inspired ideas [One of which got
him giving a dead pig a massage!]. He went out on a limb this time
and his courage really paid off” (1996:34).
Around these two classic films, he -- who sadly
does not seem to have received any acting awards or even nominations thus
far -- also appeared in a number of lesser ones – the amusing Young Policemen
in Love, Ching Siu Tung’s Dr. Wai in ‘The Scripture with No Words’, Don’t
Give a Damn, Yes Sir, School Days – but by 1996 he was becoming fairly
selective in his film selection and for the most part he only appeared
in high profile films from that time on. Some of these are Lost and
Found (which established him as a UFO film favorite plus made him a popular
choice of leading man opposite Kelly Chan (with whom he would later co-star
with in Anna Magdalena and Lavender)), The Odd One Dies (a quirky Milkyway
Image crime drama), Downtown Torpedoes (whose good-looking young stars
are among the most capable of their generation), The Sleepless Town (a
Hong Kong-Japan co-production helmed by the director of Lost and Found,
Lee Chi Ngai, which has his character getting involved with another femme
fatale and Japan-based ethnic Chinese gangsters along with the yakuza)
and Tempting Heart (a romantic film directed by a fellow Taiwanese talent
in Sylvia Chang that was partly filmed in Japan as well as Hong Kong).
Takeshi -- who does not seem to have appeared in a single Hong Kong film
in the year 2001 (but hopefully has not given up on the HKSAR’s movie industry)
-- brings a certain lost sweet innocence to all of these films that can
be very effective.
In recent years, Takeshi has also made an effort
to break into the Japanese market – he speaks Japanese fluently – and has
appeared in Japanese films (like Space Travelers), television series and
tv commercials. In 1998, he also co-starred in the unfortunately
not very much liked Too Tired to Die with Mira Sorvino.
Tam Sin Hung
According to the hkmdb.com, her film career
began in 1953 and she has been in tons of films before seemingly
ending her film career with The Queer Story in 1997.
These days, Tam Sin Hung is probably most remembered
for her role as Rong Yi in the longest running TVB series to date, A Kindred
Spirit. Although she was not one of the lead characters, her supporting
part was not small either as she plays Lai Suen's character's maid and
featured in the majority of the over 1000 episodes. As the series
progressed her character reunites with several long lost children, one
of whom would turn out to be one of the main villains in the series and
the other would be the simple minded Ah Qiong (Kingdom Yuen).
Tam Sin Hung also acted in several other TVB
series, all of which I cannot seem to recall now except for Time Off (1998)
which also starred Felix Wong Yat-wah and Monica Chan. Tam Siu Hung
has since left TVB and is still acting in television, mostly appearing
in TVB's rival station ATV's productions or Mainland productions.
Some other post 1980 films that she appeared
in were Rouge, Hong Kong Gigolo, Encounter of the Spooky Kind II, Hu-Du-Men
and A Fishy Story.
(Information and write-up from Caroline Chai)
Tang Siu Chuen/ Deng Zhao-zun/Johnny Teng
Often portraying a smug little creep, Tang
made snide appearances in a number of films in the early to mid 90s.
Caroline Chai had some additional information
He shows up regularly in TVB dramas in often
meaty supporting roles. Off the top of my head I remember him as Jade Leung's
cousin in Burning Flame I and Ada Choi's brother in A Matter of Business.
He's been with TVB for quite some time but I don't know if he's still with
Some of his film roles were in: Love in the
River (1998), You Light Up My Life (1998), Blind Romance (the brother,1996),
Bodyguard for the Dead, From Beijing with Love, Kung Fu Scholar, Rebekah,
Sixty Million Dollar Man and A Taste of Killing and Romance (the informant).
Another reader adds this information "he is
the son (real son) of "Shan Ma Zai", who was a very popular actor in the
1960's/1970's and his son just looks like him.
Tang Tao-Liang/Dorian Tang Tao Liang/Flash-Legs.
“Bootmaster” is the name often given to martial
art’s performers gifted with spectacular and superlative kicking abilities.
One of the first to appear in modern kung fu cinema and certainly one of
the greatest to this day would be Korean born ethnic Chinese Tang Tao Liang,
who throughout the seventies astonished viewers with the amazing dexterity,
power and versatility of his kicking techniques. Most of the time he didn’t
make any use of his hands at all. While he never really became a huge genre
superstar like Bruce or Jackie, or made any really outstanding films, he
is still to this day one of the genre’s favourite cult figures.
Tang was born in Korea from Chinese parents who
had immigrated there to escape the trouble of their war-torn native land
during the Japanese invasion of the thirties and forties. At the age of
seven he began training in the country’s national martial art of Taekwondo
and eventually he would become one of the great world masters of this art.
During his competitive days, he developed his trademark prodigious leg
dexterity as well as his “hopping” manoeuvre, a spectacular move where
he would hop towards an opponent in between powerful kicking strikes up
in the air. Eventually Tang became a great champion, winning countless
national tournament events consecutively. Besides Taekwondo, Tang was also
taught a peculiar brand of martial art called Gecko, not a fighting art
but a climbing technique to scale walls using both legs which would be
featured later in some of his films.
In 1971, Bruce Lee with his Hong Kong martial
film debut, THE BIG BOSS had revealed the stunning screen power of the
Taekwondo like kicks. This led to a search by movie producers for equally
proficient “leg-fighters” with Tang becoming one of the first if not the
first outright of such a new kind of martial screen performer. His debut
was with THE HERO OF CHIU CHOW on 3 January 1973.
For the next couple of years Tang would make
occasional appearances in kung fu movies including: TORNADO OF PEARL RIVER
(1974) DYNASTY (1975) and YOUNG HERO OF SHAOLIN. In 1975 however, Golden
Harvest, the studio that had “discovered” Bruce Lee at the dawn of the
seventies, hired Tang. He made two movies for them: HAND OF DEATH, whose
aim seemed to be to make a big league martial star out of Tang, but is
now a film more famous for the uniqueness of bringing together John Woo,
Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung than for it’s involvement with Tang. Then the
same year he did THE HIMALAYAN, co-starring Harvest female martial star
Angela Mao, which is considered to have one of his finest fighting displays.
Perhaps disappointed by the films unsatisfactory
box-office results, Golden Harvest did not retain Tang’s services for any
more movies. However the films were good enough to make Tang one of the
lead players in the low budget independent martial art movie market. For
the next five years Tang appeared in nearly 30 or so low-budget kung fu
movies, many of which would become appreciated as cult favourites such
as THE HOT THE COOL AND THE VICIOUS (76) pairing him with southern stylist
Don Wong. Other names he was occasionally paired with were: Lo Lieh, Meng
Fei, Angela Mao and even ENTER THE DRAGON’s Jim Kelly for the TATTOO DRAGON
(78). One of the highlights of his career was with THE LEGS FIGHTERS where
besides his usual kicking feats he also played a stern no-nonsense teacher
to his mischievous undisciplined co-star the wonderfully leggy and flexible
Hsia Kwan Lee. Another fateful encounter was in SEA DRAGON GODESS starring
kung fu female wonder Polly Shangkwan Ling-feng where he played the typical
white haired villain, the same sort he had fought himself as the hero in
many previous movies.
In between films Tang Tao Liang spent time teaching.
One of his students John Liu followed in his master’s footsteps and he
too became a favourite “bootmaster” performer in such kung fu films as
SECRET RIVALS (76) and THE SNUFF BOTTLE CONNECTION (77). He also came up
with his own kicking techniques, which he named “Zen Kwan-do”. Another
of Tang’s students was Yuen Biao.
As martial art cinema was declining at the
dawn of the eighties, Tang left movies, his last appearance being in GODFATHER
OF FURY (82). Since then he has relocated to California and opened his
own school. In the late nineties he taught Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter,
the man whose kicking prowess had brought attention to the kicking oriented
performer in the first place. Thus in a way, Tang had come full circle.
(Written up by Yves Gendron)
Tats Lau Yi-tat
Born on 02/27/63 in Hong Kong
Tats is another film composer turned actor
– an odd anomaly that HK has a few of. He has composed the film music for
over 25 films - some of these being The Log, Temptation of a Monk, Queen
of Temple Street, Three Summers, Autumn Moon and Forbidden City Cop. His
looks have led to him portraying film characters that tend to be a bit
on the eccentric but unforgettable side. Some of these are Who’s Like a
Ghost in Forbidden City Cop, the Shaolin Abbot in God of Cookery, Jackie
Chan’s assistant in Gorgeous and the rather incompetent assassins in Master
Q 2001, You Shoot, I Shoot and a father in Glass Tears He also played
an oddball killer in Timeless Romance in which he partners up with Theresa
Other than his film work, Tats Lau is also an
accomplished musician and has been termed the "Godfather of Alternative
Music in Hong Kong". He and Anthony Wong Yiu Ming formed a band in 1986
called Tat Ming Yat Pai that was heavily influenced by European electronic
music. Tats played all the instruments and his partner did the vocals.
The band broke up in 1990 and Tats has released solo albums since. One
media source had this to say about the band "Their music, cerebral and
poetic, touched on a wide range of social issues such as youth, politics
and sexuality - topics widely regarded as taboo.
Teddy Robin Kwan
Born in 1948
This bantam sized actor/producer/composer/singer
certainly had an interesting career and during the 1980s he was one of
Hong Kong’s more popular celebrities. He rose to prominence in the mid-1960s
by heading the popular pop band Teddy and the Playboys (the name Teddy
came from the term 'teddy boys'). After a number of hits, he took an acting
role in a Shaw Brothers film called The Price of Love in 1970. I have never
seen this film, but I can’t imagine it was a kung fu film – Teddy instead
created a film persona as a slick urbane schemer with a good heart buried
At some point after this he emigrated to Canada
where he lived until his return in 1979 to direct one of the more influential
crime films during that period – Cops and Robbers. Some other films that
he directed over his career are Shanghai Shanghai and Legend of Wisely.
He has also produced serious films such as The Story of Woo Viet, Victory,
Temptation of a Monk and composed the score for As Tears Go By. But he
is best known for his film roles - the little guy making his way
in a big world by way of his wits. He teamed up three times with George
Lam in the early 1980s – All the Wrong Spies, All the Wrong Clues and Banana
Cop. Some of his other films were Run Tiger Run (directed by John Woo),
The Great Pretenders, To Spy with Love, Working Class and Twin Dragons.
Some other films for which he has composed
the score are Black Mask, The Adventurers, Aces Go Places, City on Fire
and Tiger on the Beat.
Better known as a singer, Teresa made a few
appearances in some Hong Kong films – The Age of Miracles (the daughter),
the Chow Yun Fat film, City War in which she amusingly plays the woman
that friends try and set him up with, 18 Times, Happy Ghost (the nun) and
Isle of Fantasy (the head of the troupe). From an ethnic Philipino background,
she was born into a musical family and in 1963 at the age of 6 she won
a music talent show in Hong Kong. She is still performing at the present
time and is more of a jazz than a Canto-pop stylist. She recently appeared
in the critically appreciated film Truth or Dare: 6th Floor Rear Flat (2003)
as a concerned mother and has the opportunity to sing a wonderful song.
Teresa Mak Ga-kei
Certainly one of her most memorable images
is as the shaven headed punk in the 1996 Streets of Fury, but most often
Teresa looks quite normal and very attractive. She seems to get stuck in
a lot of "best friend" to the main female types of roles, but always leaves
you curious to see more of her tough fast talking characters.
She was in the 1993 Miss HK pageant and went on
from there into show business and was appearing in films by 1994. Some
of her other film roles were as Princess in The Mermaid got Married, one
of the girl gang in Sexy and Dangerous, The Evil Queen in Erotic Ghost
Story – The Perfect Match, Black Cat in Jail, Martial Angels, Electrical
Girl and Love Me, Love My Money.
Apparently in 1996 her career had stalled and
she moved to the UK where all that fatty food ballooned up her weight quite
a bit. She lost it though and came back to HK where she got a prime TV
role in Duke of Mt. Deer and her career has been quite solid since in both
TV and film – and recently she has been doing commercials for breast enhancement
cream. Don't laugh - she was reportedly paid HK$ 1MM for doing so!
Teresa Mo Shun-kwan
In the first four years of the 90s, Teresa
was one of the most popular actresses in Hong Kong specializing primarily
in comedy but also being Chow Yun Fat’s love interest in Hard Boiled. She
made over 20 films in this period – bringing a screwy but intelligent comic
relish to many of her roles. Some of her better known work was in The Magnificent
Scoundrels, Legend of the Dragon, 92 Legendary La Rose Noire (which landed
her a Best Supporting Actress nomination), Now You See Me . . . Now You
Don’t, Perfect Couples, and the all-star Chinese New Year comedy trio of
All’s Well Ends Well, All’s Well, Ends Well Too and It’s a Wonderful Life.
Teresa had actually been acting in TV for over a decade by the time she
After marrying director Tony Au (Dream Lovers,
Touch of Evil, A Roof with a View, Au Revoir, Mon Amour), she retired and
temporarily emigrated to Canada. Two years ago, she and her family
returned to Hong Kong. Thus far though, she has only appeared in
one new film -- as the HKFA Best Supporting Actress nominated role of the
kooky woman in And I Hate You So (2000). Instead, she appears to
have concentrated -- like fellow funny woman Sandra Ng -- more on talk
show radio hosting.
became a film star - at an age when many HK
actresses have already retired by.
BTW, a short while back, Teresa’s All’s Well,
Ends Well and All’s Well, Ends Well Too co-star, Leslie Cheung, caused
a stir by publicly divulging that years ago, he actually had been in love
with her and she had rejected his serious and sincere proposal of marriage.
She appeared in a few cult like Taiwanese films
in the 1980s – Pink Force Commandos (the woman in the cool white outfit),
Golden Queen Commandos (the tattooed Amazon) and Woman Warriors of Kingsman.
Terence Yin Chi-wai
One has to wonder why some good looking guys
get the good guy roles, while others seem stuck in playing slimy villains.
Yin seems to have a slight sneer to his countenance that has pushed him
into the latter category – and he has done a fine job of portraying totally
irredeemable nasties in Hot War, Gen – X –Cops, Metade Fumaca, Martial
Angels and Bullets of Love. Two of his most intriguing roles though were
actually when he played slightly morally ambiguous characters in Bishonen
and X’Mas Rave Fever.
Hopefully he can apply his studies to cope with
his being thrust into bad guy roles as he earned a degree in philosophy
at the University of California, Berkeley. He came to Asia from Los Angeles
initially to become a pop star, but when that didn't seem to be going anywhere
he moved into film. Yin gets to play one of Simon Yam's henchman in the
Hollywood film, Tomb Raiders: Cradle of Life. His mother is the incredibly
beautiful Shaw Brother's actress, Jenny Hu and his father is Kang Wei,
a respected director in the 1970s.
Theresa Lee Yee-hung
Born 02/27/70 in Hong Kong
In a rather astonishing rise to popularity,
Theresa left Canada in 1994 where she had been raised since the age of
six and returned to Hong Kong and within two years was a big star – even
though her Cantonese was apparently quite awful. Upon returning to Hong
Kong she entered the Miss Hong Kong Beauty Pageant and was runner up.
Her very cute petite looks and bubbly personality
quickly led to roles on TVB, a winning movie debut (as a cheery prostitute
who charms Andy Lau and Kenny Bee) in flawed but well-meaning What a Wonderful
World, then roles in two terrific films in 1996 – Big Bullet (in which
she speaks some English) and Who’s the Woman, Whos’ the Man. She was nominated
as Best Supporting Actress for both films. In 1997 she duplicated this
feat with her roles in Downtown Torpedoes (in which she plays a mute) and
Intimates. In the same year she also appeared in the atmospheric Love is
not a Game, but a Joke.
But in a strange turnabout, this seemed to cap
her popularity – and since then she has really been in no films that were
of this quality (or where she’s had ample screen time). Timeless Romance
was quite fun with her as a kooky gun toting femme fatale but it went nowhere,
in Extreme Crisis she played second fiddle to Hsu Chi and was badly miscast,
Love and Let Love was just plain boring, When I Fall in Love...with Both
wasn’t much better and in her most high profile film of recent times –
Purple Storm – hers was only a small even if effective supporting part.
Odd how these things happen – HK embraced her and then let her go. She
still appears in a lot of television and her best role as of late was in
a Canadian production, Lunch with Charles, in which she co-starred with
her co-star from Big Bullet, Lau Ching-wan.