Biography Index / Long Biographies / Main Page


Jacky Cheung

Jacky Cheung has been one of the most popular singer/actors in Hong Kong over the past twenty years. Like most HK "idols", Cheung was in the music business before moving on to acting. Though he is widely considered to have one of the nicest voices in Cantopop, his oncreen work has been met with mixed reviews. Much like the seemingly schizophrenic nature of many Hong Kong movies, Cheung's acting ranges from subtle and touching to over-the-top and annoying -- sometimes in the same movie. Nonetheless, his good roles have outweighed the bad; his acting output has been overall the strongest out of his fellow "Four Sky Kings of Cantopop" (the others bring Leon Lai, Andy Lau and Aaron Kwok), and a still-successful musical career almost guarantees Cheung's presence on Hong Kong movie screens for years to come.

Notable movies: Bullet in the Head, High Risk, A Chinese Ghost Story, Ashes of Time


Jade Leung

Jade Leung, a former model, was hired by producer Dickson Poon, who saw Leung on a commercial and cast her almost immeadiately into the lead role in "Black Cat". The film -- a remake of Luc Besson's "La Femme Nikita" -- was a big hit at the local box office and developed a cult following internationally as well. Poon (and his company D&B Films) was looking for someone to replace the recently-retired Michelle Yeoh as their star in "girls with guns" projects, and so he cast Leung into quite a few movies.

This quick output probably resulted in Leung never attaining major star status. A lot of them, hampered by small budgets and extremely short shooting schedules, simply bombed and have faded into obscurity. By the early 1990's, Hong Kong movie studio's profits started tumbling down, and they moved from more niche projects like female-oriented action films to more populist fare like romantic comedies. With this recession, Leung moved over to the TV side of the HK entertainment circle, and now primarily works on various series while shooting the occasional feature film.

Notable movies: Black Cat, Satin Steel, Flying Dragon Leaping Tiger


Jeff Falcon

Jeff Falcon was active in the "girls with guns" movies that were seemingly cranked out by the boatload by Hong Kong studios during the early 1990's. He definitely had some great talent in the fighting department, but like many "gweilo" (foreign) actors working on HK productions, Falcon was regulated to bit roles for the most part. After the HK production bubble went bust in 1993, Falcon went back to the US. In 1998, he wrote and appeared in "Six String Samurai", a film that caught some critical attention but sharply divided many viewers. Since then, nothing has been heard from Falcon on the entertainment front. There was a rumor going around the early HK film discussion boards such as alt.asian-movies that Falcon committed suicide, but these have thankfully proven to be false.

Notable movies: Blonde Fury, Way of the Lady Boxer, Burning Ambition


Jerry Lamb

With his round face and glasses, Jerry Lamb is one of the more recognizable faces in modern Hong Kong movies. He is a favorite of writer/producer Andrew Lau and appeared in many of Lau's "young Triad" movies (most notably the "Young and Dangerous" series) and computer-fu pictures, such as "A Man Called Hero". Many of these also starred Ekin Cheng, which caused many western fans to think that Lamb was somehow releated to Cheng. Of course, he is not -- though he does have a brother, Jan Lam, who has appeared in a few movies over the past few years. Outside of film, Lamb has become a fixture on Hong Kong's busy television and radio talk show circut.

Notable movies: Young and Dangerous, The Legend of Speed, A Man Called Hero


Jimmy Wang Yu

Jimmy Wang Yu was a champion water polo player before he was recruited by the Shaw Brothers studio. After a couple of SB productions, Wang Yu was picked by director Chang Cheh to star in "The One-Armed Swordsman". The film was a huge hit and Wang Yu's performance provided the template for the "yang gang" (tough males) who would come to personify kung fu movies in the 1970's. After becoming tired of Shaw Brothers' strict system and small paychecks, Wang Yu moved to Taiwan, where he bagan writing, producing and directing his own films. However, by the late 1970's, Wang Yu's work was being overshadowed by that of "true" martial artists, and his output dwindled. During the 1980's, Wang Yu appeared in only the occasional production, and by the 1990's, he retired for the most part from the HK movie world.

Wang Yu's offscreen life has always been of interest to the local tabloid scene. He is known as a notorious womanizer and hard drinker, both of which have gotten Wang Yu into numerous public brawls. There have also been long-standing stories of Wang Yu having ties to the Triad. It is not known to the extent which Wang Yu is involved with them, but he has used his influence to get other stars out of trouble. The most well-known example of this is when Jackie Chan broke his contract with Lo Wei, who then sent Triad thugs after Chan. Supposedly, Wang Yu made a couple of phone calls and Chan was never hassled by Lo ever again.

Notable movies: The One-Armed Swordsman, Master of the Flying Guillotine, The Chinese Boxer


Joey Wong

Joey Wong started her film career in Taiwan when she has seventeen. In 1984, she moved to Hong Kong and appeared in several movies before becoming a bona-fide star with her role in 1987's "A Chinese Ghost Story". Even though she appeared in other genres, Wong became synonymous with the "fantasy ghost love story" films that were popular in Hong Kong during this period, which caused her to be typecast. By the early 1990's, Wong was getting tired of getting offered the same types of roles, as well as the stare of the tabloids surrounding a relationship she had with a married man, and so she got married to another man and retired from the HK movie industry.

Notable movies: A Chinese Ghost Story, The East is Red, God of Gamblers, My Heart is that Eternal Rose


John Salvitti

John Salvitti is an American martial artist from Boston who began working on Hong Kong films after meeting and subsequently training with Donnie Yen's mother. He appeared in several HK productions (most notably "Tiger Cage 2") along with Yen before moving back to the States in 1993, where he starred in a few B-list pictures like "Shootfighter 2". Salvitti made a return to Chinese films with 2002's "Hero", where he assisted Yen in co-ordinating the action sequences, and currently makes his living as the CEO of Strive, an exercise equipment company.

Notable movies: Tiger Cage 2, In the Line of Duty IV, Hero


John Sham (aka John Shum)

Educated in England and the US, John Sham began his entertainment career as a magazine editor before moving on to television and movies in the early 1980's. He was quite prolific during the decade, appearing in dozens of films, where he became well-known for his unkempt look and manic mannerisms. Sham also produced many movies and helped Sammo Hung and Dickson Poon establish the D&B Film Company, which would give birth to the modern "girls with guns" genre with 1986's "Yes Madam". As the popularity of Hong Kong movies waned in the early 1990's, Sham turned his interests to more political things, and has become one of the biggest spokespersons for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and China.

Notable movies: Yes Madam, Pom Pom, Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars


Josephine Siao

Actress, executive, producer, teacher, writer, advocate -- Josephine Siao has been many things in her life. She started acting at the tender age of seven with 1954's "A Child's Tear" and would go on to be one of Hong Kong's most prolific actresses over the next fifty years, despite the fact that she lost hearing in her left ear when she was two and her right ear's ability deteriorated over time.

After developing into a pretty teenager, Siao shot up to mega-stardom in the 1960's as one of the "Seven Cantonese Princesses" of Hong Kong cinema. Unfortunately, most of her work from this period has been lost forever due to poor storage of the original prints. In 1969, Siao took a break from acting and went to America, where she earned a degree in communications. When she returned to Hong Kong, Siao set up their own production company, which was (and still is) no small feat in the male-dominated world of HK movies. Siao not only made her star rise again by appearing in some of her own productions like "Plain Jane to the Rescue" (which was an early hit for a young John Woo), but she also helped out other HK female film-makers get their start, most notably Ann Hui.

By the 1980's, Siao had grown tired of the grind of making movies and shut down her company, instead concentrating on being a wife and mother. But as the 1990's rolled around, Siao once again entered the world of acting and gained acclaim for her roles in Jet Li's "Fong Sai Yuk" and Stephen Chow's "Fist of Fury 1991". Despite her re-kindled stardom, Siao had to retire from acting soon afterward, as her hearing was almost totally gone. Since retiring, Siao has continued to be visible in Hong Kong as an advocate of children's rights (Siao has a master's degree in child psychology) and has written books on etiquitte, as well as hosting a TV show that teaches English.

Notable movies: Fong Sai Yuk, Hiroshima 28, Plain Jane to the Rescue


Josie Ho

Josie Ho was a model and singer before she began dubbing songs in various productions such as "He's a Woman, She's a Man". She soon caught the eye of several producers and quickly moved in front of the camera, where she appeared in several small roles before hitting it big with her starring role in 1999's "Purple Storm". Unlike most young HK actresses who tend to burn bright and die out very quickly, Ho seems to pace herself very well and has been steadily sharpening her craft with a smaller number of roles, most notably as a porn star in 2003's "Naked Ambition", for which she earned a Hong Kong Film Award. Since she has primarily played "butch" roles and now sports a short hairdo, there have been rumors swirling around Ho that she is a lesbian, but these -- like almost anything spouted out by the the HK tabloid press -- have not been substantiated.

Notable movies: Purple Storm, Twins Effect, Naked Ambition


Joyce Godenzi (aka Mina Godenzi)

After winning the Miss Hong Kong pageant in 1986 and being hired by producer Dickson Poon, Joyce Godenzi had a brief career in front of the screen. With her appearances in films like "She Shoots Straight", Godenzi proved she had the looks, acting chops and moves to be one of the top female action stars (though she never had any formal training in either acting or fighting before getting into movies), but she never really attained any sort of stardom in Hong Kong. Some have said that it is because she isn't "fully" Chinese (her father is Austrailian) and other have said it was simply because local audiences had grown tired of "girls with guns" movies. At any rate, she ended up marrying Sammo Hung (Dickson Poon's partner at the D&B Films company) in the early 1990's and now helps him out with various behind-the-scenes duties.

Notable movies: Eastern Condors, She Shoots Straight


Kara Hui

While she was not allowed to train in Peking Opera, Kara Hui picked up a good deal of moves from her brothers, who were all well-versed in the art. As she was performing on the street to earn money, Hui was spotted by legendary "old school" producer/director Lau Kar Leung. Lau, who was then under contract to the Shaw Brothers studio, wanted to use Hui in a series of female-oriented kung fu pictures. The heads of Shaw Brothers weren't keen on the idea of a female lead. But Lau's track record forced their hand, and Hui starred in several productions that are considered classics of the genre, most notably "My Young Auntie", which garnered Hui both a Hong Kong Film Award as well as the nickname "Auntie".

As the popularity of traditional kung fu movies waned in the early 1980's, Hui -- unlike many of her female contemporaries -- made a nearly seamless transition to the high-powered action films which puncutated Hong Kong's output during the decade. Hui was quite popular at this time; she even survived a small scandal revolving around her decision to appear sans clothes in the HK edition of "Playboy". Over the past few years, Hui has slowed down her output, but she still makes the occasional appearance in high-profile productions such as "Infernal Affairs II".

Notable movies: Dirty Ho, The Inspector Wears Skirts, Infernal Affairs II


Karen Mok

Karen Mok is one of Hong Kong's most versatile actresses, appearing in virtually every genre, from action to comedy to serious dramas. This might be in part due to her heritage, which is a mix of Chinese, Persian, Welsh and German and her education in both Hong Kong and England. After graduating from college, Mok spent a couple of years in Italy, where she began a singing career, which got her foot in the door in the HK entertainment circle.

Her good looks and ability to speak multiple languages (including Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Italian and Japanese) quickly made her a favorite of producers. She appeared in several productions starting in 1994, and with her appearance in Stephen Chow's "A Chinese Odyssey" (and subsequent off-screen relationship with him), Mok became a huge star, both with Chinese and Western fans.

One of the keys to Mok's continued success is her willingness to go all-out in her roles, even adopting unflattering makeup as she did with "God of Cookery", and her unwavering honesty off-screen -- she is one of the few actresses who can always be counted on for giving a relevant quote, especially when it comes to the way the Hong Kong film industry treats young actresses. Of course, earning a few Hong Kong Film Award nominations along the way (and winning, like she did with her work in Wong Kar-Wai's "Fallen Angels") doesn't hurt.

Notable movies: God of Cookery, King of Comedy, So Close


Karen Sheperd (aka Karen Shepard)

Even though Karen Sheperd only appeared in one Hong Kong production, it was quite a doozy. Her fight against Cynthia Rothrock in 1986's "Righting Wrongs" is regarded by many fans as one of the best scenes in any "girls with guns" movie before or since. Before appearing in movies, Sheperd was a world-class martial artist, and became the first woman to win the US Open World Karate Championship. After her brief stint in Hong Kong, Shepherd moved back to the US, where she attained cult star status with her work on the TV series "Hercules" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". She has also been inducted into "Black Belt" magazine's Hall of Fame, as well as attaining several lifetime achievement awards from various organizations from all over the world.

Notable movies: Righting Wrongs


Karena Lam

A native of Canada, Karena Lam moved to Taiwan to pursue a singing career after graduating from high school. Even though her first couple of albums were successful, Lam soon ran into trouble when she tried jumping ship to another record company. The resulting lawsuit banned her from making any musical recordings for four years. Lam turned this looming dead-end into an opportunity and switched to acting, where she found almost immeadiate success with her work in "July Rhapsody", which garnered her a Hong Kong Film Award. Even though she has not yet developed into a full-blown star, Lam continues to work steadily in a variety of genres in Hong Kong productions.

Notable movies: Inner Senses, Heroic Duo, July Rhapsody


Karl Maka

With his chrome dome and goatee, Karl Maka is one of the most recognizable faces in Hong Kong movies. He was born on the Mainland and moved with his family to Hong Kong when he was sixteen. Upon graduating high school, he moved to New York City to attend college and briefly worked as an engineer for a phone company in New Jersey before moving back to Hong Kong in the early 1970's. Maka wanted to work in the film industry, but he didn't exactly have the "look" of a traditional star, and so he worked behind the camera as director. He quickly became known for his style which at once payed homage to kung fu movies while still having fun with the genre.

After getting his foot in the door, Maka started appearing on-screen, where he rode the wave of popularity of "nonsense comedies" that was brought on by the film of the Hui brothers. In 1980, Maka (along with Raymond Wong and Dean Shek) formed the Cinema City studio. One of their first productions, "Aces Go Places", was a huge hit and Maka's role as the brash detective King Kong made him an icon of modern Hong Kong comedies. Cinema City proved to be one of the most influential studios of the early 1980's, giving directors such as John Woo, Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam some early hits in their career. But by the 1990's, the studio had fallen on hard times, and Maka left the film business to concentrate on investing in real estate.

Notable movies: Aces Go Places, Skinny Tiger Fatty Dragon, Prison on Fire


Kelly Chen (aka Kelly Chan)

Kelly Chen is a native of New York City who got her start in the HK entertainment business after going to a production company to try and earn some money while on vacation. A producer liked the way Chen looked -- a cross between Faye Wong and Brigitte Lin -- and she was cast into a beer commercial. Soon after, Chen recorded her first album. The record was not that popular in Hong Kong (a lot of Chinese people didn't like her US-influenced accent), but it quickly rose up the charts in Japan, and so film roles soon followed. Since then, Chen has appeared in a fairly steady stream of Hong Kong movies and recording new albums.

Notable movies: Breaking News, Infernal Affairs, Tokyo Raiders


Kelly Lam (aka Kelly Lin)

Kelly Lam is a Taiwanese model who was "discovered" by prolific producer/director Wong Jing, who is someone always on the lookout for the next "it" girl. She has not appeared in too many films, but continues to be very popular with both Chinese and Western fans -- especially young men -- due to her "racy" pictorials in various "men's magazines" like FHM and Maxim (which recently voted her one of the top 10 sexiest Chinese actresses).

Notable movies: Conmen in Vegas, Fulltime Killer, The Legend of Zu


Kelvin Wong

If you were a producer in Hong Kong during the late 1980's-early 1990's and neeed a villain, chances are that Kelvin Wong's name would be on the short list. He appeared in a good number of productions during this time, but is best known for his role as the nasty "Doctor" in Jet Li's "High Risk". After getting tired of being typecast in Hong Kong productions, Wong moved to Taiwan, where he found success in a variety of genres on the small screen.

Notable movies: High Risk, Her Vengeance, Police Story 3: Supercop


Ken Lo (aka Kenneth Low)

Ken Lo was born in Cambodia and moved to Thailand when the Vietnam War made that country too dangerous to live in. While there, he began practicing Muay Thai kickboxing, which seemed a perfect for Lo, given his tall frame. Lo eventually moved to Hong Kong and won the World Kickboxing Championship. His appearance garnered the attention of producer/director Tsui Hark, and Lo made his screen debut with 1985's "Working Class". Even though Lo was impressive on-screen, he didn't much like working with Tsui, and so he left the film business and became a bouncer at a popular Hong Kong nightclub.

While working one night, Lo was spotted by Danny Lee. Even though Lo was soured on working in movies, he appreciated Lee's no-nonsense attitude, and so he agreed to appear in some of Lee's productions. During the filming of "Naughty Boys", Jackie Chan (who was one of the producers) came to visit the set and was so impressed by Lo's skills that Chan asked him to be his bodyguard.

As Lo was protecting Chan off-screen, he also appeared in a good number of Jackie's films. Most notably, Lo faced off with Chan in the climatic showdown of "Drunken Master II". Even though the scene took months to film and is regarded as one of the best on-screen fights of all time, Lo was only put into the movie after the actor originally chosen for the role failed to pass Jackie's rigorous on-set tests.

Even though he almost always portrays a villain, Lo is regarded as one of the nicest people working in Hong Kong movies. He's known as someone who is always willing to help out a friend, which probably explains his appearance in a number of ultra low-budget productions over the years. Lo has also appeared in a few English-language productions, such as Steven Segal's "Into the Sun".

Notable movies: Drunken Master II, City Hunter, Dragon Reloaded

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