Chow Yun-fat SBS (born 18 May 1955), previously known as Donald Chow,[1] is a Hong Kong actor. He has collaborated with filmmaker John Woo in five Hong Kong action films: A Better Tomorrow (1986), A Better Tomorrow II (1987), The Killer (1989), Once a Thief (1991) and Hard Boiled (1992), and in the West for his roles as King Mongkut in Anna and the King (1999), Li Mu-bai in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Sao Feng in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007).

Chow Yun-fat

周潤發
Chow Yun-fat in 2007
Born (1955-05-18) May 18, 1955 (age 68)
Other namesDonald Chow
Alma materCity University of Hong Kong
Occupation(s)Actor, singer
Years active1973–present
Spouses
(m. 1983; div. 1983)
Jasmine Tan
(m. 1986)
Parents
  • Chow Yung-Wan (father)
  • Chan Lai-fong (mother)
AwardsFull list
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

He mainly plays in drama films and has won three Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Actor and two Golden Horse Awards for Best Actor in Taiwan. Chow started his career in movies in 1976 with Goldig Films, the third largest film company at the time.[2][3]

Early life and education edit

Chow was born in Lamma Island, Hong Kong, to Chow Yung-wan, who worked on a Shell Oil Company tanker, and Chan Lai-fong, who was a cleaning lady and vegetable farmer.[4][5][6][7] Chow grew up in a farming community on Lamma Island, in a house with no electricity.[8][9][10] He woke up at dawn each morning to help his mother sell herbal jelly and Hakka tea-pudding on the streets; in the afternoons, he went to work in the fields. His family moved to Kowloon when he was ten.

At 17, Chow left school to help support the family by doing odd jobs including a bellboy,[11] postman, camera salesman, and taxi driver.

After college, Chow responded to a newspaper advertisement, and his actor-trainee application was accepted by TVB, the local television station. He signed a three-year contract with the studio and made his acting debut in soap operas that were exported internationally. He made his film debut in 1976 in various movies produced by Goldig Films, including Hot Blood. Goldig Films was founded and self-funded by Gouw Hiap Kian, who was its chairman and managing director and employed other individuals as movie directors.[12] It produced and distributed over 100 movies from 1972 to 1982.[13] Goldig also invested in properties, including a cinema, and financial investments with substantial assets since the 1990s. Chow was identified by Goldig to be an actor before he applied to TVB as a trainee.

Career edit

Chow's first film contract was an exclusive acting contract with Goldig Films.[14] Chow appeared in the 1980 TV series The Bund on TVB. The series, about the rise and fall of a gangster in 1930s Shanghai, was a hit throughout Asia and made Chow a star.

 
Chow Yun-fat at the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End in 2007

Although Chow continued his TV success, his goal was to become a film actor. However, his occasional ventures into low-budget films in the 1980s after ones by Goldig were disastrous.[15] Most of Chow's movies produced by Goldig Films under exclusive contract in the 1970s achieved high gross revenues of over HK$1million per movie. These figures are higher than ones Chow acted in the early 1980s, including Modern Heroes (江湖檔案), Soul Ash (灰靈), The Bund (上海灘), The Bund Part 2 (上海灘續集).[16]

Success finally came when he teamed up with film director John Woo in the 1986 gangster action-melodrama A Better Tomorrow, which swept the box offices in Asia and established Chow and Woo as megastars. A Better Tomorrow won him his first Best Actor award at the Hong Kong Film Awards. It was the highest-grossing film in Hong Kong history at the time, and set a new standard for Hong Kong gangster films. Taking the opportunity, Chow quit TV entirely. With his new image from A Better Tomorrow, he made many more 'gun fu' or 'heroic bloodshed' films, such as A Better Tomorrow II (1987), Prison on Fire (1987), Prison on Fire II (1991), The Killer (1989), A Better Tomorrow 3 (1990), Hard Boiled (1992) and City on Fire (1987), an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.

Chow may be best known for playing honorable tough guys, whether cops or criminals, but he has also starred in comedies like Diary of a Big Man (1988) and Now You See Love, Now You Don't (1992) and romantic blockbusters such as Love in a Fallen City (1984) and An Autumn's Tale (1987), for which he was named Best Actor at the Golden Horse Awards. He brought together his disparate personae in the 1989 film God of Gamblers, directed by the prolific Wong Jing, in which he was by turns a suave charmer, a broad comedian, and an action hero. The film surprised many, became immensely popular, broke Hong Kong's all-time box office record, and spawned a series of gambling films as well as several comic sequels starring Andy Lau and Stephen Chow. The often tough demeanour and youthful appearance of Chow's characters has earned him the nickname "Babyface Killer".

 
Advertisement feat. Chow in 2019

The Los Angeles Times proclaimed Chow Yun-Fat "the coolest actor in the world".[17] In the mid '90s, Chow moved to Hollywood in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to duplicate his success in Asia. His first two films, The Replacement Killers (1998) and The Corruptor (1999), were box office failures. In his next film Anna and the King (1999), Chow teamed up with Jodie Foster, but the film underperformed at the box office. Chow accepted the role of Li Mu-bai in the (2000) film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It became a winner at both the international box office and the Oscars. In 2003, Chow came back to Hollywood and starred in Bulletproof Monk. In 2004, Chow made a surprise cameo in director Dayyan Eng's Chinese rom-com favourite Waiting Alone, it was the first time he was in a mainland Chinese film.[18] In 2006, he teamed up with Gong Li in the film Curse of the Golden Flower, directed by Zhang Yimou.

In 2007, Chow played the pirate captain Sao Feng in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. However, his part was omitted when the movie was shown in mainland China, where, according to Chinese unofficial sources, government censors felt that Chow's character "vilified and humiliated" Chinese people.[19]

In the poorly received[20] film Dragonball Evolution, Chow Yun-fat played Master Roshi.[21]

In 2014, Chow returned to Hong Kong cinema in From Vegas to Macau.[22] For the part, he lost 13 kg within 10 months.[23]

In 2015 and 2016, Chow reprised his role as Ken in the sequels From Vegas to Macau II and From Vegas to Macau III.[24][25]

In 2018, he co-starred with Aaron Kwok in Project Gutenberg which earned him another Best Actor nomination at the 38th Hong Kong Film Awards.[26]

Personal life edit

Chow has been married twice; first was in 1983 to Candice Yu, an actress from Asia Television; the marriage lasted nine months. In 1986, Chow married Singaporean Jasmine Tan. They had a stillborn daughter in 1991. Chow has a goddaughter, Celine Ng, a former child model for Chickeeduck, McDonald's, Toys 'R' Us and other companies.

In 2014, Chow was the second-highest earning actor in Hong Kong, earning HK$170 million (US$21.9 million).  In 2018, Chow’s wife Jasmine Tan informed various Hong Kong media the figure HK$ 5.6b of Chow’s net worth, which was not verified by any third party. Chow also said he would donate 99% of his wealth to charity via setting up a foundation to help those in need.[27] There have been no other reports on who controls the foundation and its ultimate beneficiaries.

Despite his wealth, Chow lives modestly. He is frequently seen at food stalls and on public transportation.[28] In interviews, he has said he plans to leave his fortune to charity.[29]

Chow ran a half marathon in less than 2 hours 30 minutes in November, 2023. [30]

In October 2014, Chow voiced support for students in the Umbrella Movement, a civil rights movement for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.[31][32][33]

Filmography edit

Chow has appeared in over 95 films and over 25 television series.

Bibliography edit

On 26 June 2008, Chow released his first photo collection, which includes pictures taken on the sets of his films. Proceeds from the book's sales were donated to Sichuan earthquake victims. It is published by Louis Vuitton.[34][35]

Awards and nominations edit

Hong Kong Film Awards

(14 Best Actor nominations, two Best Supporting Actor nominations, two Best Original Film Song nominations)

Chinese American Film Festival

University honorary awards edit

References edit

  1. ^ Yang, Jeff (2003). "Frequently Asked Questions and Additional Information". Once Upon a Time in China: A Guide to Hong Kong, Taiwanese, and Mainland Chinese Cinema. New York City: Atria Books. p. 275. ISBN 9780743448178. Retrieved 13 May 2016 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "「協利」,曾經叱咤風雲的獨立製片公司,還是周潤發從影的第一站" (in Chinese (Hong Kong)). Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  3. ^ "1970-1975香港電影本土票房累計大PK,滿滿的都是經典" (in Chinese (Hong Kong)). Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  4. ^ "Chow Yun-Fat". Biography.com. Archived from the original on 15 May 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  5. ^ Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, The (14 May 2018). "Chow Yun-fat". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Yun-Fat Chow Biography (1955-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 23 September 2010.[dead link]
  7. ^ "A man of melodrama: Action films made Chow Slightly-Fat famous, but 'The Corruptor' star says he's an actor". The Kansas City Star. 15 March 1999. p. D4. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
  8. ^ "Honorary Doctor of Letters - Mr CHOW Yun-fat" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 September 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  9. ^ Slotek, Jim. "Martial parts". Jam.canoe.ca. Archived from the original on 27 July 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ "Film chat: Chow Yun-Fat - Chowing the Fat; How Eastern Hero Chow Not-Fat came to hold the West hostage. By Anna Day. (Features) Article from The Mirror (London, England)". 18 April 2003. Archived from the original on 25 August 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2019.[ISBN missing]
  11. ^ Boland, Rory (15 July 2007). "Hong Kong feels like a movie set because it is". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  12. ^ "Goldig Films ----- History". goldigfilms.com.hk. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  13. ^ "Goldig Films - Productions". HKMDB. Archived from the original on 9 June 2021.
  14. ^ "Hong Kong film archive" (PDF). note page 3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 June 2021.
  15. ^ Hughes, Justyn (20 October 2012). "Chow Yun Fat: Profile". Asianmoviespulse.com. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Goldig Films ----- Movies". goldigfilms.com.hk. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  17. ^ Smith, RJ (12 March 1995). "the coolest actor in the world : In This Country, Chow Yun-fat Is Only a Cult Figure. But the Hong Kong Action Star Has a Global Audience That Has Made His Movies International Blockbusters. With China About to Take Back the Crown Colony, He Has His Eye on the United States". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  18. ^ Rojas, Carlos; Chow, Eileen (25 April 2013). The Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas. OUP USA. ISBN 978-0-19-976560-7.
  19. ^ "Chow's 'Pirates' scenes cut in China". Abc.net.au. 17 June 2007.
  20. ^ Nordine, Michael (4 May 2016). "'Dragonball Evolution' Writer Apologizes to Fans for the Poorly Received Film". IndieWire. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  21. ^ Lee, Nathan (10 April 2009). "Possess Glittery Magic Orb, Do Martial Arts, Save World". The New York Times.
  22. ^ "From Vegas to Macau". Yahoo.net.
  23. ^ 張 I, 潔 (25 January 2014). "周潤發公開減肥秘訣 10個月激減13公斤 I". 信息時報. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  24. ^ "Chow Yun Fat, Louis Koo, Chilam Cheung Digging Gold Mines". JayneStars.com. 26 December 2014.
  25. ^ Kerr, Elizabeth (14 February 2016). "'From Vegas to Macau III': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  26. ^ 新浪娱乐 (13 February 2019). "周润发谈获影帝提名:《无双》剧本让我产生触电感|无双|周润发|金像奖_新浪娱乐_新浪网". ent.sina.com.cn. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  27. ^ "56億全捐!發哥霸氣一句話韓網跪了". tw.news.yahoo.com (in Chinese). Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  28. ^ "Chow Yun-fat lives on just $100 a month, will leave entire $714 million fortune to charity". shanghaiist. 15 October 2018. Archived from the original on 14 November 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  29. ^ Martin, Guy (2019). "Chow Yun-Fat's Elegant Moves: Why The Action Star Will Donate His $700 Million Fortune To Charity". Forbes. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  30. ^ "Chow Yun-fat steals show as 8,000 run 'perfect' inaugural Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Half Marathon". South China Morning Post.
  31. ^ "周润发无奈被卷入封杀传闻 并未支持占中--人民网娱乐频道--人民网". ent.people.com.cn. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  32. ^ 狄雨霏 (30 October 2014). "宁愿"少赚点",周润发亦挺"占中"". 纽约时报中文网 (in Chinese). Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  33. ^ "Chow Yun-Fat Speaks Out in Support of Hong Kong Democracy Protestors". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  34. ^ "Crouching Tiger actor launches book for benefit of Chinese earthquake victims". Gmanews.tv. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  35. ^ "PR-inside.com | 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' star Chow Yun-fat publishes photo collection". Archived from the original on 3 December 2011.
  36. ^ Song Il-seop (5 October 2023). "[MD포토] 아시아 영화인상 수상한 주윤발 (부산국제영화제)" [[MD Photo] Chow Yun-Fat, winner of the Asian Film Actor Award (Busan International Film Festival)]. My Daily (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved 5 October 2023.
  37. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 August 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  38. ^ "Honorary Award Holders". City University of Hong Kong.
  39. ^ "Press Release | CPRO - HKBU". Archived from the original on 8 August 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2021.

External links edit