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Lam Wai (aka David Lam)

David Lam Wai was one of "those guys you always recognize but can never name" in 1980's Hong Kong cinema, especially in heroic bloodshed and wuxia films, where he often had villanious roles. After appearing in many small roles in the late 1970's and early 1980's, his big break seemed to come with a starring role in 1985's "Long Arm of the Law".

However, for some reason, Lam's star never seemed to rise beyond that of supporting actor. He's continued to work steadily over the years (even producing a couple of films) but they have gotten decidely more low-budget as time has gone on, with entries like "Black Mask Vs. Gambling Mastermind" (2002) rounding out the latter part of his resume.

Notable movies: Long Arm of the Law, A Chinese Ghost Story, Royal Warriors


Liu Wai Hung

A supporting player often used for his comedic talents, Liu appeared in about two dozen productions during the 1980's. His roles were usually very small, but were memorable due to his very large smile. After the downturn of the HK movie industry in the early 1990's, Liu left the film world for the most part, appearing in only a handful of pictures since then.

Notable movies: The Iceman Cometh, Road Warriors


Lo Lieh

Hailing from Indonesia, Lo Lieh appeared in about two dozen films before becoming a star with 1972's "King Boxer" (aka "Five Fingers of Death"), which was the first kung fu movie to receive a wide international release. He never rose to super-star status, probably because of Bruce Lee's films that came out soon after, which instilled Lee as the icon of the genre, and caused many of Lo's films to not be promoted to international audiences.

Nevertheless, Lo continued to work tirelessly, and appeared in dozens upon dozens of films over his long career. He became a fan favorite, mostly due to his strong villanious performances in films such as "Chinese Boxer" and "The Magic Blade". During the 1980's, Lo shifted to becoming more of a supporting actor and broadened his resume, working in almost every genre from action to horror to comedy, all of which he displayed a flair for.

Due to his advancing age and failing health, Lo began cutting back his tremendous workload in the 1990's, but continued to work steadily until his death from a heart attack in November 2002, ironically just as many of his best Shaw Brothers films were set to be re-released on remastered DVDs.

Notable movies: King Boxer, Supercop, Glass Tears


Loletta Lee (aka Loretta Lee, Rachel Lee)

Known for her spunky, upbeat attitude, Loletta Lee began her career as a model. When she was 17, she was hired by the Cinema City studio, who wanted to tap the growing teenage girl market, who were growing tired of the kung fu and action films Hong Kong production companies favored at this time. Her debut was in 1984's "Merry Christmas".

Though she never became a major star, Lee has appeared in a good number of films over the next decade and a half. That in of itself is a rarity in the HK movie industry, where actresses often retire after a few years. As the 80's went on, Lee wanted to shed her "teenybopper" image, and so appeared in more adult films, until going all the way with 1993's "Crazy Love", a Category III movie where she appeared nude.

Bucking the trend of "once in Cat III, always in Cat III", Lee (after taking some time off in the late 90's) moved back to the world of mainstream movies, and won a Tawainese Golden Horse award for her work in "Ordinary Heroes" (1999). After this, family (in a husband and child) seems to have become Lee's main priority, and she now appears in only one or two films per year, but still retains a dedicated fan base.

Notable movies: Off Track, Pom Pom and Hot Hot, Sexy and Dangerous


Louis Koo

Born in 1970, Louis Koo's career was almost over before it started, with a conviction for theft in 1990 that sent him to prison for almost two years. Upon his release, Koo turned his life around, and by 1994, he landed his first movie role in "Organized Crime and Triad Bureau". His early work didn't hold much promise -- he was clearly skating by on his looks -- but Koo continued to work on his craft.

With 1999's "Bullets Over Summer", Koo proved he was a serious actor, and producers responded by putting him in high-budget productions. Over the past several years, Koo has turned into one of Hong Kong's most reliable and popular actors. He's become most well-known for his appearances in comedies like "Fantasia", but he's also appeared in several gritty crime dramas like "Election".

Notable movies: Bullets Over Summer, Legend of Zu, Rob-B-Hood


Lowell Lo

Though he is much better known as a composer, having worked on almost 100 films since his debut with 1985's "Infatuation", Lowell Lo has appeared in about two dozen movies during his career. The roles were usually on films that he also scored, and he tends to play nervous or nebbishy characters, like his work in "Pedicab Driver", where he plays Sammo Hung's cowardly friend.

Notable movies: Magnificent Warriors, Pedicab Driver, Happy Together


Lung Fong (aka Jimmy Lung Fong, Jimmy Lee)

Jimmy Lung Fong seemed destined to become a major player in the Hong Kong movie industry. He appeared in many kung fu films during the 1970's, and began doing action direction (the next step to becoming a full director) during the latter part of the decade. However, in 1981, he left Hong Kong for America. It is not known exactly why Lung left, but there is a rumor that he had a business dispute with Lo Wei, a producer/director with well-known Triad connections.

Whatever the reason, he returned to Hong Kong in 1989 with "Casino Raiders", which established Lung as one of the go-to guys if you needed a viilain in your production. It was a perfect fit for Lung with his slicked-back hair and tough-guy looks. He worked steadily over the next decade, appearing alongside major stars like Chow Yun-Fat, but again dropped off of the radar in 2000 with his last credited film, "Fist Power".

Notable movies: God of Gamblers, Casino Raiders, The Longest Nite


Lydia Shum

Lydia Shum, known for her large frame, huge glasses, and loud voice, is one of Hong Kong's most enduring entertainers. She began her career in 1960 at the tender age of 12 with a role in "When the Peach Blossoms Bloom", which she got via an open casting call at the Shaw Brothers studio. At first, her father objected to her acting, but soon changed his mind after the paychecks began rolling in.

After dropping out of school, Shum worked stadily over the next two decades, where she became one of Hong Kong's most popular actresses. Her success is all that more notable because she is the opposite of the rail-thin and demure actresses producers prefer to put into movies. But audiences responded to Shum, seeing in her a part of the "real" Hong Kong many other actresses didn't represent.

In the 1980's, Shum became a fixture on televison as well, after becoming the host of "Enjoy Yourself Tonight", an enormously popular variety show that would go on to last for twenty-three seasons. During this time, she also appeared in movies, though her roles were usually limited to small bits of comedic relief.

Like many in Hong Kong, Shum was worried about the 1997 Chinese takeover, and so gained dual citizenship in Canada. She has now semi-retired to there, where she spends her time with her daughter. Shum still occasionally returns to Hong Kong to host television specials like the Hong Kong Film Awards and take the odd acting gig.

Notable movies: The House of 72 Tenants, Drunken Tai Chi, Millionaire's Express


Ma Tuk-Chung (aka Joe Ma)

A former police officer, Joe Ma went into modeling as a way to pay the bills. This led to some commercial work, which in turn led to a contract with TVB (a Hong Kong TV network) in 1995. TVB at this time was losing a lot of its' stars due to contract disputes, and so Ma quickly found himself starring in multiple series per year.

Like most TV stars, Ma made the transition to movies with a starring role in 1998's "Raped by an Angel 2", where he played a serial rapist -- quite the opposite from his former day job. Most of his film roles (which were often low-budget expolitation flicks) would have him either as a smarmy villian or as a by-the-book cop. Tired of being typecast, Ma went back to TVB in 2003 and hasn't done a movie since.

Notable movies: Raped by an Angel 2, Young and Dangerous 5, Body Weapon


Maggie Cheung Ho-Yee

Like the "other" Maggie Cheung, Cheung Ho-Yee was educated in England and participated in the Miss Hong Kong pageant. She actally acted a bit (most notably in "A Better Tomorrow III") before she was in the pageant, but it was her appearance in it that convinced TVB producers to give her a contract, and she has been one of their most popular stars ever since. Her popularity on the network is so high that they are reluctant to lend her out to movie productions, so she has only appeared in a handful of films, and often only in small roles.

Notable movies: A Better Tomorrow III, Gorgeous, Headlines


Maggie Q (aka Maggie Quigley)

A Canadian native, Maggie Q came to Hong Kong to become a model after failing to make it big in Japan and Taiwan. Her unique good looks made her a hit with the local crowd (it didn't hurt that she was dating then rising star Daniel Wu) and she soon found work on TV. In 2000, she starred in her first movie "Gen-Y Cops", which became a cult hit, and got her an international fan base.

The buzz continued with her role in 2002's "Naked Weapon", a role in which she not only demonstrated her prowess in action scenes, but also created quite a stir locally for her semi-nude love scene with (now ex-boyfriend) Daniel Wu. Since then, Maggie has divided her time between Hong Kong and western productions, appearing in high-profile US movies like "Mission: Impossible III" and "Live Free or Die Hard", and her stardom looks to only be getting bigger.

Notable movies: Gen-Y Cops, Naked Weapon, Live Free or Die Hard


Manfred Wong

Manfred Wong is best known as (along with Wong Jing and Andrew Lau) one of the heads of BoB Film Company, the organization responisble for putting out a lot of Hong Kong's recent "pop" movie hits, such as the "Young and Dangerous" series. But during his nearly twenty-five years in the movie industry, he has worn almost every hat possible, also doing some directing, acting, and writing.

In fact, it was actually his writing that got his foot in the door. During college, Wong penned articles for a popular magazine called Music Week. His work there led him to start writing scripts for RTV (a television network), which in turn opened the doors for film work with 1980's "Encore". Over the next decade, he began to extend his film work to directing, but soon found his true passion was producing.

However, after several productions that did not fare well at the box office, Wong found himself in dire financial straits and considered leaving the film industry. Manfred had become friends with writer/producer/director Wong Jing over the years, and so Jing suggested that they form BoB, which turned his fortunes around almost immediately. Since then, Manfred has remained near the top of the Hong Kong movie chain, and now has enough money that he was able to open his own comic book store.

Notable movies: Saint of Gamblers, The Sixty Million Dollar Man, Pom Pom


Mang Hoi (aka Meng Hoi)

Mang Hoi, known for his graceful on-screen moves, was a mainstay in 1980's action movies, having worked on many of the classics of the genre. Though he is not a big star, Mang is well-regarded by die-hard Hong Kong movie fans as both as an action director (he was once a key member of Sammo Hung's "stunt team") and an actor (he received a Hong Kong Film Award for his work in "Yes Madam"). And don't let his somewhat goofy looks fool you -- Mang is apparently quite the ladies' man and has dated several stars, including Cynthia Rothrock. With the slowdown in the Hong Kong movie industry over the past few years (especially for action films), Mang has now retired for the most part, only appearing occasionaly in roles to help out his friends.

Notable movies: Yes Madam, Ah Kam, Pedicab Driver


Maria Cordero

Maria Cordero most often has small roles in movies, usually as a mother (or mother figure) who's tough but has a heart of gold. She is better known in Hong Kong as a singer, where her blues-influenced music with lyrics that often speak about the hardships of life stand apart from the squeaky-clean Cantopop most artists of the area produce. The grittiness of her music has found them used in several "heroic bloodshed" movies, most notably "City on Fire", where she makes a cameo and performs one of her songs in a nightclub scene.

Notable movies: City on Fire, Aces Go Places 5, Tiger on the Beat 2


Mark Cheng

Mark Cheng was groomed by the Cinema City studio to become one of their big leading men in the 1980's, but audiences never seemed to take him seriously as a hero, perhaps due to his stern facial features. As the 1990's rolled around, he did find some measure of success in the world of Category III films, but most people will know Cheng from his many appearances in "girls with guns" pictures.

Perhaps part of the reason that Cheng was featured in so many of these movies was the fact that he was married to Yukari Oshima, who was one of the icons of the genre. At any rate, even after the style lost favor with audiences, Cheng still found steady work -- there's always a need for a good villain in Hong Kong movies. Over the past few years, Cheng has reduced his output, spending most of his time in his adopted homeland of Malaysia.

Notable movies: Peking Opera Blues, Raped by an Angel, Young and Dangerous 5


Mark Houghton

Originally from England, Mark Houghton was part of the wave of gweilo (foreign) actors that populated Hong Kong action pictures during the 1980's. However, unlike many of his contemporaries, Houghton came to Hong Kong not to become a movie star, but to study hung gar kung fu with Lau Kar-Leung. Houghton became one of Lau's favorite students, and so when studios came to Lau asking if he could recommend any foreigners to put into movies, Mark's name was at the top of the list.

Houghton's roles were mostly always small ones as evil henchmen, and he never attained star status. But his work on sets so impressed the people in the industry that he became the first non-Chinese person allowed to join the Hong Kong Stuntmen Association. Houghton also began to take film-making more seriously, because he (like Lau) viewed it as a way to promote martial arts, and in 1995, he formed his own production company. Though the kung fu movie industry is now a shell of its' former self, Houghton remains in Hong Kong, where he (along with Lau family members) runs a hung gar school.

Notable movies: Aces Go Places V, Drunken Master II, Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon


Mars (aka Feng Sing)

Born as Feng Shing, Mars was a Peking Opera performer as a child. Like many opera participants, he also did film work in order to support his school. After graduating in the early 1970's, Mars became known as one of the best stuntmen in the business, and began doing action direction by the end of the decade.

During this time, he met Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, and would go on to appear in many of their productions in the 1980's, especially those of Jackie, who made Mars the head of his Stuntman Team. As the Hong Kong film industry waned in the 1990's, Mars also slowed his output, but he still does pop up from time to time in productions, both in front of the camera and behind it.

Notable movies: Knockabout, Project A, Police Story


Max Mok (aka Benny Mok)

Max Mok made his debut with 1983's "The Enchantress" and has been working steadily in the industry ever since. He's appeared in everything from A-list pictures like the "Once Upon a Time in China" series to low-budget entries like "Heart of Killer", and just about every type of movie. But for whatever reason, Mok has never become a full-fledged star. His looks are good enough, and his films shows that he has a flair for martial arts, but Mok never caught on with audiences in Hong Kong. Probably for that reason, most of his work over the past several years has been on Mainland TV shows, where he may have finally found his niche.

Notable movies: Eastern Condors, Pedicab Driver, Once Upon a Time in China II


Melvin Wong

A CBC (Canadian-born Chinese), Melvin Wong earned a pharmacy degree from the University of California and was set to go down that career path, until a pretty actress on a TVB show caught his eye. Wong decided to put pharmacology on hold and went to Hong Kong, where -- lo and behold -- he soon found himself getting steady work as an actor. Though he has played all sorts of roles in many genres throughout his career, Wong is best known for playing villains in movies like "Righting Wrongs", where his slicked-back hair, thin mustache, and expertise in wing chun made him a perfect fit.

In the mid-1990's, Wong grew tired of the grind of the movie industry, and so he headed to London, where he earned a law degree. Upon returning to Hong Kong in 1997, he has appeared in only a handful of films in the past decade, instead concentrating more on his new career as a lawyer.

Notable movies: Righting Wrongs, Eastern Condors, The Blonde Fury


Michael Chan

Michael Chan grew up on the mean streets of the New Territories and at a young age, he joined the Triads. As a teenager, he began studying martial arts, but then turned to kickboxing, because he thought it would be much more practical in a real fight. Chan put his skills to use outside the ring (there was a story published in local papers where he supposedly took on thirteen men and won), but his coaches convinced him to apply them inside of the ring as well. Chan began kickboxing professionally and became the Southeast Asian Champion.

During this time, he became friends with Bruce Lee, who introduced him to a producer that wanted to put Chan into kung fu movies. Chan accepted, and has been working in the industry ever since, in a career that has spanned thirty-five years and doesn't look to be ending any time soon. Almost always cast as a villain (espcially in Triad movies), Chan brings a surprising amount of depth to his roles, which has made him a fan favorite.

Notable movies: The Club, Legacy of Rage, Project A II

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