Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Avenue of Stars: A Guide For The HK Film Ignoramus Part 4

The time is right to round off our little educational trip into HK film land and bring the Ignoramuses guide to a close. I feel enlightened after this brief trip through and what started off as a bit of a slagging - because let’s face it, the AoS deserves to be slagged off a little bit - has managed to make me aware of some lesser aspects of the HK film industry. It's just a shame that the path to greater knowledge is littered with bent over tourists huddled on the ground, badly spelt information boards, gaudy plastic molded effigies and tinny 'muzak' being played over and over again on the sound system.

Anyway, the show must go on and so here is the last installment. To catch up on the other articles, please feel free to find them here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Once again, photos are all courtesy of Thomas Podvin’s HKCinemagic website unless otherwise stated.

76. Wong Tin Lam (1928 – 2010)

Sadly, Wong only just recently passed away at the end of 2010 and despite having a career that has stretched to around 60 years he is perhaps more famous now because of the successes of his son – Wong Jing. Wong started out as an assistant director before moving on to his mainstay of directing and then only in later life did he ditch the directing and stick to acting – almost like a Hollywood career in reverse but very typical for HK.

Funnily enough I do actually recognise Wong from a brief scene in Enter The Dragon when he played a big-jowled laughing guest at the pre-tournament banquet. Blink and you’ll miss him, but it just goes to show that many of these actors are still recognisable even to eejits like me, we just need to be given a bit more information before making the connection.

77. Bow Fong (1922 – 2006)

Perhaps more recognised by the name Bao Fong, Bow is the father of Peter Pau who was the cinematographer on Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Bow was a regular in the HK film scene since the late 40′s. His output was a bit low by HK-standards - 'only' featuring in about 80 films (though actually pinning down the number of films someone was in is not an easy task) - but he also directed, assistant-directed and wrote another 30 or so pictures throughout the 50′s and 80′s.

Bow also had two daughter’s including Pao Hei-Ching, who can be seen most recently in films such as Reign of Assassins, Fearless and Crossing Hennessey.

78. Lau Kar Leung (1936 – 2013)

Lau was one of the more recognisable faces from HK’s often generic (to me at least) league of film stars. Lau was born into a kung fu family because his dad was a student of the famous Hung Gar sifu – Lam Sai Wing (himself a student of the legendary Wong Fei Hung whose life has been mythologised in copious films in the 20th century). Lau started in the industry in the 1950′s as a stunt player and actor but soon also became established as an action choreographer. He even managed to wangle a spot on the local film crew involved in the Robert Wise production of The Sand Pebbles in 1966.

He is probably most famous in the west (remember, this guide is for ignoramuses) indirectly through the various fight scenes in some classic Shaw Bros films such as The Jade Bow, Men from the Monastery and even The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (a Shaw’s/Hammer co-production starring David Chiang) and many, many more.

I first saw Leung when I managed to get hold of an ex-rental Warner Bros release of Legendary Weapons of Kung Fu (aka Legendary Weapons of China) in which he featured alongside his brother Lau Kar Wing and adopted brother Lau Gar Fei (aka Gordon Liu). Such was the life of a UK-based kung fu film fan during the 1980′s – films were very hard to come by.

He recently made inroads into teaching Lau Family Hung Gar. As with all styles of martial arts, Hung Gar has its share of politics and various people in Hung Kuen circles had questioned the ability of Lau because he had spent so much time working on films. He did establish a school in the rural pastures of Fanling with Mark Houghton as the head Sifu, but I have no idea if it is still up and running (the website disappeared a long time ago). If anyone knows the fate of the school it would be nice to know. He died last year and had a very extravagant and well-attended funeral service at the Hung Hom Funeral Parlour.

79. Shek Wai (1934 – )

One of those ones that seems to be a bit of an enigma – perhaps because she is more commonly referred to by the Mandarin pinyin version of her name Shi Hui. Thankfully Chinese wiki has come to my rescue to provide me with some basic details.

She was born in Zhejiang but moved to Hong Kong in 1947 at the age of 13 and joined Great Wall Movie Enterprises after finishing school. She met and married Fu Chi (see below), a director at Great Wall, and they had children including the former TVB actress Gigi Fu Ming Hin. It seems as though Wai was a bit of a Communist sympathiser (despite clearing out pre-revolution) and her hubby was arrested during the ’67 riots and taken to the infamous White Building on Victoria Road. Of course that could just be me getting my translation mixed up.

She emigrated to Canada in 1991 but has since been back to China to participate in the annual National People’s Congress as well as singing performances and painting exhibitions.

80. Fu Chi (1929 – )

A native of Ningbo in Zhejiang he studied in Shanghai before moving to Hong Kong and starting his acting career with Great Wall in 1952. It wasn’t long before he moved into related areas such as writing and directing and as mentioned he met his wife (#79 Shek Wai – see above) on set in 1954.

He seems to have been abandoned by various people – perhaps because of his previously mentioned association with the Communists which led to him being detained after the 1967 riots – and made a comeback in 1978 when he joined Great Wall, once again, on the administrative side. He went on to help make Jet Li’s first film Shaolin Temple in 1982.

81. Grace Chang (1933 -)

Wikipedia says she was born in Shanghai, but HKCinemagic says her birthplace was Nanjing before moving to Shanghai to grow up. Either way she arrived in HK in 1948 - another actor fleeing whatever disaster was about to unfold in China. In the early 1950's she enrolled in acting lessons at Taishan studios (just one of many in the territory at the time) and made several films with them before moving to work with MP&GI (Cathay). Although her filmography is a bit slim compared to many of her contemporaries, she did manage to get a small role in the 1955 Soldier of Fortune as a prostitute working from a "flower boat" in a typhoon shelter (hmm, I thought she looked familiar but couldn't place her face). She retired in 1961.

82. Patsy Karling Ho (1935 – )

Okay, the one thing I really need to note about Patsy is that she is now forever remembered on the AoS as "Pasty". Either the AoS management have seriously screwed up (what? no, never…) or ol’ Pasty was obviously at the leading edge of Hong Konger’s usage of a multitude of verbs, nouns and adjectives as first names. Since I’ve been living here I’ve encountered some fantastically named people such as Milk, Empty, Dragon, Passion, Pinky, Piano and many more, I guess Pasty is in the same tradition.

Anyway, I’ll assume it’s just another f*ck up by the AoS management – either no one has noticed before or they have noticed but don’t think anyone else will (let’s face it, it’s a bit of crap tourism aimed almost entirely at the Mainland Chinese crowd – I doubt anyone would have noticed, so I feel it my duty to draw attention to it). Poor old Pasty, erm I mean Patsy.

Well, what about Patsy? Well it seems she was born in Nanhai in Guangdong and moved with her family to HK in 1949 – yet another product of the upheaval over the border. She went to school at Kowloon True Light Girls School (that one is still around) and applied for an apprenticeship at Leng Kwong Films. Two years later she was cast in her first feature and continued to star in features over the next decade. In 1967 she married a Thai Chinese gentleman, retired from the film industry and moved to Bangkok where she has been ever since. She always seems to have appeared in films alongside Patrick Tse Yin.

83. Kwan San (1933 – )

Aka Guan Shan – a name that wasn’t familiar to me until I found out he is the father of a well-known HK actress: Rosumand Kwan – familiar to me because she was in a couple of Jackie Chan films during the 80′s (such as Armour of God and Project A: Part 2). Her dad though was another product of the Great Wall Film Company which he joined in 1954. Prior to that he was, like most other Hong Konger’s at the time, a migrant from the Mainland who did just about every job under the sun in order to help his younger brother finish school.

He holds the impressive achievement of being the very first HK actor to receive an overseas film award: in 1958 he won the Silver Sail Award for Best Actor in the Locarno International Film Festival (in Switzerland). The film for which he received the award was The True Story of Ah Q.

He joined Shaws in 1961 and made the majority of his films for them. Actually, once again I have seen his work without realising because he too had a small role in Jackie Chan’s Police Story 2 as well as Shanghai Express starring Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung (a film worth watching for one specific scene when Yuen Biao flips off the top of a burning 3-storey building). He retired in the 80′s and moved to the US but has since been seen in a few films throughout the 90′s.

84. Lo Wai (1918 – 1996)

Arch villain Lo Wai (aka Lo Wei) was a prolific director and actor during the 60′s but is probably now best known for his directorship of Bruce Lee’s first two films for Golden Harvest: The Big Boss and Fist of Fury. Lo even had a role in the latter as the Police Inspector. He allegedly had links with Triads (trust me, in the HK film industry this is almost a given) and was hated by Bruce because he claimed to be the man who made Lee famous. Lee even threatened him once at GH Studios with what Lo Wai said was a knife. I have direct confirmation that this incident did take place but it wasn’t a knife Bruce threatened him with, it was a sharp part from his belt buckle. Lo Wai called the cops and Bruce had to sign a statement saying he would leave him alone. Meanwhile, Linda (Bruce’s long-suffering wife) had taken the offensive belt buckle and hidden it in a locker at the studios.

Once Lee was dead, Lo Wei tried again with Jackie Chan launching him some awful films in the mid- to late-70′s as the new Bruce Lee. Suffice to say JC’s style, charisma and looks (it was before he had the eyelid surgery) didn’t cut it, these two also had a famous falling out which ended up with JC running away to Taiwan and having Wang Yu try and smooth over the problems.

85. Tong Kai (1937 – )

Tong Kai (or Gai as he is also known) seems to be one of those people who no one has a definitive answer as to where he was born. Some sources say Hong Kong (which although plausible is different from many of his Mainland-born peers on the pavement), the AoS official site says Zhongshan in Guangdung province and somewhere else states it was Macau. All I can safely say is that he was born somewhere but ended up in Hong Kong.

Regardless, he is arguably one of the more influential filmmakers on the floor because it is partly due to him that thin-wire work came to be so prevalent. I must admit, I find wire based fights to be a bit hit and miss. The low level stuff that Jet Li is famed for can look quite good, but I recently caught a glimpse of RZA's The Man with the Iron Fists and the use of wirework in that film was just rubbish, it made the fight scenes just look utterly ridiculous. A big shame.

Tong worked closely with Lau Kar Leung (#78) in developing the use of these wires and impressed Run Run Shaw so much with their work on The Jade Bow that he gave them jobs at his studio as action choreographers. This role took up, by far, the bulk of his work but he also continued his acting (which he started in 1954 with the Hung Wan company) up until he seeming retirement in 1997.

I can’t find any info but I wonder if his retirement from film in 1997 coincided with the Chinese resumption of sovereignty over HK? It wouldn’t surprise me to find he had moved to either Canada, US, UK or Australia. Incidentally, as a nice addition to his bio Tong was also once the student of Yuen Hsiao Tieng aka Simon Yuen. Simon Yuen is the father of Yuen Woo Ping (he of The Matrix et al) and is also the old man who played Beggar So in a few of Jackie Chan’s earlier films (i.e. Drunken Master and Snake in the Eagles Shadow).

86. Nee Kwong (1935 – )

A Shanghai native who is responsible for writing more epic martial arts films than any other person. He came to HK in the late 50′s and penned his first novel in 1957 whilst working for a publication called “Truth Daily” (definitely not another name for the 'China Daily', then). He did make a few films as an actor but this really wasn’t his bread and butter and his place here on the floor seems to be from his writing alone. Here are a few of the titles he penned (or co-penned) and I am sure that even ignoramuses may recognise one or two (erm , well maybe):

One Armed Swordsman (1967), The Deadly Duo (1971), The Water Margin (1972), Boxer From Shantung (1972), Five Shaolin Masters (1974), Men From The Monastery (1974), The Flying Guillotine (1975), Marco Polo (1975), The Brave Archer (1977), Crippled Avengers (1978), The Five Venoms (1978), Enter The Fat Dragon (1978), The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978), Mad Monkey Kung Fu (1979), Return to the 36th Chamber (1980), Five Element Ninjas (1982), The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter (1984) and many many more (classic Shaw Bros fans are simply drooling over their screens right now). Nuff said.

87. James Wong (1940 – 2004)

Aka James Wong Jim – I can’t tell if Wong was born in 1940 or 1941. Online sources quote both. Either way, he moved to HK from nearby Canton (aka Guangzhou) in…wait for it…1949 (all these people running from the Communist Party in 1949 and you wonder why so many people today are falling over themselves to ingratiate themselves with the current version!?). He attended La Salle in Kowloon Tong before attending HKU and going on to be a prolific composer of tunes for various films and TV series. Of course this being HK he wasn’t able to settle for just that and also dabbled in acting. I say dabbled but actually ‘dabbling’ in HK usually means at least 50 films under your belt. Wong completed about 70 or so before succumbing to lung cancer in 2004.

88. Karl Maka (1944 – )

Karl Maka has one of those looks that are hard to forget – a completely bare head (a ‘gwong tau lo’ as my kids like to also call me – even though I have a full head of hair…honest!) complete with moustache and goatee. Although born in China and moved to HK in the 50′s, Maka had some of his education in the US and it was his time there that influenced his brand of humour when he returned to HK.

HK comedies at the time didn’t have humour that was readily understood by different (i.e. non-Chinese) audiences (okay, it’s definitely an area of high subjectivity, but I can’t for the life of me find anything funny in “Old Master Q”). Maka achieved some success by introducing a more westernised-style of humour to his films. I guess the main advantage was to make HK-made comedies a bit more internationally appealing and to an extent it worked, but perhaps it was done at the expense of the local audience because despite initial success he soon found his films to have fallen out of favour. Cinema City, his own production house, shut down and he moved off into the world of real estate.

89. Eric Tsang Chi Wai (1953 – )

The man who has been in just about every film in HK over the past 20 years, and also makes a fortune hosting all those really crap TVB game shows. As a result he is close to being the most annoying person on local TV. Eric’s family life is a bit more interesting because his father was a bent (i.e. corrupt) copper who did a runner to Taiwan when it looked as though his number was about to come up. He was in cahoots with the famous Lui Lok and the other 'Tiger Sergeants'.

Anyway, most people, even ignoramuses like me, will probably recognise Tsang’s diminutive body and bulldog features as the gang boss in Infernal Affairs – one film amongst many hundreds (acting in over 200) as well as one of the directors of JC’s Armour of God (JC being the other one). Tsang actually started out as a stuntman and you will also see him (instantly recognisable) in many of the early kung fu films that were coming out of the territory in the 70′s. He was beaten up by triads a few years ago, supposedly for taking the piss out of Emporer Group's Joey Yung, so I guess he deserves a little bit of recognition for that :-)

90. Chang Suk Ping (1954 – )

At last, evidence that the powers-that-be (those who get to choose who goes on the Avenue) aren’t completely biased towards those with 50 million acting credits to their name. Chang is very much a behind-the-scenes personality with a string of art direction, costume designer and editor credits. A native of Wuxi he is very much still at the heart of the industry and has a string of awards to his name – including a Technical Grand Prize from Cannes for In The Mood For Love.

91. Tony Leung Ka Fai (1958 – )

Aha, the other Tony Leung. I’ve mentioned how poor Tony often gets mixed up with his namesake (although I hasten to add that their Chinese names are not the same) by the popular and ignorant English language press the world over, to be fair his more famous and arguably better-known namesake probably benefits less from the mix up, but there you go.

Tony is another product of TVB’s famed actor training course and has also spent some time as a journalist before becoming the respected actor he is today. It seems as though Tony got his first glimpse of the silver screen thanks to his dad who was a cinema projectionist but towards the end of the 90′s he experienced rather a lot of trouble with triads (i.e. work for us or we’ll kill you). He was most recently seen as playing Bruce Lee’s father – Lee Hoi Chuen – in Robert & Phoebe Lee’s semi-biographical film Bruce Lee My Brother.

This still of Tony is taken from, aptly, Jiang Hu – The Triad Zone which my good friend Dan Thomas is currently mapping all the locations for (amongst many others) so please go and have a look, it’s a great blog.

92. Wong Chau Sang (1961 – )

One of a few personalities on the AoS with Eurasian heritage – the fact that he had to fight some industry racism is perhaps testament to his abilities as an actor. A product of the actor training course at RTV (i.e. today’s ATV) Wong has been a regular feature of the industry for the past 30 years. Ignoramuses may know him as the police chief who gets chucked off the building in Infernal Affairs, Ip Man in Ip Man: The Final Fight, as the nutty Chinese general in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emporer or even as the speccy right hand man of the evil Julian Sands in JC’s truly, TRULY crap The Medallion.  Either way he is a well respected character actor who spends time on the stage as well. I think I first encountered him in Hard Boiled back in the early 90's.

93. Cecilia Cheung Pak Chi (1980 – )

Well, what can I say? Had she not already made it onto the AoS (despite being a relative newcomer compared to her notable Avenue peers) then I doubt she would ever make it considering the amount of trouble that arose out of the Edison Chen photo scandal.

I first saw her in Stephen Chow’s King of Comedy and apparently it was her breakthrough role. Anyway, she was married to Nicholas Tse (yes, son of Patrick) until the fallout from the photo scandal finally finished it all. I just can’t figure out how she made it onto the Avenue ahead of a whole host of people that have been around longer and with more significant contributions to the industry. Nothing against her, but it does make you question the selection criteria (assuming there is one?).

94. Lai Pak Hoi (1888 – 1955)

In what seems to have been an afterthought Lai Pak Hoi – brother of Lai Man Wai (#1 in case you had forgotten) – is included almost at the end of the avenue. Like his brother he was involved in what is thought to be the very first HK made movie – Chuang Tzu Tests His Wife. As you can imagine, the limits of an industry in its infancy meant that Lai didn’t really have the opportunity to be involved in hundreds of films like his modern day counterparts but he arguably was there as a pioneer making it possible for the industry to take off in the way it did. He established several production companies including New World Cinema, China-Sun Motion Picture Company and – after his younger brother returned to Shanghai – even set up one with tycoon Hysan Lee called the Hong Kong Film Company (Lee was an infamous local tycoon who was assassinated coming out of a social club – I seem to remember Peter Hui’s anecdotal “KING HUI: The Man Who Owned All The Opium In Hong Kong” has some curious details about the incident – but my memory could be failing).

95. Kenneth Tsang (1938 – )

Actually, I recognise Kenneth Tsang from quite a few of the films I watched as a teenager/twenty-something, but like most of these names – by themselves they have very little meaning to me unless accompanied with a picture. The Killer, Police Story 3, A Better Tomorrow, Police Assassins (aka Royal Warriors) and many more were films I managed to watch as a youngster and it seems he was in them all. It wasn’t until I started looking at this that the penny dropped. Such is life.

However, these films were really already towards the later part of a career that started in 1955 - or thereabouts. A career, I hasten to add, that seems to still be in full swing. One of his most recent roles is in Eat Drink Man Woman 2 – a followup to Ang Lee’s original.

96. Sylvia Chang (1953 – )

Speaking of Eat Drink Man Woman, as we just were, Sylvia also happened to be in this as well. However, she was around for quite sometime before Ang Lee asked her to play a part in his film. She started off at the fledgling Golden Harvest – though post-Bruce Lee success – in The Flying Tiger and also had a role in a film called The Yellow Faced Tiger which was originally supposed to be a Bruce Lee film. In the end it starred Wong Tao and Chuck “The Gruffalo” Norris of all people. I also saw her not so long ago in one of her first roles in The Tattooed Dragon starring Wang Yu and Sam Hui.

Chang also had a recurring role as a policewoman in the Aces go Places series (starring Karl Maka #88 and produced by his Cinema City company and directed – two of them anyway- by Eric Tsang #89 – talk about a seriously incestuous industry!!).

Actually, come to think of it she was also in All About Ah Long which I featured recently in the film locations blog. She gets my vote for the star with the nicest eyes :-)

97. Jacky Cheung (1961 – )

There’s a story about Jackie Chan and the reason why he spells his name with an ‘ie’ instead of a ‘y’. Apparently, old JC did use to spell his name Jacky until someone told him that was a girly spelling. JC, of course, is a manly man's man and immediately changed it to Jackie. Is it true? Probably not, but look on many of his early releases in the UK and you’ll find this alternative spelling. Either way no one seems to have told Mr Cheung and he still uses the supposedly ‘girly’ version.

Old Jacky was discovered in a HK singing competition and was launched into a lucrative singing career which has seen him release so many albums he needs 21 different Filipino domestic helpers to keep them free of dust (cuz no one is going to actually play all that rubbish, right?)

Well anyway, like many of his glorified karaoke singing Cantopop mates, JC2 (as I shall call him) is also a dab hand at acting and has put in some pretty good turns including the recent Crossing Hennessey. I first saw him in John Woo’s Bullet in the Head, although his film debut was in 1986 opposite Sammo Hung in Where’s Officer Tuba?

98. Lau Ching Wan (1964 – )

Sean Lau. An immediately recognisable face from a multitude of films I have caught snippets of as I flick from English language to the local Chinese language TV stations. Okay, not the greatest looking chap, I suppose, but that hasn't stopped him from bagging an ex-Miss Hong Kong – Amy Kwok – as his wife (giving hope to all of us ugly people around the globe) – of course he’s loaded with dosh from many years in the industry so I guess that will help a bit.

Lau is another product of the TVB actor treadmill and is another person whose birth place seems to be either Hong Kong or elsewhere in Guangdong depending on what you read. I have to say though that other than Police Story 2, Lau hasn’t really featured in any of the films that made up the bulk of my HK cinematic experience – mainly because he seems to be quite a talented and serious actor (i.e. he doesn't do kung fu). I guess I need to expand my horizons a little.

99. Aaron Kwok Fu Shing (1965 – )

Another Cantopop sensation that made the transition to film. In Kwok’s case he started at TVB as an actor and went into singing later. Although, living in HK, it's hard to not know who Kwok is - his face is one of the more frequently seen ones in papers and TV - I don't think I have managed to see a single film that he has been in. Quite an accomplishment I think.

100. Gong Li (1965 – )

I don’t think she needs too much of an introduction, she’s probably one of the most famous Chinese actresses on the planet and has done enough Hollywood movies to make her fairly recognisable.

Her appearance on the Avenue (or should I say lack of appearance) seems to be a bit strange though. I also raised this point in my Time Out article and hinted that perhaps Mainlanders didn’t like to see an unpatriotic former comrade (she took Singaporean citizenship a couple of years ago) on the floor and may well have subjected the plaque to some less than loving attention. Well, coincidentally a few weeks after that the SCMP ran a small article that seemed to be an attempt by the AoS to quash rumours and stated that actually, her plaque has NEVER been there. Don't believe me? Well, here is that very article :-)

The official blurb states quite clearly that the plaque) is there, but apparently it never was there because they have been waiting for 4 years to get her hand prints!! Come on Avenue of Stars management people, you are full of BS and can do better than that (well, actually, perhaps you can’t...).

I’m astonished on two counts. First, that they have been advertising her for 4 years and still haven’t even put down a plaque (minus the hand prints) with her name on it and, second, that they are so piss poor at sorting stuff out that they still haven’t managed to pin her down and get her hand prints.

101. Leon Lai Ming (1966 – )

Leon Lai has the great honour of being the ONLY Cantopop singer that my wife has ever actually made the effort to see in concert (and she hates it even more than I do) so I think this in itself is praise enough.

Apparently he has the nickname 'Neon Leon' because his shows (like every other Cantopop star’s shows) tend to be a bit OTT in terms of flashing lights, ridiculous costumes, dodgy hairdos and caked on makeup. Epilectics beware, if you attend a Cantopop concert you will be taken away on a stretcher in full-on fit mode GUARANTEED. It’s all smoke and mirrors to cover up the fact that watching people perform Karaoke (albeit on a massive scale) is pretty boring unless either you, or they, are totally drunk.

I didn’t realise Leon is a native Beijinger, I always assumed he was from HK. He won a singing competition in 1985 and was signed to TVB the following year, and so his star began to ascend. Since then he’s release copious amounts of music and starred in over 50 films (although I think I have only managed to see one of them: Cityhunter). In case you didn’t know it he along with the other singing sensations: Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Aaron Kwok, are collectively known as the "4 Heavenly Kings". Hmm...personally I can think of a few other more appropriate nicknames for them but perhaps it's better if I keep my Tourette's Syndrome in check for now.

All in all it just goes to show that your contribution to the HK film industry doesn’t have to be great as long as you have a solid singing career behind you and can get on the Avenue by the mere fact that you are guaranteed to attract swarms of fawning Chinese tourists to the area.

102. Deanie Ip Tak-han (1947 - )

And now we have started with those illustrious artistes who have been added since this post was first published on my Wordpress blog all those moons ago.

Deannie is another one of HK's multi-talented singers/actors (multi = 2) whose place on the Avenue may be down to the fact that she recently won a the best actress award at the 2011 (68th) Venice Film Festival for her role in The Simple Life. I guess her other film awards, won at the HK film Awards over many years, just wasn't enough to tip the balance in her favour? I can remember her for the sole reason that she gets to whack Sammo Hung on the head with a wrench in Dragons Forever.

103. Simon Yam Tat Wah (1955 - )

Another guy who has been in what seems to be almost every film I've ever seen. I seem to remember first seeing him on a jumpy VCD of Dr Lamb back in the early 90's but have seen him as the Chinese bad guy in Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life and the righteous but ultimately crooked cop in S.P.L.

His films are too many to list really, but I guess more recently he is familiar as Donnie Yen's business friend in Ip Man 1 and 2 (the one who goes a bit doolally when he gets to HK).

104. Kara Hui Ying Hung (1960 -)

At last! When I first did this series of posts, and the subsequent Time Out article, Kara Hui was one of the names that I suggested who should have been on the Avenue without any shadow of a doubt. She's a HK icon and is still going strong and was the very original winner of the Hong Kong Film Awards best actress award at the inaugural event in 1982 (for My Young Auntie).

She was associated for a long time with Lau Kar Leung who was her mentor at Shaws and was previously linked to him romantically. I think she should get the award for the person who has changed the least over a 40 year career because she still looks fantastic (must be all that kung fu she do)!

105. Carina Lau Kar-ling (1965 - )

Sadly, despite her obvious talent as an actress, Carina Lau is perhaps more famous in HK due to her kidnapping by triads in 1990. I won't mention any names but the rumours are that it was the same triad boss that kidnapped her who was responsible for getting Eric Tsang beaten up over his remarks concerning Joey Yung. Suffice to say Carina was supposedly in a contract dispute with her management at...Emporer Group. She later (18 years later in fact) admitted that the kidnapping was a punishment for her refusing to make a film for someone. Such was/is the way with the HK film industry.

I have only ever seen her in one film (that I remember) and that was Project A: Part 2 where she played a revolutionary. Although wiki says she was also in Armour of God, I just don't recall her. Sorry Carina...:-(

106. Louis Koo Tin-lok (1970 - )

Louis Koo is familiar to me because he always appears to be so tanned that he seems to glow a sort of orange colour, I suspect given that he was HK's top=-earning actor in 2013 he can afford as much spray on tan as he needs. Like Aaron Kwok, it's hard to escape knowing who he is because he is always in the news or on TV but again, other than perhaps Flashpoint (with Donnie Yen) I haven't really seen any of his films, although JC fans will remember him from Rob-B-Hood (nope, not seen that either).

107. Nicholas Tse Ting-fung (1980 -)

Nicholas is the son of HK legend Patrick Tse Yin - a stalwart of the local film industry since the 1950's. Sadly, his sex-symbol son is perhaps more recognisable courtesy of the Edison Chen photo scandal that gripped HK (and the world) in 2008 - it was his tattooed (and quite hairy...) ex-wife, Cecilia Cheung, that was at the centre of it all. Tse also seems to have a talent for crashing cars and has been in numerous scrapes driving a variety of cars: a Ferrari in 2002, a Toyota Camry in 2003 and an Audi RS4 in 2005. In other words he sounds like a typical HK driver!!

I actually have seen a few films he has been in including Gen-X Cops (which was actually fairly entertaining), New Police Story (he is certainly a better actor than ol' JC) and Dragon Tiger Gate. But of course he has been in many more. Why is he on the Avenue? Beats me, I can think of many more people who should be on here before him, but I don't get to choose.

The End...

At least for now. Until some more people get put up on the Avenue of Stars and it extends even further into East TST. I think that now they have opened up the whole promenade to connect TST with Hung Hom, there is no reason why the Avenue can't just keep slapping those stars down and getting some more worthy people up there (and perhaps adding some quality diversions along the way) but this is HK isn't it and no one with any clout really has any idea how to do things properly, do they?


  1. I loved reading your blog about the avenue of stars. There's just one thing, though. You have Lam Kar Sing at no. 75 and at no. 83. And you may have omitted Grace Chang -- I thought she was at no. 81. But thanks again for all the great info for us ignoramuses.

    1. Hi Irene - you're absolutely correct - many thanks for letting me know. I think this was a mistake I made in the original version of this post and when I reposted here I failed to spot it. All fixed now, so many thanks - perhaps you're not the ignoramus you think you are ;-)
      Cheers, Phil