Chow Yun Fat to me is Gary Cooper, John Wayne
and Cary Grant all rolled into one. He started off in HK television for
a number of years, but in collaborations with directors John Woo and Ringo
Lam he became an international star. Though best known for his action roles,
he is able to carry a romantic or comedic film with incredible charm. I
am still not sure whether he is really a great actor, but he has such screen
presence that it doesn't really matter. Watching him simply carry hmself
or give that dazzling smile is often enough to carry a film.
The Killer - what more can you say about
this film? It is the film that made both CYF and John Woo huge stars and
helped send them on their way to Hollywood. Chow Yun Fat is bigger than
life here and his portrayal of a honorable hitman tears at your heart.
Full Contact - working with Ringo Lam on
this one, CYF adorned in short spiky hair, is as intense and tough as he
ever has been as he intricately plots his revenge against those that betrayed
Hard Boiled - in some ways a better film
technically than The Killer, but in my mind it is missing the sentimentality
that makes The Killer such a classic. Still CYF’s winning combination of
playfulness and single minded dedication to catching the bad guy is impossible
Peace Hotel - CYF’s last HK film
before he set sail for Hollywood and in many ways it is a tour de force
of charisma and chemistry. The film itself suffers from certain weaknesses
of structure, but CYF rides high like John Wayne in The Searchers and the
chemistry between him and his co-star Cecilia Yip is a pure pleasure to
A Better Tomorrow - CYF’s role is really
secondary to Ti Lung’s here, but the image he creates of a tough guy who
is loyal to his friend - dressed in a long black overcoat with match stick
in mouth made him too cool to ignore.
God of Gambler’s Return - CYF’s second
outing as the incredibly charismatic God of Gamblers. Considered by many
to be inferior to the first film, but I find it to be much more entertaining
and fast moving and when he finally sits down at the end to fight for his
title and get his revenge it is glorious.
A Better Tomorrow II - After becoming a
star after the first ABT, CYF takes control here and gives another bravado
performance with his “rice like my father and mother. Don’t fuck with my
An Autumn's Tale - one of Chow's most relaxing
and charming performances. He and Cherie Chung match up beautifully in
one of the very best romantic films ever.
Dream Lovers - the only film that paired
up Chow Yun Fat and another HK icon - Brigitte Lin in this passionate tale
of crossed love over different lifetimes.
Once a Thief - this Woo film shows another
side of CYF as he plays a totally charming Cary Grant like cat burglar
along with Leslie Cheung and Cherie Chung.