A Random Selection of Sites on my Favourite Actor
You may already be a fan of Hong Kong's "heroic bloodshed" films. You may be a longtime fan of Hong Kong dramas and comedies. Or you may only know Chow Yun-Fat from his American films, in Anna and the King, The Replacement Killers and The Corruptor. If you've been exposed to Chow Yun-Fat at all, you probably already know what I mean: CYF is Coolness Incarnate. If, on the other hand, you haven't heard of Chow Yun-Fat, there will be plenty to learn here. (But one thing first: his last name is Chow, his first name Yun-Fat. By convention, Chinese family names are written first.) A talented actor, with the ability to shine in any genre and kind of role, Chow Yun-Fat is also charismatic and righteous in his real life, so far as any fan can tell. For more details of CYF's inescapable genius, read on!
CYF spiffed up to receive yet another award ... Pic courtesy of Gordon Chan.
This site is divided into sections. Check out:
God of Actors:
My Favourite CYF Sites
Books, HK Film Articles & Sites Relevant to CYF (The HK film links), and Other CYF Fan Pages.
Where to find out about CYF's every move;
Where to buy CYF movies; and
Site Awards and Media Mentions.
CYF Movie Reviews: The complete filmography, with links, plus reviews and pix. (Also available without frames).
The World is Read: A news archive for CYF. Links to on-line articles and interviews. [Updated only to 12/99.]
God of the Tube: Some comments, titles, and pix from CYF's early career on Hong Kong television.
This site will no longer be updated as of 1/2000. Unfortunately, the time pressures involved in finishing my Ph.D. seriously get in the way of my life as a fawning CYF cybergeek.
However, English-language CYF fans are way more visible and prevalent than they used to be, so there are plenty of other resources. Meanwhile ... enjoy the memories! For really up-to-date news of HK film in general and CYF in particular, check out the sites below.
Upcoming Projects in Development or Production [as of Summer 2k]
Included here: King's Ransom, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Battle of Ono. If you're looking for already released films, try my CYF Movies page.
This project has been on the books for years, but it just never seems to materialize. Acclaimed director John Woo signed on in '96 to direct King's Ransom (Cant:"Wong Dei Siok Gum"), and shortly announced it would be produced by Chris Godsick and Terence Chang and star Chow Yun-Fat. [Pause for applause.] The original hype described KR as an action/comedy with a projected budget of US$80m.
Since then, however, the script has been through endless re-writes, and endless attempts to sign a (white male) co-star for CYF. In an interview with the HK press in August 1997, Woo said he'd like Nicholas Cage to team up with Chow ... Cage expressed an interest but apparently his plans to film Superman took precedence. (And thanks to Kamman Chow and Gordon for passing on news of KR!)
The plot?Apparently, early versions of the script for KR were based on an original screenplay by Larry O'Neil (ominously absent from the IMDb) Rumour suggested that CYF would play one of two thief brothers in a love triangle -- forcing us all to consider the possibility that John Woo is obsessed by his Once a Thief plot-line. However, in interviews at the time, Woo said that KR would be a homage to The Thomas Crowne Affair, starring Steve McQueen -- more subtle than Once a Thief, and less zany. In an SCMP article in 1997, it was emphasised that Woo wanted to make a "a lower-budget, more-character-driven drama" than his Hollywood action fests to date.
This sounds like a great plan ... but Woo's current project, M:I2, has dragged on and on, and meanwhile another version of THE THOMAS CROWNE AFFAIR is coming to the big screen, starring Pierce Brosnan. One June '99 rumour at AICN suggested the whole project had been canned, but that rumour was quickly contested. Nothing seems certain, except that it's not going to reach local theatres any time soon.
Note: There is a small KR page at the IMDb.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
What a dream project -- CYF stars opposite Michelle Yeoh, directed by Ang Lee, with action scenes by Yuen Woo-Ping. This is a martial arts flick in the tradition of classics like New Dragon Inn, apparently, and has totally wowed Western critics (blown away by the wire-fu) from its debut at Cannes last year. The official website is online at crouchingtiger.com, but requires a special Flash 4 application for viewing. (And thanks to Michael Moen, KO, Storm Chen, Steve, and John Charles for circulating news of the Ang Lee development!) Very early articles on CTHD may be found in the May and June media pages; there are some more recent articles, I was noticing recently, at the Mr. Showbiz site. In addition, there is a stunningly gorgeous set of CTHD pix at Daniel Wang's Action Web site: photos of CYF et al from the Singapore premiere of CTHD, plus promo pix.
Notes re the dates: It's already opened in Asia; it may or may not be showing @ the Toronto Film Fest in September; it is scheduled to close the NY film fest in October; Dec 8 it is apparently to show in New York and Los Angeles; followed by a reasonably widespread Christmas release (Thanks Kie!).
The Battle of Ono
According to the original articles posted in Wolverine's News of The Week, P.J. Pesce was to direct Chow Yun-Fat in The Battle of Ono (Cantonese: "Wa Gung Huet Lui Si"; Lit: "Chinese Worker Blood Tear History"). However, filming for TBoO has now been delayed indefinitely, mostly (according to a Terence Chang article in the HK press) b/c the studios don't think the anti-racist themes of the story would "sell". A pox on their craven bean-counting, I say.
At any rate, CYF signed the contract for The Battle of Ono in mid-May, 1997. It's the film King Hu (Wu Kam Chuen) was preparing before he passed away in January 1997. John Woo and Terence Chang have apparently signed on as executive producers, with Midge Sanford and Sarah Pillsbury as the less-exalted no-title producers. Goldcrest Films International apparently has the rights to the overseas distribution of the film.
A search of the IMDB database reveals that director P.J. Pesce is currently working on From Dusk Till Dawn, the QT/RR sequel. His previous films include Rolling Thunder (1995), The Desparate Trail (1994) and Body Waves (1992). I hear that The Desparate Trail, though released directly to cable, was called "The best Western on any size screen since UNFORGIVEN" by Entertainment Weekly; this sounds like a good sign.
Further details re TBoO were kindly excerpted by Frank Djeng from the Hollywood Reporter, and posted to alt.asian-movies this summer. The flick, described as an 'Eastern Western' is to have a US$16M budget; the screenplay was written by David Henry Hwang and Gary Tiesche. Chow's character, 'Lum,' is a young radical who escapes from his native China to come to work on the California railroads, with an ambition to mine gold. He is forced to battle racial prejudice, greed and injustice before he can make his mark in America. (I couldn't find anything in the IMDb on screen-writer Gary Tiesche, but fellow writer David Henry Hwang wrote the successful play, and then the screen-play, for M.Butterfly. The 1993 film version, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jeremy Irons, received mixed reviews -- again, we can but hope.)
Other News of the Near Future
Now that I'm no longer updating the page, you'll need to check out the HK Top 10 and other HK gossip sites for the real scoop, nb!
In August 1997, the HK press asked CYF and Woo about their opinions on good Mark Gors for the 1990s. For an American remake, Woo said he thought Brad Pitt would be good (?!?); CYF agreed with the latter choice (!?!) and said he'd pick Jordon Chan for an HK remake.
In other unfounded gossip, last year I received an anonymous tip (I feel like CSIS here) that Quentin Tarantino's company, A Band Apart, has prepared a script for Chow Yun-Fat and is keeping it under lock and key while negotiations occur. However, given QT's May '98 gratuitous public attack on CYF I think we can assume that this fell through.
Rumoured Projects and (Remote) Possibilities
Several perennial rumours mention an American release of The Killer. The rights to an American Killer are apparently held by director Walter Hill: in his August Action Status, This film shows no signs of materialising, however. CYF himself said he would be reluctant to do an American Killer, in his 1996 interview with Giant Robot.
Hardboiled II? In a July 6, 1996 interview with John Woo, in Seattle, Andrew Villone asked Woo about rumours of a sequel to Hardboiled in the US. He replied, "Yes, yes. All I can say is that it's a sequel to Hardboiled, that Chow Yun-Fat plays the same character, Tequila, and he's going to do a job in America and he meets an American killer." Whoohoo! With any luck this film will make it to the screen one day!
How did I find out all this stuff? Check out my where to find out about CYF's latest moves and movies section.
CYF's Life and Films
Divided into subsections: The Life of CYF, and Biographical Sites.
The Life and Times of Chow Yun-Fat
Chow Yun-Fat was born on the 18th of May in 1955, on the small island of Lamma off of Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour. His family moved to Hong Kong itself in 1965. Chow Yun-Fat identifies two childhood influences on his dramatic life: the Cantonese Opera, at yearly festivals in honour of the Goddess of the Sea, and American movies, under the patronage of one of his mother's employers.
CYF as Hui Man-Keung: the role that brought him fame and glory. This pic from T.P.'s "My Favorite HK Stars' Homepage" (now sadly off-line). CYF's break into showbiz occured in 1973, when he answered a newspaper ad for young actors by TVB (the Hong Kong TV station controlled by the legendary Shaw Brothers). He was accepted and enrolled in their actor's training programme, along with real life buddy Ringo Lam. Under TVB's aegis, CYF performed in several soap operas.
A list of CYF's shows with TVB, the television studio which provided Chow Yun-Fat with his training and with early success and glory, is given on my separate Chow Yun-Fat: God of the Tube page. This page goes into some detail about the plot & casting, and contains a few hilarious pix of CYF in the 1970s and early 1980s.
An early TV star in series like Hotel, in the early 1980s CYF won lasting popularity and fame as the ultra-cool gangster Hui Man-Keung, in the TVB series Shanghai Beach (a.k.a. Shanghai Grand, a.k.a. The Bund). According to one description, the streets of Shanghai emptied during the broadcasts of this series, which has since been re-made many times.
CYF played a lead role in a movie as early as 1976, in the coyly-named film Massage Girls. His first critical success as an actor, however, was only five years later, in the 1981 film The Story of Woo Viet, directed by Ann Hui On-Wah. This dramatic success was followed by a period of personal and occupational uncertainty: CYF's flicks in the early 1980s were on the whole poorly-received by critics and movie-goers alike. At around this time, Chow Yun-Fat also experienced a number of personal problems, and a short-lived, tumultuous marriage with Candice Yu On-On, a television star from TVB's rival (now ATV).
His turnaround began in the mid-1980s. In 1985, he received a Golden Horse (Best Actor) from Taiwan, and another Best Actor from the Asian Pacific Film Festival for his performance in director Leung Po-Chi's marvelous movie Hong Kong 1941. But this success was soon overshadowed by another, even more dramatic. In 1986 the little-known director John Woo, best known for his slapstick kung fu comedies (like Plain Jane to the Rescue), cast CYF as Mark Gor in the gangster movie A Better Tomorrow. The film was wildly successful, propelling both Woo and Chow into the limelight of the action-movie genre.
By 1995, when he filmed his last of Hong Kong movies, Peace Hotel, Chow had appeared in an amazing 71 movies. His plethora of awards from this period includes Best Actor twice from Taiwan (1985, for Hong Kong 1941, and 1987, for An Autumn's Tale), and three times from Hong Kong (1987, for A Better Tomorrow; 1988, for City on Fire, and 1990, for All about Ah Long). Ironically, in the West Chow's success as an action star, and his association with Woo (known to Westerners only for his action movies) have now virtually overshadowed Chow Yun-Fat's dramatic and comedic abilities. Some Western fans of A Better Tomorrow and Hardboiled will be surprised to experience CYF's virtuousity in drama and comedy roles.
Chow Yun-Fat is known and admired by fans all over the world: not just in Hong Kong and North America, but all over Asia and Europe as well. In fact, I received mail one year chiding me for not mentioning these other fans, and informing me that CYF was titled the best movie gunslinger in Japan, at some point. (According to ChinaStar, CYF won the 30th Best Actor Award in the Asia Film Show, and the Best Outstanding Actor Award of Asia from America Film Association and Korea.)
Chow Yun-Fat now commutes between the United States and Hong Kong, along with his wife, Jasmine.
Compiled from several sources: the old Made in Hong Kong site; Hong Kong Cinema; the Internet Movie Database; the Richard Corliss interview for TIME International; the Mr. Showbiz entertainment database; an interview entitled "Eat My Bullet", by Beth Accomando for Issue #6 of Giant Robot; Bullet in the Web (now alarmingly offline); and Wolverine's Weekly News Update (which is posted in alt.asian-movies. Oh, and alt.asian-movies, of course.
Filmography at Hong Kong Cinema: cast and crew information, along with informative and helpful reviews.
Filmography at Movie World Hong Kong.
Sad, inadequate, and sometimes inaccurate filmography at the IMDb.
Partial filmography (though with a couple of pix I hadn't seen before) at Eastern Heroes. (And thanks to Darryl Amaki for the URL!)
My own, naturally brilliant, annotated filmography for CYF: information on the directors with whom CYF worked, and movie reviews, pix and links.
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My Favourite CYF sites:
I moved the links to interviews and articles to the newly-expanded CYF media site -- go here. Remaining in this section are: Books, HK Film Articles & Sites Relevant to CYF, and Other CYF Fan Pages.
For locating articles and interviews on CYF or relevant to him I relied heavily on the Media Page formerly available at Bullet in the Web (now alarmingly offline) on the Hong Kong Cinema Articles page, and on the Hong Kong Movie Homepage Info page (not responding as of 7/99).
Alphabetically by title: Asian Cult Cinema, City On Fire: Hong Kong Cinema, Eastern Standard Time, Hong Kong Action Cinema, Hong Kong Cinema; The Extra Dimensions, and Sex and Zen and a Bullet in the Head.
Note: Also recommended to me, but which I haven't yet read: (1) Fredric Dannen and Barry Long, Hong Kong Babylon: An Insider's Guide to the Hollywood of the East (Faber and Faber, 1997); (2) Ralph Umard, Filme Ohne Fesseln (1996; apparently an English translation is coming out soon); (3) Lee Server, Asian Pop Cinema: Bombay to Tokyo (Chronicle Books).
Asian Cult Cinema, by Thomas Weisser (Boulevard Books, 1997). ACC is the latest edition of Asian Trash Cinema: The Book (1992) and Asian Trash Cinema: The Book (Part 2) (1995), both reprinted in this, one volume, under a new title. I heartily recommend this book to all fans. ACC features filmographies for both directors and stars, black and white photos that pepper the text,photos of each "major player" that help with the identification of sundry directors and celebritie, as well as the best coverage I've seen yet of the 80s to the present (Weisser reviews 38 CYF films). There are a few drawbacks. The cast lists are filled with errors (for example, the star of PoF2 is identified as Tony Leung Chiu-Wai); and the reviews themselves tend to underrate the dramas, and dramatic movies, relative to the action and trash films. In general, though, ACC is well worth reading. A sample of the reviews from ACC are excerpted on my CYF Movie Reviews page.
City on Fire: Hong Kong Cinema, by Michael Hoover and Lisa Stokes. This is my current fave HK cinema book, for just one reason: unlike most film books, which focus on descriptions of the films and/or film criticism, CoF is all about political and social analysis. An economic history of the HK film industry; detailed commentary on handover angst in HK film (too detailed, some say!); more quotations from Marx than you can shake a stick at -- this book has all the usual chapters on Woo et al, but instead of writing about the camerawork and the acting, this book is about the politics and the social implications. Very neat reading, if you're at all interested in social analysis; even where I thought their write-up was totally off-base, the book still made me think about the films in a new way. However, like the Teo book, it may not appeal to casual fans. (Unlike the Teo book however, the authors are very pro-CYF -- hence the title, and the pic from ABT on the cover. Whoohoo!)
Eastern Standard Time, by Jeff Yang, Dina Gan, Terry Hong, and the staff of A. Magazine (Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997). EST is a guide to Asian influences on life in the USA -- self-labelled "slick, informative, and entertaining," but relatively accurately so. Its thirteen pages on HK cinema and stars are well worth reading -- though the half page section on CYF will be familiar ground to most fans. (And thanks to Lisa Stokes for drawing my attention to EST's CYF section!)
Hong Kong Action Cinema, by Bey Logan (Overlook Press, 1996). A well-written and beautiful book, with plenty of great colour and black and white pix and reviews; worth buying for both beginners and veterans of HK films. Logan's book begins with the Shaw Brothers in the 1970s, and continues through to the 1990s. In his chapter on Heroic Blooshed, Logan focusses on Woo, Lam and others (and thereby on CYF). In addition to reviewing 18 of CYF's films (mostly the heroic bloodshed type), HKAC contains many attractive colour pictures from these movies. Logan also gives a one page summary of Chow Yun-Fat's career, entitled "All the (Eastern) World's A Stage" and awards him the title of "China's greatest living actor" (p. 180). A pic of CYF from Full Contact appears on the cover.
Hong Kong Cinema; The Extra Dimensions, by Stephen Teo (British Film Institute, 1997). This relentlessly academic but interesting and well-written book covers HK film at length from the 1930s through the present day. If you're interested in historical detail and comfortable with the academic style of film criticism (Teo describes his approach as auteurist/formalist) you'll appreciate this book. However, it is likely to annoy casual fans: he is dismissive of many well-loved commercial classics (Wong Jing earns hardly a mention here) and scathing of many others. One of many examples (re OAT): "Woo shows that his label as an exuberant, over-the-top director is really a pretext for extravagant stylistic unevenness encompassing wild swings in dramatic moods" (p. 180). Blasphemy!
Contains comments on or reviews of dozens of CYF films, but needless to say there are no pictures.
Sex and Zen and a Bullet in the Head, by Stefan Hammond and Mike Wilkins (Fireside Books, 1996). This irreverent, fast-paced gloss on Hong Kong film has been panned by many fans, mostly for their film reviews (deemed too detailed, and thus too likely to give away the plot). While I agree with this criticism, I appreciated the authors' habit of associating cast names with characters (I have referred to them many times), and I thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed writing style (exemplified by the extensive lists of humourous subtitles which pepper the book). Contains many black and white pix of CYF, along with chapters on Ringo Lam and John Woo. Reviews cover ten of the better-known Chow Yun-Fat movies.
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HK film Articles and Sites Relevant to CYF
The HK Film Industry Articles & Sites:
Site: Ryan's Hong Kong Movie Database: The best source of English-language info on HK films. Includes extensive cast & crew info, awesome image archives, and reviews.
Site: Hong Kong Cinema, is no longer updated, but has filmographies and reviews for anyone and everyone in HK film until the late 90s. [Site temporarily offline as of 8/00 but allegedly plans to reopen at hkmovieguide.org.
Site:Learn how to draw common Chinese characters at Ocrat, a cool educational site with a special section for Hong Kong movie titles and star names, like Chow Yun-Fat!
Selected members of the HK film industry (!): From left to right, Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, and John Woo. Thanks to William Liao for courteously permitting me to repost this beautiful pic from his site, now sadly offline.
Other Great CYF fan pages
These sites are listed not just because they exist (c.f. the 150+ on Quest's links) but because they are well-designed, comprehensive, exceptionally attractive, or contain rare CYF gems. Either that or because the author specifically asked me to put up a link...
Roughly in alphabetical order...
The Mr. Showbiz Chow Yun-Fat page (formerly CelebSite). There's not a lot there, however (an occasional news story).
Dan Century has a CYF links site, featuring over links to over 100 Chow pages.
David Lee's awesome CYF: The Coolest Actor in the World page. In addition to his impressive mastery of animated .gifs and web gadgets in general, Dave shows off nifty collections of CYF sounds, excerpts from the script of TRK, and other phenomena worth a look.
Eddie's impressive Hong Kong Heroes page. Contains a CYF site, including news, movie reviews, archived articles, and pix, as well as pages for TRK and TC.
The FanSites page for CYF: nothing particularly exciting (a few links), but I like their whimsical birthday countdown feature (you can see how many days left till CYF's birthday).
Gen 13's Chow Yun-Fat fan page (not responding as of 8/7/99). Contains a brief bio and relatively large set of pics.
Jeff Koga, best known for Bullet in the Web (now alarmingly offline), a John Woo fan site, also has created "Fistful of Bullets"(also, I'm hoping temporarily, offline), a small CYF page at chowyunfat.com. Whoohoo!
J.T.'s neat CYF site, Chow Yun-Fat's Palace. Home of the CYF web ring, this site has a really cool design and lots of goodies for the Chow fan.
Kevin's Chow Yun-Fat Realvideo Interview Archive -- RV clips of CYF's appearance on the Tonight Show and Vibe when he was promoting TRK, etc. An extremely satisfying site.
Hardaway's CYF fan page -- pretty neat design and look; one-line reviews of some CYF films, plus a medium-sized photo gallery. Many of those pix look awfully familiar, though.
Leigh Melton has a mindblowingly cool CYF fan site, Free Man in Hong Kong. The image gallery is to die for -- never have I seen so many gorgeous CYF pix, from so many different movies. Go Leigh Go!
Luke Styer's CYF DVD site has useful comments on the quality of various DVD releases, plus capsule reviews of the films.
Mousse Lee's Chow Yun-Fat page, one of the first set up on the web, contains a large # of images for The Killer and HardBoiled.
Chow Yun-Fat: King of Cool, a fan site at Peace Hotel. Not much text, but some neat CYF pix.
Wilson's Chow Yun Fat Page: miscellaneous pix and links, plus capsule reviews of several CYF movies.
The HK fanzine Zine on Fire has a really neat CYF section called Chow Yun-Fat Theatre, which includes .mov files from Hardboiled, The Killer, and Full Contact... Happy browsing!
And then, of course, there's I'm a Regular Chow Yun Fan, by Lori Matsumoto. Her analysis of the source of CYF's charm was quoted in the Times International (5/6/96) article "Chow, Baby" by Richard Corliss.
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Where Can I Find Out About CYF's Latest Moves and Movies?
Newsgroups: alt.asian-movies (Recommended, but often the source of wild rumours) and alt.fan.chow-yun-fat (of course!).
A moderated forum, the Asian Cinema Discussion Board, at Mobius' Home Video Forum; more civility than the usenet groups, and less spam.
Wolverine's Weekly News Update (which is archived at the The Hong Kong Film Top Ten Box Office Home Page, but posted in alt.asian-movies too). Indispensable.
MC4's HK Movie News and Rumor and Sanney's Hong Kong Entertainment Review both offer English updates of recent HK entertainment news.
Fan news pages (aside from mine): Many people seem not to be updating lately. However, check out Eddie's HKH Chow Yun-Fat news; Jeff Koga's CYF and John Woo News page at Bullet in the Web (now alarmingly offline); and Daniel Wang's Action Status (John Woo, Tsui Hark, and CYF news).
The Hong Kong Standard daily Entertainment section and the South China Morning Post. Hong Kong's two major English-language papers both give interesting updates on HK entertainment, sometimes including nifty information on Chow Yun-Fat.
You can write to CYF himself, care of his Hollywood agents, William Morris Agency. (Of course, if he replies, I would like to hear about it!). The address is Chow Yun-Fat , c/o William Morris Agency, 1325 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10019-4701, USA. (And thanks to David Lee and Dan Century for making the information available!)
You can also write to the "Friends of CYF" address. As R.T. was cool enough to let me know, after a long delay after he'd written to them, he finally received an autographed, personalised 3x5" pic of CYF (though, sadly, no info on joining the club -- that may really be defunct). The address, which I snaffled from Sex and Zen and A Bullet in the Head (p. 44), is Chow Yun-Fat International Friends Club, Ltd. / P.O. Box 71288 / Kowloon Central / Hong Kong. Who knows whether it will work again, but it may be worth a shot. (And many thanks to R.T. for the awesome news!)
Finally, now that CYF is in Hollywood, one can sometimes find tidbits in the Hollywood gossip sites. By far the most useful, in that regard, are Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool News, Matthew Drudge's infamous Drudge Report, and Dark Horizons. (And thanks to P. Barr for making it clear to me that I should add these links...).
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Where to Buy CYF Movies
You can also check out my CYF Movie Reviews pages (frames and non-frames) for more details on specific films. This section includes: Selling My Soul, A Word of Advice, Re-Releases, Cameos, Stores Near You, Chinatowns, Tai Seng, Other Web Dealerships.
Selling My Soul... Back in '98, it surprised me to be contacted by web video dealerships, asking me to link to them in "affiliation" programmes whereby I'd get a commission on purchases that had clicked-through from my site. By now (in Dec 99) this has happened to me several times -- Reel.com and BigStar.com (now apparently defunct), plus the auction site E-Bay, have separately sent me e-mail inviting me to 'affiliate' with them. In exchange for displaying an advertising button or banner on this site, I'd receive a commission on every 'click-through' purchase. I've turned down all the offers, though I did add them to the Other Web Dealerships section). I think it's fascinating that fan pages would be invited into these kinds of commercial relationships. Who knows how many fan sites out there have already been contaminated by the grasping tentacles of big business?
A word of advice: Buying Hong Kong movies is more complicated than it might seem. Novices might not know that multiple versions of the same movie are sold by different distributors. Some versions will have certain scenes cut out; others will vary as to whether they are letterboxed, subtitled, dubbed, or whatever. Blockbuster Video, for example, is reputed to sell extremely censored versions of HK movies, with a lot of the violent action cut out. Many, many video dealerships sell bootlegged copies of the movies--even camcorder recordings of the movie, taken by someone in the theatre, with audience sounds and sights (flying popcorn) mixed in. So caution is advisable--it's always best to try to watch the version you intended to buy before purchasing it. Ponder whether the dealership you intend to buy from has a return policy.
Re-releases Now that CYF has become more popular, some of his old films have been re-released by Arena Video / Hong Kong Connection under misleading titles and box covers. These are widely available and relatively cheap, but likely to dismay people expecting quality film.
Beware of the following titles: Hong Kong Corruptor, which is *not a CYF movie, it's the Simon Yam/Alan Tam movie Return Engagement, with 2 totally unrelated scenes from CYF's Code of Honour edited in; Killers Two, which claims to be a sequel to John Woo's The Killer but is really The Executioner, a pointless 1981 flick; Hardboiled Killer, which gives a plot description as if it's a remake of The Killer, but really is the inane cop comedy Police Sir; Hong Kong Specialist, which features CYF as a stuntman -- the mediocre film Blood Money (and a special warning -- the subtitles are off-screen through the whole ARENA version of this film); and Shanghai Killers, which is the hilariously-bad flick Goodbye, My Friend. Arena has also re-released "The Story of Woo Viet", under the title God of Killers -- this is actually a good film: a dark, gritty drama which won CYF his first acting awards. But this particular release is a pretty bad transfer, with subtitles that fall off the screen, etc. (These films are reviewed in more detail on my CYF movies page.)
Cameo Alert! Novices may also be taken in by cool-sounding titles allegedly starring Chow Yun-Fat, in which he only played a cameo role. Beware of the following titles in particular: Cherry Blossoms (a bit part); Code of Honour, a.k.a. Brotherhood (a cameo role); Goodbye, Hero (a montage of scenes from earlier films packaged as a new flick); and The Romancing Star II (a cameo role). You should also be cautious when seeking out the sequel to God of Gamblers. There is a sequel starring Chow Yun-Fat, which is normally God of Gambler's Return, but which is also known under the title God of Gamblers 2. However, God of Gamblers 2 can also be an alternate title for Stephen Chow Sing-Chi's flick Saint of Gamblers, featuring the same character, so check the cast list carefully. There are also two "God of Gamblers 3", neither starring Chow Yun-Fat: God of Gamblers 3: Back to Shanghai, starring Stephen Chow again, and God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage, starring Leon Lai Ming. GoG3: TES is also known as Young God of Gamblers. Wong Jing directed all of these movies: IMHO Young GoG is the only non-CYF one worth tracking down; the two with Chow Sing-Chi are fun but nothing special. A third "God of Gamblers 3", this one starring John Lone, is scheduled to be released by Charles Heung next year.
Finding stores in your neighbourhood: Lars Erik Holmquist had a list of HK movie shops around the world (not responding as of 7/99), which has been transferred to the stewardship of Timo Kokkonen. Also, a more up-to-date list of North American stores is available from John R. Meixner. (Here in Montreal, I have been able to buy films at HMV: a subtitled but pan-and-scan copy of The Killer (~=C$20); a subtitled and letterbox copy of Hard-Boiled (~=C$17); and a dubbed, pan-and-scan version of A Better Tomorrow (~=C$30). I have also been able to rent films at Wah Fung, in China town (on the east side of St. Laurent south of Rene-Levesque). In Toronto, I bought the five Arena films from the Towers store at Yonge & Queen (C$80 for the 5); I know they also carry some of the Woo flicks. For other city-by-city breakdowns, you might try asking on alt.asian-movies. I have also heard that the American Suncoast chain stocks CYF movies, but of them I know relatively little.
Chinatowns. Chinatowns are of course a great source of CYF films, but there are several problems, if you're a typical clueless foreigner. One of the most serious is that most HK films are exclusively sold as VCDs or DVDs. If you're looking for videotapes, you're likely out of luck, though you may find a rental place. (HK videotapes are also a different format, PAL, than North American NTSC, but usually local Chinatowns are renting VHS, if at all.) A more minor problem: you can't just go in and ask for "Chow Yun-Fat" or a film like "A Better Tomorrow" because "Chow Yun-Fat" has to be pronounced tonally to be recognizable to Chinese speakers, and because the Chinese title of ABT is nothing like ABT, so they'll have no idea what you mean. It would be like going into a Blockbuster and asking for "Ying Hung Boon Sik" (which *is* the Cantonese title of ABT). Anyways, your best bet is to bring a print-out of the title in Chinese characters. I put together a list of CYF's film titles in Chinese here.
Tai Seng: Tai Seng is the place to buy CYF movies on the internet, if you care about supporting legitimacy. At $40 US a shot, they're not for the slim-of-wallet, but they are the company that makes CYF movies available in North America. I myself have purchased the Chow Yun-Fat box set (Full Contact, Prison on Fire 2, and ABT3) from their web page, as well as several other movies through client stores (esp. the AnimeCrash outlet in Boston). The Tai-Seng Canadian subsidiary, Bravo Communications, has no web site; snail info for Bravo is given at the Tai Seng site.
Other web dealerships: World Vision is the other big supplier of Hong Kong films; I have heard they are ok. Most legitimate North American dealers re-sell Tai-Seng tapes, sometimes at lower prices, sometimes not. A few people have asked me about LDs and DVD: one fan recently recommended Ken Crane's, which apparently sells CYF titles of both. Blue Laser also sells LDs, DVDs, and VCDs, and seem to have an impressive selection of CYF titles. Shocking Images seems to have a large collection of HK videos for sale. Kouf Enterprises seem to sell a fair number of CYF flicks (search under Chow) at slightly discounted prices. Movies Unlimited has a Hong Kong (Action) films page that includes many CYF classics: they claim to be the world's oldest and most reliable mail-order video company. I recently received one fan's enthusiastic recommendation of Da-Wei Films: they don't have much of a web site, but are reputed to be friendly and helpful in response to e-mail. Overseas, the British company Eastern Heroes is a source of CYF movies in PAL format. Reel.Com carries some 12-15 CYF flicks, including (I was delighted to note) God of Gamblers; they're probably the most well-established video dealership on the web. Someone recently pointed out to me that AnimeCrash has a web site now -- they are a cool chain, whose store in Boston I've often patronised, and sell the TaiSeng titles at a discount. The catalogue on the web site is extensive, though the graphics haven't been put in yet. The people at Action Video asked me to add them to this list -- I know nothing about them but they seem to carry a whole slew of Chow titles. eBay, the auction company, usually have various CYF items in stock, but I know nothing about them. WebJade asked me to link to them; I've heard nothing about them either.
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The Self-Promotion Sections: Awards!
This Chow Yun Fat Ring site
is owned by "Winnifred Louis".
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Want to join the Chow Yun Fat Ring?
(Not an award, really, but at least an honour! -- WL)
This site has been reviewed by Excite, and was given 4/4 stars.
This site was designated a Cool Site in the CYF category of NewHoo!. (And thanks to Dan Century for the info & the award!) (After I submitted my URL, that is!
This site received a Lavalinks Hot Web Site award from GroovePlanet, a webzine for Top-40 radio stations. This page was also honoured with the title of January 1997 Site of the Month by FirePig, who call themselves Boston's favourite band. This page was also reviewed by CelebSite, and received a rating of 4/4.
[Although I note that in the new Mr. Showbiz site, which appears to have taken over the old rating, only corporate sites get the full rating, and I've been downgraded ... heh heh.]
Celebsites amused me by creating a little CYF: GOA icon for their site.
This site is a "Choice Website" at Asia!E-Online.
Hong Kong Films
Apparently, CYF:GOA has received over 100 votes at Star Pages. That makes this a one-star page ... whoohoo!
The Self-Promotion Sections: Media Mentions!
The Toronto Star's STARWEEK magazine May 1998, p. 78: "Chow down on video," by Norman Wilner. ("Special thanks to Winnifred Louis; her invaluable Chow Web site at www.geocities.com/Athens/8907/factor.html was of enormous help tracking down the movies behind the fake titles.") And thanks to Norman Wilner for the plug, and for courteously letting me know when the article was forthcoming!
Thunder: World of Action Cinema March 1998 Action Links. ("Canadian Winnifred Lewis [sic] provides an attractive site that features the latest career news and even health information on Yun-Fat and his family. A detailed bio, articles from around the world and an obvious enthusiasm from its author, God of Actors is a good place to start your web research.") And thanks to Michael Stradtford for the plug!
ABC Flash A&E for February 1998: "Fat Mania Hits America". ("If you have never heard of Chow Yun-Fat and want to learn more, then you must check out the CYF site maintained by Winnifred Louis, one of the most hardcore Chow fans anywhere. As you can see from her comprehensive CYF site, Winnifred spends her days and nights tracking down CYF's every move between her work as a PhD student at McGill University. Her web page is a shrine of constantly updated CYF information, gossip, pictures, articles, and links to probably every CYF page on the Internet. Spend a couple of hours looking at his site and you'll feel like you've known Chow Yun-Fat your entire life.")And thanks to John Lee and Dan Century for letting me know about the plug; likewise to Jimmy Chow (who wrote it!)!
The Star, Malaysia, Jan. 16, 1998: "Man in the Net," by Davin Arul. ("This is an information-packed site with recent news and rumours, biography, links and a CYF 'watch.' The page is maintained by Winnifred Louis and includes an annotated filmography by the lady herself. Cool!")
NetVoice, Singapore, February '98 issue: "CHOW MANIA". ("NetVoice recommends you start at this site. Winnifred Louis has by far the most informative and interesting site on the great actor. You'll not only find all the gossip on Chow, his new projects, profiles and archives of interviews published around the world, but even her account of meeting him at the Toronto Film Festival. The site is full of links and if you follow all the links, you'll soon be lost out there on the Net, so be sure to bookmark it for easy retrieval. One thing bad about the site is Winnifred's choice of colors--simply the links are hard to read. But hang in there, it's worth it.") And 1000 thanks to Liebe Phantasms for letting me know about the plug!
IN THE BACKGROUND: The background image is of CYF in Treasure Hunt: an image I downloaded from the now-defunct entertainment.com and modified for my own nefarious ends.
From November 21, 1997 to November 21, 1998, the counter recorded 54896 hits. Since then, you are probably the only person who has ever accessed this web page, while I myself have logged on times since November 21st, 1998.
Over to: CYF Movie Reviews; CYF News & Pics Archive; CYF TVB Archive.
The last time I decided to officially note the fact that I modified this page was July 2000. I created this page in August 1996, with help from the NCSA's Beginner's Guide to HTML.
Before you contact me, please note:
I am not Chow Yun-Fat. This is a fan page, and I have no official connection to Mr. Chow whatsoever.
If you're wondering what movies I would recommend, or you want to know what I think of a particular movie, click here!
If you're wondering about buying CYF movies, see my notes on this page!
Copyright 1996-2000 Winnifred Louis. I also have a guestbook, which you are welcome to view or sign. However, the time pressures that keep me from updating this page now also preclude my responding individually to most questions/comments