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Biography #2 (for Kung Fu Hustle)

Stephen Chow is Asia's number one comedy star and one of the region's most beloved entertainers. He has starred in more than 50 films, but it was the success of 2001's Shaolin Soccer that lifted him to a level of stardom occupied by only a handful of others in the region. Like Kung Fu Hustle, Chow also wrote, directed and starred in Shaolin Soccer. Though a Hong Kong-produced film, Shaolin Soccer broke box office records across Asia, including non-Chinese speaking countries such as Japan and South Korea.

A native of Hong Kong, Stephen Chow was one of three children in what he describes as a very poor family. He grew up as a Bruce Lee fan and a martial arts fanatic, but he remembers that as a child his own kung fu training had to stop after six weeks when his family could no longer afford lessons. Chow started his entertainment career as the host of a TV children's show, 430 Space Shuttle. He quickly made a name for himself with his witty style, but it was not until 1989 that he began acting in films.

In 1989, in the movie Final Justice, he played a supporting role, which won him the best supporting actor award at Taipei Golden Horse Awards and established him in the Hong Kong film world. The key turning point in his career came only a year later, when he had his first starring role in the 1990 Chow Yun-Fat spoof All for the Winner. In this movie, Chow's unique and hilarious onscreen persona - playing his first in a series of lovable underdogs - made him a overnight sensation in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. Asian film observers also say that in that film Chow gave birth to the Mo Lei Tau (nonsense) comedy style, now considered a fully established genre of Hong Kong comedy.

Since All for the Winner, Chow has gradually but firmly established himself as Hong Kong's comedy king. Among his 50 some movies, Justice My Foot won him the best actor award in 1992 Asian Pacific Film Awards, and A Chinese Odyssey won him the best actor award at 1996 Hong Kong Critics Society Awards as well as at Hong Kong Golden Bauhinia Film Awards.

With God of Cookery in 1996, his first directorial effort, which he also wrote and produced, in addition to starring, Chow entered a new era of his film career, in which his full talents as a filmmaker began to blossom. After the huge success of God of Cookery, he made King of Comedy in 1999, which he also wrote, starred in, and directed. With a charming story about a movie extra meeting the star of his dreams, King of Comedy earned Chow lavish praise from American writer-director-actor Quentin Tarantino, who describes Chow as the best actor in Hong Kong.

In 2001 Chow directed, wrote, produced and starred in Shaolin Soccer, which brought him to yet another peak in his career. A story combining martial arts, Chow's lifelong passion, and soccer, one of the most popular sports in the world, Shaolin Soccer quickly became the third highest-grossing film of all time in Hong Kong. Shaolin Soccer won seven major awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Design and Best Visual Effects.

Bio courtesy Sony Classics for "Kung Fu Hustle" (07-May-2005)


Biography #3 (for Shaolin Soccer)

With his physical sense of humor, Stephen Chow has been described as Asia's answer to Jim Carrey; the Hong Kong actor/director also invites comparisons to Charlie Chaplin and the Farrelly Brothers. But Chow's comic skills put him in a class all his own. Almost a decade ago, Chow was hailed as the founder of a Hong Kong comedy genre known as mo lei tau. Often translated as nonsense comedy, this grab -bag style of film relies heavily o n wafer-thin plots, slapstick antics, and toilet humor, earning Chow legions of fans across Asia. In a mo lei tau picture, literally anything goes: a fake commercial or musical number could interrupt the plot at any time, while the story might veer off on hysterical tangents. "My films have evolved over time but one thing remains constant, says Chow. People will never tire of. good comedy."

Born in 1962 to Shanghainese parents, Chow was the only son of four children. He grew up idolizing Bruce Lee, an d after graduating from high school in 1982, applied for placement at the very same broadcast syndicate TVB where Lee got his start. Although Chow was turned down for not being handsome or talented enough, he persisted and was eventually accepted into TVB's acting school. Chow graduated after a year in the program and made his first appearance on 430 Space Shuttle, a popular children's television program that he co -hosted with Tony Leung Chiu-wai (In the Mood for Love). He hosted for four years until 1987, when he made his movie debut in Final Justice, earning him the Golden Horse Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Over the next few years, Chow alternated between television and movie roles. He starred mainly in action movies like Thunder Cops 2 and Dragon Fight, and was able to show his comedic side in Jacky Cheung's Faithfully Yours. But it wasn't until 1990 that Chow changed Hong Kong cinema history with his film All for the Winner.

Co-directed by Jeff Lau (Wong Kar Wails partner at Jet T one Productions), All for the Winner is a parody of the 1989 Chow Yun fat vehicle, God of Gamblers. It introduced audiences to Chow's unique brand of mo lei tau comedy and out -grossed the movie it lampooned. It also spawned a rash of comedy -gambling movies, including two sequels to the original God of Gamblers, now starring the man who mocked them: Stephen Chow. And that wasn't all Chow was doing in 1990. He starred in no less than eleven movies that year, including My Hero, Legend of the Dragon, and Curry & Pepper.

In 1991, Chow made Fist of Fury '91, a spoof of the Bruce Lee classic Fists of Fury. Adopting many of Lee's facial expressions, Chow gave a comic twist to the legendary martial artist's fighting style. In Fist of Fury '91, Chow is a martial artist with the strongest right arm in China . . . and the weakest left. The movie spawned a sequel the following year and encouraged Chow to develop his own special brand of action comedy. Widely imitated but never matched, Chow's action comedies set the pace for Hong Kong movie -making in the '90s.

Chow continues to be one of the hardest -working actors in Hong Kong show business. He has starred in over 49 movies and won best actor awards for his roles in films like King of Comedy an d Final Justice. He has played opposite Gong Li and Jackie Chan and is generally credited with discovering actresses Cecilia Cheung and Karen Mok (who make cameo appearances in Shaolin Soccer as dreadlocked, mustachioed villains). Chow's films have repeatedly broken box office records in Hong Kong. Nothing, it seems, is above Chow's powers of spoofing. He has even turned his razor -sharp wit on Luc Besson's Leon (which he re -made as Out of the Dark), James Bond (From Beijing with Love features Chow as a pork butcher turned super spy), and himself (Forbidden City Cop re -casts his pork butcher spy in the Q'ing Dynasty Imperial Palace).

Despite his films being dubbed in dozens of languages, Chow's comedy always remains funny. Like all great comic actors, his speech, movement, and attitude are universally enjoyed even though they are rooted in a specific culture.

After a brief hiatus from movie-making, Chow made a record-breaking comeback with Shaolin Soccer.As befits such a brazenly physical comedian, Chow not only produced, directed, scripted and edited Shaolin Soccer, he also performed all his own stunts in the movie. I trained 365 days for it, he says, proudly. "I kick-boxed and jogged almost every single day. Of course, I sustained quite a few injuries as well since I spent half the time on wires. The runaway success of Shaolin Soccer" promises that this won't be the last time Chow finds himself in such a gravity-defying position.

Bio courtesy Miramax for "Shaolin Soccer" (25-Aug-2004)


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