Valerie Chow Kar-ling
Born in 1970 in Vancouver
It still surprises me that someone with the
classy beauty and solid acting skills of this actress did not become a
bigger star in either Hong Kong or the United States. I recall seeing Twenty
Something in a film festival long before I became a real HK film fan and
being quite impressed with her. At that early stage of my Hong Kong viewing
I didn’t at all connect her with the playful sexy heartbreaking air hostess
in Chungking Express that I had seen somewhat earlier. Her role in Chungking
along with a similarly small role in The Blade (the prostitute) will always
make me a fan of hers. Though her screen time in both films is limited,
they both have moments that have stayed with me – in Chungking it is the
“flight preparation” demonstration she gives to the music of “What a Difference
a Day Makes” before rolling into bed with Tony Leung and in The Blade it
is simply that first cat like look at her on top of the wagon staring down
– when both On and Iron Head are overwhelmed with her beauty.
She was born in Canada and went with her family
to Hong Kong in 1991 where she entered Hong Kong University (from where
she graduated with a law degree) and the Hong Kong Beauty Pageant in 1991
in which she was runner up. Before getting into film, she became a popular
TV host on shows like Eye on Hong Kong. After her debut in Twenty Something
(1994) she went on a run of 12 films within two years. Outside of the two
previous films mentioned, the most memorable of these were High Risk (the
female terrorist), The Case of the Cold Fish (the girlfriend) and the fun
action film, Red Zone. Although she played second fiddle (like everyone
else) to Chingmy Yau in Lover of the Last Empress, she also impressed in
that Category III period piece. Many of the films from these years though
were quite forgettable.
After this spate of films and ones in the tawdry
Street Angels (1996) and Hero (1997), she began to become dissatisfied
with her career in Hong Kong and moved to Hollywood to try her luck. Switching
her name to Rachel Shane, she became a Revlon covergirl and appeared in
a selection of B films – Futuresport, Bridge of Dragons and Phantoms –
that didn’t do much for her resume. She lived in New York City for three
years and in an interview said that she loved it. With her acting career
in the U.S. going nowhere, Valerie returned to Hong Kong in 2000 and started
working as a Public Relations Officer for a banking firm. At the
same time, she also appeared in some TV shows and a few films – Sausalito
(the head of the company), Healing Hands (cameo) and Inner Senses. She
has announced (2003) that she has left acting for the most part and will
work in the marketing area of Peddar, a shoe company.
Veronica Yip Huk-hing
Born in 07/25/66 in Hong Kong
In the early 1990s there wasn’t anyone more
scrumptious than Veronica Yip. Or more unclothed. She is like a big slurpy
melting ice cream cone in those early films of hers – a gorgeous round
face and a smashing smile – and a voluptuous body that made men’s knees
shake, rattle and roll. She started her entertainment career by receiving
the Runner-up position in the Miss Asia Beauty Pageant and then went on
to join the ATV television station. For the next six years she whiled away
there without a huge amount of success. Then she decided that her career
needed a boost – with her bust!
The film Love and Sex in Eastern Hollywood has
a character supposedly modeled after Veronica (played by Angie Cheung)
in which she decides to enter into the world of Cat. III films (after some
enhancements performed) and to reveal her plentiful assets. Veronica in
fact did this and in 1991 performed in three erotic films – Hidden Desire,
Take Me and Pretty Woman – that turned her into a star/celebrity in no
time. Not that you can really tell by this trio of skin baring films, but
there was actually some acting talent lurking behind those saucy eyes and
it began to emerge in the following year.
In 1992 she still made some racy films – but they
were of a higher and more mainstream status – Call Girl 92, Cash on Delivery
and Gigolo and Whore II – and her roles were more dramatic and much more
than simply shedding her clothes – and in one film Rose – she plays a vulnerable
and lonely friend of Maggie Cheung’s and was quite wonderful in it. This
success seemed to encourage her to take on more challanging roles and to
leave her Cat. III roles in the past.
In the following year she embarked on a series
of good films and good roles – Rose Rose I Love You, Retribution Sight
Unseen, Three Summers, The Eagle Shooting Heroes (where she was one of
the few cast members who didn’t also appear in the work that it’s widely
seen as a spoof of -- Ashes of Time), Love Among the Triad and the wonderfully
acted A Roof with a View. Over the next few years she took on some other
solid roles – Law on the Brink, the serious drama Red Rose White Rose,
1941 Hong Kong on Fire and the difficult role of a rape victim in Scarred
To some degree though her Cat. III image stayed
with her and she was never taken seriously as a dramatic actress which
is a shame because she has given a few terrific performances. Part of this
may also be due to her having some well publicized love affairs during
those years. Her last film (the dreadful Hong Kong Showgirls) was in 1996
after which she retired, married a wealthy businessman, moved to New York
and in 2000 had an adorable little baby girl.
Vicky Zhao Wei
Born 03/12/76 in the Anhui province in China
Vicky has made a recent splash in Hong Kong
and was in fact the highest paid entertainer in Hong Kong in 2001. Her
popularity began in China where she became a huge star while appearing
in several television series after she was chosen from Beijing's Film Academy
at the age of 21. For her role in Princess Returning Pearl she received
the Golden Eagle, which is the top TV award in China. She also recorded
some musical albums - though in an interview she stated that she didn’t
much like them!
In 1999 she made the jump to HK film in the mediocre
Déjà Vu, but has since appeared in high profile films – The
Duel, Shaolin Soccer (in which she made herself very homely) and Chinese
Odyssey 2002. She clearly has a very appealing personality that comes through
in her films. Recently she ran into a hailstorm of criticism when she allowed
herself to be outfitted in a dress with the Japanese military flag motif
in a print ad – and she was condemned by many for being unpatriotic or
simply not being very smart.
This faux paus of hers gained further notoriety
when it was announced that the Mainland Chinese government planned to refer
to it in school text books. Hopefully however, this will be far from
what she will be most famous for in years to come.
Victor Hon Kwan
This character actor has appeared in loads
of films – generally in fairly small roles – since the mid-1980s. Some
of the better known ones are: Prison on Fire I & II, School on Fire,
Lee Rock, Full Contact, Daughter of Darkness II, Operation Scorpio and
The Young and Dangerous III.
Vincent Kok/Kuk Tak-chiu
Another film renaissance man, Vincent has directed,
written, produced and acted in films since the mid-1990s. Most of his acting
roles tend to be small – often in films in which he has a behind the camera
role – but often memorable due to the eccentric characters he has portrayed.
Some of these were in Love on Delivery, The Golden Girls, Forbidden City
Cop, Sexy and Dangerous, Viva Erotica!, The God of Cookery, First Love
Unlimited, Metade Fumaca, Okinawa Rendez-vous (where he threatened to steal
the show from the likes of Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Kar Fai), Summer
Holiday (the boss), Shaolin Soccer and Merry Go Round (the customer).
He has thus far directed only a few films – Only
Fools Fall in Love, the classic Forbidden City Cop, Jackie Chan’s Gorgeous
and the perhaps not such great Chinese New Year film, Marry a Rich Man.
Where his real talent seems to emerge is in his scripts where he brings
a sly wit to bear – a number of them being Stephen Chow vehicles. Some
of these writing credits are All’s Well Ends Well, Flirting Scholar, Love
on Delivery, Satin Steel, From Beijing with Love, Forbidden City Cop, God
of Cookery, Hitman, You Shoot, I Shoot and 2002.
Kok began his career while in Canada where he
went to study communications. While there he met producer/director Clifton
Ko in 1991 and penned many scripts for him over the next few years – Mad
Mad Mad World II, Beyond’s Diary, Stooges in Hong Kong, Crazy Love, Daddy,
Father, Papa, Summer Lovers, Laughter of “Water Margins”, Vendetta and
others. His niece is actress-singer Jo Kuk.
Vincent Wan Yeung-ming
One of the more solid character actors of the
90s, Wan has generally gone unrecognized and only had the opportunity to
star in a few low budget films. In the early 90s he showed up in many films
– All for the Winner, Fist of Fury 1991, Prison on Fire II, Call Girl 92,
Love Among the Triad, Can’t Stop My Crazy Love for You – but it wasn’t
really until the later 90s that he became more familiar to viewers.
A major part of this was due to his appearances
(as branch boss, Ben Hon) in the Young and Dangerous films and their spin-offs
– Young and Dangerous IV and V, Portland Street Blues, Those Were the Days
(2000) and Born to be King. As an honorable and likable triad member plus
good friend (and progressively more) of Sister 13 he became one of the
more popular side stars in the series. Other prominent films that he appeared
in were The Storm Riders, Love is not a Game, but a Joke (the object of
Hsu Chi’s desire) and Metade Fumaca. In low budget films such as The Warning
Time (which he also co-directed) and Cold War he has taken on leading roles.
Vivian Chow Wai-man
Born on 11/20/67 in Hong Kong
As the girl next-door type (and perhaps quintessential
Jade Babe), Vivian was tremendously popular as both an actress and a singer
from the late 80s through her retirement in the mid-90s. She -- whose occupying
of a significant place in Hong Kong pop culture for a time can be seen
in their being “in-joke” references to, along with a cameo appearance by,
her in movies like Tom, Dick and Hairy (1993) -- started off her career
in entertainment at an early age when she entered a singing contest at
16 and though she didn’t win she received a fair amount of attention and
was soon working for TVB.
After moving to film, she made a quick mark with
a series of family type romances in which she played a sweet innocent –
Heart to Hearts, Heart into Hearts, Unmatchable Match, The Perfect Match
and Heart Against Hearts. By 1992 though she was playing more adult roles
– Angel Hunter (a convert to a dangerous cult), Summer Lovers and Girls
Without Tomorrow (the TV actress daughter of Petrina Fung Bobo’s character).
Still with later films like Family Affairs, To
Love Ferrari and Top Banana Club she returned to her “good girl” image
and soon after retired from film. Much of her popularity stemmed from her
singing career in which she has had hits in Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese.
Born on 03/19/75 in Taiwan
This small (5’2’’) Lolita like cutie pie has
managed to have a fairly successful career without a lot of discernable
talent in either acting or singing – but by exploiting her youthful sexuality
in an almost innocent manner (even when nude) and she has attracted many
fans and has many websites devoted to her.
She began by winning the Taiwan CTS TV Entertainment
Beauty Girl Contest in 1990 and soon joined a girl band called “ShaoNuDui”
that was popular for a while. Soon she went solo and released a nude pictorial
book in Japan where she is hugely popular. Her singing career dwindled
down, but she appeared in some Japanese TV series and was part of a comedy
group as well called Black Biscuit Bang.
Her film career has been spotty as she has focused
to some degree on the more lucrative Japanese market. She has appeared
in films made in both Taiwan and Hong Kong. Her first film was in 1994
– the cutesy Shaolin Popey – but she followed this with the violent Hunting
List and then in 1995 was in two Cat. III films – Angel Heart and Devil
Since then though she has gone back to making
family films – almost like those other films were a bad dream – with Dragon
in Shaolin, Adventurous Treasure Island, L..O..V..E Love, Your Place or
Mine and Jackie Chan’s The Accidental Spy in 2001. Even in this latest
film at the now ripe age of 26 she still manages to look sweet sixteen.
Born in 1966 in Shanghai, China
She is the daughter of a famous Mainland actress,
Zhu Man-Fang, and began acting herself while still a teenager in various
television shows in China. She later came to the United States to study
at Hawaii Pacific University.This lovely actress has apparently only appeared
in one Hong Kong film – as Madame Chiang Kai- Shek in The Soong Sisters.
Her first major role outside of China was in Bernardo
Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1987) as the titular character’s second
wife. After this she was in some other high profile films – Heaven &
Earth (1993), The Joy Luck Club (as the scorned yet filial daughter who
cut some of her own flesh to make a nourishing soup for a physically ill
parent) and the sensuous The Pillow Book (with Ewan MacGregor) in 1996.
During these years she was also in the TV series – The Vanishing Son. Since
The Soong Sisters in 1997 she has appeared in A Bright Shining Lie (an
HBO special), 8 1/2 Women directed by Peter Greenaway and a Chinese film
called Roses are Red. She also has made guest starring appearances in American
TV series like E.R.