Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

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Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Wed Apr 01, 2009 9:27 pm

To commemorate the sixth year anniversary of the suicide of Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing (known as "Gor-Gor") I will recommend five films he starred in. He was a Cantonese pop singer who turned to acting (like many, many Hong Kong stars including Anita Mui, Jacky Cheung and Andy Lau) and would act in several great movies.

A Better Tomorrow (1986: John Woo): While his performance bordered on the melodramatic and Chow Yun Fat in his Alein Delon derived character stole this movie, this film is the most important and most influential movie in the triad genre (though I would not consider it John Woo's best directed movie). While Cheung was always bankable because of his music background this was his first major hit (he did star in Merry Christmas (1984) which was a hit in Hong Kong, but it is not mentioned as much today). Then Watch: Once a Thief (1991: John Woo) and A Better Tomorrow II (1987: John Woo).

Days of Being Wild (1990: Wong Kar-Wai): Ultimately a failure with audiences when it first came out in Hong Kong, it was always a critical success winning the Hong Kong Film Awards Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Leslie Cheung in 1990. Cheung plays York a charming, aloof, wayward (almost misanthropic) character that collects and discards women. This was also the first collaboration between Wong and Christopher Doyle. This is a truly sagacious and wonderful film.

The Bride with White Hair (1993: Ronny Yu Yan-Tai): While Cheung's performance is not as in depth as his Wong Kar-Wai films this is one of the better Wu Xia films from the early 90s. Great costume and production design (the Tai Seng disc is quite bad though), a story of fantasy elements and romantic plot between Brigitte Lin and Leslie make this an interesting hybrid of storytelling. Greatest twin villain(s) ever (including Francis Ng). I don't know when I will see the sequel though.

Farewell to My Concubine (1993: Chen Kaige): One of my favorite films and one of the Cheung's greatest acting performances. It is a beautiful tale of two performers of Peking Opera and their lives and loves during the turbulent times of 20th Century China. Cheung stars as Ching Dip Dut a performer of female roles who has fallen in love with his acting partner Duen Siu Lau (who is in love with Guk Sing played by Gong Li). The harsh treatment shown in the beginning during their youth was realistic of the rigors and torture children had to endure to learn the craft of Peking Opera (read Jackie Chan's autobiography to learn more about this).

Ashes of Time (1994: Wong Kar-Wai): A troubled production, but certainly worth watching for the beautiful direction, great acting and non-linear storyline. Cheung is the focal-point as Ouyang Feng a swordsman for hire (that does seem to delegate a lot) with questionable morals and a longing for a lost love. I actually do not like the fight scenes since they obscure all the work Sammo Hung did and are repetitive. The new version omits a battle scene in the beginning with Leslie. Leslie would be nominated for a Best Actor this same year but it would be for He's a Woman, She's a Man (Peter Chan Hoh-San). This movie is a lot easier to get since the Redux version came out this year and prices for the OOP version went down as well.

Four important films I need to see myself: A Chinese Ghost Story (1987: Tony Ching Siu-Tung), Rouge (1988: Stanley Kwan Kam-Pang), Happy Together (1997: Wong Kar-Wai), He's a Woman, She's a Man (1994: Peter Chan Hoh-San). Happy Together will probably be the next film I watch out of these.

Fans of lists will find many of these films on [url="http://www.listsofbests.com/list/18998"]Hong Kong Film Awards' 103 Best Chinese Films[/url].

What is your favorite film with Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing?
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Thu Apr 02, 2009 2:14 am

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:What is your favorite film with Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing?


I don't know for sure if these are my favourites per se, but I often think back to his performances in his last two films, DOUBLE TAP and INNER SENSES, when someone brings him up in a discussion or the annual tributes start rolling in. He'd started to show his age by the time he made these, especially the latter--perhaps that was a factor in his decision to take his own life in a way that mirrored the climax of the latter film--and I found his characters in both pictures to be more realistically vulnerable and conflicted than the brooding, sensitive pretty boys he so often played. I think they're both standout films in their genres as well, but it's as though he was finally acknowledging his dark side by taking on these comparatively difficult roles. Overall, though, he's probably not one of my favourite Hong Kong actors, although I must admit that rarely has a performer been so ideally cast so frequently throughout his career; it would have been fascinating to see where he might have taken it had he not left us so soon.
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby cal42 » Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:38 am

Agree wholeheartedly about Days of Being Wild, he gave a fine performance in that. You should enjoy Rouge, too for the same reason. Chinese Ghost Story is a good film but not really much in the way of serious acting I suppose.

I'll be interested to hear your comments about Happy Together. It's a great film but not really enjoyable, if you know what I mean :P .
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:43 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:What is your favorite film with Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing?


I don't know for sure if these are my favourites per se, but I often think back to his performances in his last two films, DOUBLE TAP and INNER SENSES, ...; it would have been fascinating to see where he might have taken it had he not left us so soon.


I'll start looking to purchase DOUBLE TAP and INNER SENSES soon then. EDIT: just purchased.

Still my favorite performance from him has been in Farewell to My Concubine (1993: Chen Kaige) which is now OOP for the R1 (I have sent several emails to Criterion about possible HK/Taiwan/Mainland picks :D. Has anyone else seen this? Cheung was case perfectly for this movie and his performance was quite dominate in it (one of the

My girlfriend really liked THE PHANTOM LOVER, but unfortunately that DVD broke before I got a chance to see it. Reviews of it seem to be more in the middle though.

I will get to HAPPY TOGETHER after I take care of FALLEN ANGELS. Like Cal (except slower) I have been going through all of Wong Kar-wai's directed movies (Cal still has to see EROS though :D).

There are so many actors, directors that would have been interesting to see how their career would have went (like Bruce Lee or Fu Sheng or heck even James Dean).
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby cal42 » Thu Apr 02, 2009 6:55 pm

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:(Cal still has to see EROS though :D).


Damn! I really thought I'd gotten away with that - I thought no one's going to pick me up on a third of a film. Seems I underestimated my readership :lol: :lol:
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:17 pm

cal42 wrote:
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:(Cal still has to see EROS though :D).


Damn! I really thought I'd gotten away with that - I thought no one's going to pick me up on a third of a film. Seems I underestimated my readership :lol: :lol:


Remember Cal I'm going through all of his films too :D. Plus I like to be annoying. It is the only one I do not own that Wong has (part) directed though. Roger Ebert liked Wong's part the best http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbc ... 23002/1023 .

Which Leslie Cheung film should I watch next? well after HAPPY TOGETHER.
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby ororama » Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:27 pm

I've seen twelve of Leslie Cheung's movies, mostly from the eighties.
I'd recommend Rouge as the best of his performances. I think that a lot of the characters that he played were intended to be brooding, sensitive pretty boys, as Brian said, but I generally found them to be cool, distant, cocky and narcissistic. I guess that the studios figured that this type worked well for him in Nomad, and kept casting him in this sort of role. Rouge was a film where this type of performance was needed, and he delivered. The movie is romantic, occasionally funny, and heartbreaking. The last time I saw it, I watched the ending over and over, trying to interpret the expressions on Cheung and Anita Mui's faces, but I couldn't find the answer to their fates.
Merry Christmas is a light comedy. Cheung's part is small as a boyfriend (another cocky pretty boy) of Karl Maka's daughter, but he has a very funny scene drinking with Maka.
A Better Tomorrow is a great film, but watch it for Ti Lung and Chow Yun Fat, not Leslie Cheung. Cheung's character seemed kind of selfish, blaming his brother for their father's death (fair enough), but truly upset only about the problems his brother was causing for his career. He does redeem himself, in what I think is one of the all-time great endings in movies.
I love The Bride With White Hair. It was one of the few times that I did't find Cheung cool and distant, and I think that it has one of the best opening scenes in movies. The Bride With White Hair 2 was forgettable, and Cheung's role was small-I guess they just wanted his name for the box office.
I'll probably be watching Behind The Yellow Line soon. I think that I need to see the Chinese Ghost Story films, Days of Being Wild, Happy Together, Once A Thief and Farewell To My Concubine in order to get a better impression of the later part of his career.
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby cal42 » Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:19 pm

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:
cal42 wrote:Which Leslie Cheung film should I watch next? well after HAPPY TOGETHER.


It's probably no surprise, but I'm with ororama in saying Rouge. I've just re-read my review and it's uncharacteristically short, but this is a great movie. I saw it years ago on TV and loved it but thought it was one of those movies that probably wouldn't work as well on second viewing, but when I bought the DVD I was very pleasantly surprised. I mean what I say though - if you buy the Fortune Star DVD, don't read the English text on the box as it gives too much away.
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby Chungking_Cash » Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:58 am

When I think of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing in terms of cinematic output my mind immediately flashes to the first five films I saw the late actor star in:

A Better Tomorrow (1986)

A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

Days of Being Wild (1990)

Farwell My Concubine (1993)

The Bride with White Hair (1993)

...not that I don't think of "Ashes of Time," "He's a Man, She's a Woman," "Happy Together," a cameo in Jean-Claude Van Damme's "Knock Off," and the parallels between the star's tragic end and his final film "Inner Senses."

I have made plans to sit down and watch "Rouge," "The Chinese Feast," and "Ashes of Time Redux" this summer.
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby KMGor » Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:28 pm

My favorite film Leslie Cheung is in must be A Better Tomorrow. However, I'd say his most interesting performance I've seen is in Double Tap (might add I haven't seen Happy Together or Farewell, My Concubine). I'm not quite sure how good I would call it - at times it seems to be a bit too over-the-top. It's also not one of my favorite films (though I will credit it for having the most realistic one-vs-many gun battles in any film I've seen).

But I must commend him for trying so many different roles - one of the things I treasure about many HK actors is quite a few of them try out incredibly varied roles, Leslie Cheung included. No doubt some of that has been due to the hectic nature of HK cinema production, but that was not the case for a megastar like Leslie.
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Wed Apr 22, 2009 5:46 pm

Double Tap has me more interested with your comments (and Brians). I will have to put that higher on my personal HK queue (glad to have bought the DVD).

After watching Happy Together (while a very good film), I didn't find Leslie Cheung's performance as one of his better ones. I think Tony Leung dominates that film (though most likely because of the direction of Wong, though Leslie is quite good and prominent in Ashes of Time Redux).
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:25 pm

cal42 wrote:
Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:
cal42 wrote:Which Leslie Cheung film should I watch next? well after HAPPY TOGETHER.


It's probably no surprise, but I'm with ororama in saying Rouge. I've just re-read my review and it's uncharacteristically short, but this is a great movie. I saw it years ago on TV and loved it but thought it was one of those movies that probably wouldn't work as well on second viewing, but when I bought the DVD I was very pleasantly surprised. I mean what I say though - if you buy the Fortune Star DVD, don't read the English text on the box as it gives too much away.


Since it is October (and HKFlix finally had a copy to sell) I watched this. I liked the film, I think it is solid, I do hate the ending (I'll put spoilers if I comment on it later) which had a couple of huge logical flaws. I do not think Leslie Cheung's performance though is near his in Farewell my Concubine. The movie really belongs to Anita Mui's excellent performance.
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby cal42 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:42 am

I didn't spot logical flaws in the film, I have to admit. And I tend to be a bit anal where plot holes are concerned! So I'd be interested in what you've got to say on the matter.
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Oct 08, 2009 5:59 pm

Spoilers below for Rouge

The first problem I had was the whole Fleur gave Chan sleeping pills issue. This caused Ah Chor (Emily Chu) to first be really angry with Fleur (and then later her almost inexplicit mood change on this issue where she wanted Chan to be dead which annoyed me; this I felt was a logical problem) but the fact was that her giving him too much medicine possibly caused his surviving (you tend to puke up a serious overdose, but this was not discovered and ultimately it does not matter). However, the whole aspect where they expected him to commit suicide again is a bit ludicrous (I know a few people who have survived). It is hard enough to do it once with the person you love, but if you survive it is a lot harder to do it again because the person you love is gone (also you will have influence by family and friends hopefully that will try to prevent you from doing it again) and you have no idea if there is indeed an afterlife.

Her Fleur unwillingness to forgive seems to show her lack of true love. Of course you could point her character to the great Dreyer film Gertrude and compare and contrast. Gertrude was a character that felt she believed in true love, but if her lover made one mistake was not in favor of the relationship she would end the relationship.

Now mind you I do like this film.
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby AV1979 » Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:41 pm

One of my favorite Leslie Cheung movies is He's a Woman, She's a Man, directed by Peter Chan. Reminded me of the predecessor of American Idol, but brought to a more funny rom-com (romantic comedy). Cheung gaves a great performance as music producer Sam, who searches for new talent after growing tired of his "diva" girlfriend Rose, played by Carina Lau. Anita Yuen was great as well as the obsessed fan who decides to go Yentl on everyone and dress like a man and enter the competition. However, she begins to fall for Sam and Rose begins to get attracted to Yuen and...yup, chaos!!! Eric Tsang was very funny in his supporting role as well. I helped Lisa Stokes proofread her analysis of the film for the Hong Kong University Press, so that helped inspire me to see it and it is now one of my favorites from Cheung.
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Apr 01, 2010 5:19 pm

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Double Tap has me more interested with your comments (and Brians). I will have to put that higher on my personal HK queue (glad to have bought the DVD).

After watching Happy Together (while a very good film), I didn't find Leslie Cheung's performance as one of his better ones. I think Tony Leung dominates that film (though most likely because of the direction of Wong, though Leslie is quite good and prominent in Ashes of Time Redux).


I think his performance in Happy Together is better then what I wrote above. I liked it better then his performance in Rouge for example. I want to do a Wong Kar-wai review sometime and I'll debate on which film of his I will write.

Today is the anniversay of his death and I am going to debate watching tonight either Inner Senses or Double Tap (which one is better?).
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Re: Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Thu Apr 01, 2010 8:05 pm

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Today is the anniversay of his death and I am going to debate watching tonight either Inner Senses or Double Tap (which one is better?).



My vote is for DOUBLE TAP, although they both run pretty close in satisfaction for me. Cheung's performances are extremely good in both—especially considering their popcorn nature—but his increasingly deranged character in DOUBLE TAP has just a few more layers of shading that I found just a little more satisfying. On a technical level, both films are pretty top notch.
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