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Corey Yuen

Corey Yuen is regarded as one of one of the world's premier action directors. He recieved his training at Master Jim Yuen's prestigious Peking Opera School and performed as one of the "Seven Little Fortunes" along with other soon-to-be major stars like Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. Like many other opera performers, Yuen also worked on movies as a stuntman.

After a few years, Yuen moved on to acting, and then action direction with the classic "Drunken Master", which cemeneted him at the top of Hong Kong's directorial pool. Yuen's trademark high-flying over-the-top style transitioned perfectly from the death of the "old school" of the 1970's to the "wire fu" craze of the 1980's, and Yuen had his had in dozens of productions during the decade, some of which he also appeared on-screen, usually as a villain who chomped on a cigarrette even while fighting.

In 1985, Yuen traveled to the US to work on the Jean-Claude Van Damme picture "No Retreat No Surrender", which (for better or worse) paved the way for the exodus of HK actors/directors to the States that occurred in the 1990's after local box office takes went down the tubes. Yuen did not forget where he got his start, though, and came back to Hong Kong soon after, where he directed "Yes Madam", which is credited as the beginnings of the "girls with guns" genre. In recent years, Yuen has been dividing his time between the US and Hong Kong, where he continues to find success in various high-profile productions.

Notable movies: Yes Madam, Eastern Condors, She Shoots Straight, Enter the Eagles, High Risk, Drunken Master


Cynthia Khan (aka Yeung Lai-Ching)

Trained as a ballet dancer, Cynthia Khan became an actress in her native Taiwan after her dance career failed to get started. She was spotted by HK producer Dickson Poon, who was looking to replace Michelle Yeoh in the popular "Yes Madam"/"In the Line of Duty" films. Poon changed Khan's birth name of Yeung Lai-Ching to try and capitalize on the success of the stars of "Yes Madam", Michelle Yeoh (who was going by the name of Michelle Khan at the time) and Cynthia Rothrock, and it worked. Khan became one of the fixtures of the "girls with guns" genre, and also branched off into "wu xia" (fantasy swordsplay) pictures as well. After the bust of Hong Kong film's golden age's bubble in the early 1990's, Khan moved back to Taiwan, where she became a popular TV actress.

Notable movies: In the Line of Duty III, Tiger Cage 2, Madam City Hunter


Damian Lau

After appearing in John Woo's "Last Hurrah of Chivalry", Damian Lau became one of the mainstays of the the fantasy swordsplay movies that were so popular in Hong Kong during the 1980's. After the box office bubble burst in the early 1990's, Lau began diversifying his portfolio by appearing in comedies and dramas.

Notable movies: Duel to the Death, Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, Heroic Trio


Daniel Wu

A native of San Francisco, Daniel Wu went to Hong Kong after graduating college with a degree in architecture. In order to make some cash, Wu began to work as a model. His work caught the attention of an art director, and Wu was cast in his first movie, "Bishonen". With his good looks (and positive P.R. due to his dating of fellow model Maggie Q), Wu became a hot commodity in the HK film world. His first few roles, such as "Gen-X Cops", did not win him too many fans among "serious" viewers and critics due to a lack of Cantonese fluency. But Wu surprised many with his performance in "Purple Storm", and has since become known as one of the strongest young actors working in HK today, with a couple of Hong Kong Film Award nominations under his belt. Off-screen, he has also worked on television with a "Jackass"-style prank/stunt show called "Chiseen", and has formed a band named Alive with fellow actors Terence Yin and Andrew Lin.

Notable movies: Cop on a Mission, Enter the Phoenix, Purple Storm, Naked Weapon, One Nite in Mongkok, New Police Story


David Chiang

Film-making must certainly be in David Chiang's blood -- his parents, Yim Dut and Hong Wei, were popular Mandarin actors, and his brothers Paul Chun Pui and Derek Yee found success in the movie world as well. Chiang got his start in the world of Peking Opera, where he directed many productions. One of these caught the eye of legendary director Chang Cheh, who brought Chiang to work at the Shaw Brothers studio in the late 1960's.

Chiang starred in over thirty movies directed by Chang and often he was paired with Ti Lung. Because of the violent nature of their work together, Chaing and Ti were known as the "Blood Brothers" and appeared in a number of classic kung fu pictures in the early 1970's. After the death of Bruce Lee (and kung fu movies in general) in 1973, Chiang began appearing in comedies and dramas, as well as becoming a producer and director, even going so far as to form his own prodution company with fellow old school star Jimmy Wang Yu.

Chiang remained active as a behind-the-scenes player though the '80's and '90's, while still appearing in small roles in movies. Now considered one of the true legends of Hong Kong cinema, Chiang has mostly retired from the film scene, though he can still be seen popping up from time to time in new releases.

Notable movies: The Anonymous Heroes, Yes Madam, Once Upon a Time in China II


Dayo Wong

Dayo Wong is a popular stand-up comedian and TV talk show host with a degree in philosophy. His movie career began in the early 1990's as a scriptwriter, before moving on to acting, where he often provides comic relief in more serious dramas. In recent years, Wong has also begun directing films, but his manic style has failed to find much success so far.

Notable movies: Legend of the Wolf, Big Bullet, Thunderbolt


Dean Shek Tin

Dean Shek was a contract player for the Shaw Brothers studio during the 1960's and '70's and appeared in many kung fu films, where he usually sported an ugly, hairy mole on his face while playing the weaselly suck-up right-hand-man of the movie's main villain. In 1980, Shek (along with Karl Maka and Raymond Wong) formed the Cinema City studio, which produced many influential productions, most notably the popular "Aces Go Places" comedies. However, the studio's bank was broken by financing several high-budget flops, and by the mid-1980's, Shek was nearly flat broke. Producer/director Tsui Hark (who had gotten support from Cinema City early in his career) cast Shek in the mega-hit "A Better Tomorrow II", and the picture's success allowed Shek to get back on his feet. Shek appeared in a few roles afterwards, but was growing tired of the grind of the film industry, and so, he retired in 1991 after working on "The Raid".

Notable movies: A Better Tomorrow II, Drunken Master, Aces Go Places


Derek Yee

One of the most multi-talented people working in Hong Kong, Derek Yee has lent his talents to dozens of productions since the 1970's as an actor, writer, producer, cinematographer and (probably most notably) as a director. Yee is the brother of fellow actors Paul Chun Pui and David Chiang, and found some success in that realm, but it was not until he stepped behind the camera with 1986's "The Lunatics" that Yee became a major player in the HK film world. Since then, Yee has become known as one of the most versatile directors in Hong Kong, moving between action, comedies and dramas with ease. Yee has recieved a number of awards for his directorial efforts, most recently a 2004 Hong Kong Film Award for "One Nite in Mongkok".

Notable movies: Magnificent Warriors, Seventh Curse, One Nite in Mongkok


Dick Wei

There are some actors who play tough guys, and there are some tough guys who just happen to be actors. Dick Wei definitely falls into the latter category. After a stint in the Taiwanese army (where he attained the rank of captain), Wei decided to head to Hong Kong and try his luck at the acting game. He was almost immediately signed by the Shaw Brothers studio, where -- in stark contrast to his off-screen persona -- he was often cast as a very nasty villain. During his time at Shaw Brothers, he became friends with Sammo Hung and moved on to appearing in Hung's productions after Shaw Brothers' output reduced to a trickle in the late 1970's. During Hong Kong cinema's "golden age", Wei was a staple of the popular "girls with guns" movies, often working on several productions at one time. By the 1990's, Wei had also directed a couple of projects, but the downturn of HK studios' fortunes hastened his retirement.

Notable movies: Wild Search, Once a Thief, Peking Opera Blues, Story of Woo Viet


Dicky Cheung

Most western viewers -- this one included -- can only scratch their heads when it comes to Dicky Cheung's popularity. Even though gweilos view his on-screen antics as spastic and annoying, Cheung has been (and continues) to be a highly successful TV actor. His paychecks and endorsement cash would make most US stars jealous, which thankfully insures that Cheung only makes the occassional appearance on the "jade screen".

Notable movies: Golden Chicken 2, Chez N Ham, Last Hero in China


Dodo Cheng (aka Carol Cheng)

Carol "Dodo" Cheng's father, Sai Gwa Pao, was a popular Mandarin actor, and little Dodo followed in dad's footsteps. She began her career with appearances on dramas on two of the big networks in Hong Kong, RTV and TVB. In 1978, Cheng appeared with a young Chow Yun-Fat in a series called "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", which was a huge success. Chow and Cheng re-teamed with another series, 1980's "Brothers".

The series propelled Cheng into film roles, with 1982's "The Last Affair" -- which, perhaps not coincidentally, also featured Chow Yun-Fat. During the next decade, Cheng found success with "chuppie" (Chinese young urban professional) comedies and recieved several awards for her work. After the HK production recession of the early 1990's, Cheng moved back to TV, where she remains a fixture to this day.

Notable movies: Armour of God II: Operation Condor, Tiger Cage, Het Fatal Way


Eason Chan

Eason Chan was an student studying architecture when he decided to enter a singing contest in 1995. Chan won, and parlayed the prize into a film and musical career. His first few performances on-screen were a bit rough around the edges (to say the least), but Chan has since developed into a solid actor. In 2005, Chan had a banner year on both sides of the entertainment circle. He got both a Hong Kong Film Award nomination through his work on "Love Battlefield" and his new CD garnered a sizeable mention in the Asian version of Time as one of "The Five Asian Albums Worth Buying".

Notable movies: Enter the Phoenix, Love Battlefield, Naked Ambition


Eddy Ko Hung

Eddy Ko Hung was one of the hardest-working actors during Hong Kong's kung fu era of the 1970's, where he often played a villain. It was not until John Woo's bloody 1986 "heroic bloodshed" picture "Heroes Shed No Tears" -- a modern re-telling of the popular Japanese "Lone Wolf and Cub" movies -- that Hung achieved iconic status with many Hong Kong movie fans. With his flat-top, goatee, and icy stare, Hung portrays an image of both toughness and sympathy, which has made him a favorite of "new wave" directors like Johnnie To.

Notable movies: Heroes Shed No Tears, The Bride with White Hair, The Mission


Edison Chen

A native of Vancouver, Edison Chen is one of the biggest personalities working in Hong Kong today, with many hit songs and movies under his belt. All this is much to the chargin of Chen's critics, who claim he only attained his status on the top of HK's food chain becuase his uncle is an executive at EEG, one of the biggest production companies in Hong Kong.

And after seeing Chen's work in early roles like "Gen-Y Cops" -- where he comes off like one of those guys who hangs out at the local mall's food court while trying to act like a "gangsta" -- one might tend to agree. But, to his credit, Chen has taken films more seriously with his last few projects (especially with his work on "Dog Bite Dog") and may one day actually turn out to be a good actor. Let's just hope he refrains about doing any more songs where he raps about "kickin' yo ass like Robocop" (an actual lyric from his theme to "Gen-Y Cops").

Notable movies: Dog Bite Dog, Jiang Hu, Infernal Affairs II


Elaine Lui

Elaine Lui was a staple of the "girls with guns" genre, which is fairly ironic, since she noted on the documentary "Deadly China Dolls" that she hated doing action scenes. Even before GWG movies had lost their luster with audiences, Lui -- sick of being typecast -- left the industry in the early 1990's and has never looked back. Nevertheless, her appearances in movies like "Angel" helped to make the once niche films into a bona-fide industry, whose products continue to win over fans to this day.

Notable movies: Angel, Stone Age Warriors, The Bride with White Hair


Ellen Chan

Ellen Chan began her film career innocently enough, with small roles in action/comedies like "Aces Go Places 5". But her career took a dramatic turn in the 1990's, when she started appearing in a series of Category III films. Even though, with her "bad girl" looks, she seemed like a perfect fit for these types of movies (her work in "The Eternal Evil of Asia" is an undeniable classic of the genre), Chan hated playing the vixen. After an interview where she blasted producer/director Wong Jing for using a "casting couch" to find actresses for his productions, she was shunned by most people in the HK movie industry, and her roles in more recent films have been few and far between.

Notable movies: The Eternal Evil of Asia, Aces Go Places 5, Inspector Wears Skirts


Emil Chow

Emil Chow is a hugely popular singer in Asia. Though he has appeared a number of films, his roles are often limited to cameos in his buddies' movies, like his turn as the ice cream guy in Jackie Chan's "Rumble in the Bronx".

Notable movies: Project S, Rumble in the Bronx, Purple Storm


Emily Chu

Emily Chu had a fairly short career in Hong Kong movies after moving there from her native California in the early 1980's. She is best known for playing Kit's (Leslie Cheung) wife in the first two "A Better Tomorrow" films. After her work there, Chu shifted to appearing in ghost/horror movies, but never found much success, and left the industry in the early 1990's.

Notable movies: A Better Tomorrow, A Better Tomorrow II, Rouge


Eric Kot

Eric Kot got his start performing with Jan Lam as "The Soft Core Kids". The comedy/musical troupe was popular with HK audiences, and the "kids" parlayed this into film appearances, most notably Jackie Chan's "City Hunter". Encouraged by prolific producer/director Wong Jing, Kot broke off on his own. In a pretty shameless attempt to try and piggyback on the success of Stephen Chow, Kot (under the guidance of Wong) went so far as to reprise some of Chow's previous roles, such as with his turn in "Saint of Gamblers". His manic antics were popular with some in the local audience, but most everyone else found Kot downright annoying. Kot seemed destined for B-list status until his turn in the quirky cult favorite "You Shoot, I Shoot". Since then, Kot has turned down things a notch, and has begun to win fans from all over the world.

Notable movies: You Shoot I Shoot, Saint of Gamblers, Fantasia, City Hunter


Eric Tsang

I don't exactly know why I like Eric Tsang, but I just do. Sure, when I was a HK movie neophyte, his antics were often annoying to the nth-degree, but now his voice -- which brings to my my mind an image of a guy smoking too many cigarettes and chugging a bit of whisky after taking a hit of helium -- is a welcome sound.

Surprisingly, given his build, Tsang was apparently quite the soccer player in his youth and began his long stint in the HK movie business as a stuntman. Soon after, though, Tsang realized that taking bumps wasn't his forte and moved behind the camera. After a few small roles as a stuntman, Tsang moved on to directing, where he struggled for a few years before hitting gold with his work on some of the installments on the classic "Aces Go Places" series. After this, he decided to be an actor and made a ton of money after appearing in dozens of movies -- you can play that "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game, but subsitute Eric with much the same results.

The ubiquitous Tsang was in just about every classic (and many not-so-classic) pictures produced during the "golden age" of the mid-1980's to early 1990's. Usually, Tsang played some sort of nebbishy loudmouth -- something which always annoyed gweilo fans, but guaranteed his inclusion in most of the major productions of the time. Tsang parlayed his paychecks wisely, and became one of Hong Kong's top producers in the 1990's.

When the bottom fell out of the HK film industry, he was one of the few stars that stayed afloat, but never used this to his advantage. This came in handy during an incident a few years ago, where Tsang was thrashed by a group of Triads after a mah jong game went wrong. Apparently, it's a no-no to talk crap about the local dai lo's girl while winning his money.

Normally, assoctation with the underworld spells death in the image-concious world of Hong Kong movies, but almost every major star, from Jackie Chan to Andy Lau, rallied by Tsang's side. Since then, Tsang has seemingly left his comedic roots behind, instead portraying characters at the end of their reign, which has garened him attention from critics from all corners of the world.

Notable movies: Colour of the Loyalty, Infernal Affairs, Armour of God, Millionaire's Express, Gen-X Cops

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