Stephen Chow is the man who Quentin Tarantino calls him “the best actor in Hong Kong;” Chow brought Chinese cinema to the attention of the world and showed it that not everything hit film has to be in the English language. His cultural impact continues to this day and he remains in a unique position by which he can advise his own country whilst entertaining others.
I used to cry when I watched Chaplin’s films. It was from him that I learned about the role of the underdog. And because I’m also from a poor family, this kind of thing moved me and I found that it also worked for the audience because most of them are like me – ordinary guys.
Born on 22nd June 1962 in Hong Kong, Chow Sing-Chi grew into an internationally famed film director, actor, writer, producer, entrepreneur and political adviser of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. He is also a Culture of China. His career though began as a temporary television actor.
I’m not good at kung-fu at all. I have been learning, but obviously I am not an expert.
Chow was the only boy of his family (3 sisters), and has grown up as a Bruce Lee fan and a martial arts addict. Contradictory to some reports though, Chow only learned Wing Chun Kung Fu from Sifu Wong Shun Leung for only 3 months before having to stop because of financial reasons. He did though keep practicing himself and in later years trained with Sifu Wan Kam Leung.
I thought martial arts were my great strength, but when I actually got involved in show-business, I realized I wasn’t the only one who could do these things. And compared to a lot of others, I wasn’t really that good. So I became a children’s TV program host.
In 1982 Chow graduated TVB (with help from ‘Waise’ Lee Chi-Hung (The Legend of the Swordsman, A Better Tomorrow) and began making appearances in children’s programmes such as 430 Space Shuttle and by 1987 hit the big screen in Final Justice. A film which won him the Taiwan Golden Horse Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Chow broke through into the big time in 1989’s The Final Combat, this was followed up with All for the Winner (1990). By the time 1991’s Fight Back to School was released Chow was a star, cemented by the film becoming Hong Kong’s top-grossing film of all time.
With acting conquered, Chow turn to directing as well. From Beijing with Love (1994) which he co-directed with Lee Lik-Chi. His film duology A Chinese Odyssey (1995) made him the most iconic star in China.
Right from the beginning of my work, I wanted to capture a mass audience. And I love the unusual: you never see dancing villains. For me, there’s a fine line between comedy and drama; so it’s not just played for laughs. There’s a little romance in this story, too – something for everybody.
In 2001 his film Shaolin Soccer grossed over US$50 million all over the world. Chow won Best Director and Best Actor at the 2002 Hong Kong Film Awards, and the film went on to garner additional awards including a Blue Ribbon Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and the Golden Bauhinia Award for Best Picture and Best Director. It was his first international hit and established his reputation in the Western world.
In 2004 his film Kung Fu Hustle grossed over US$106 million all over the world. Chow won Best Director at the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards and Best Picture of Imagine Film Festival and 20 international awards.
Chow’s film CJ7 began filming in July 2006 in the eastern Chinese port of Ningbo. In August 2007 the film was given the title CJ7, a play on China’s successful Shenzhou manned space missions—Shenzhou 5 and Shenzhou 6. In 2013, Chow directed the film Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, a loose adaptation of the novel of the same name. The film was a box office success, becoming the highest-grossing film ever in Chinese language film.
In 2016, Stephen Chow released a new film titled The Mermaid. It was released in China on February 8th 2016. Upon release, it broke numerous box office records such as the biggest opening day and the biggest single day gross through its seventh day of release and having the biggest opening week of all time in China. On February 19 it became the highest-grossing film of all time in China. The Mermaid released in Vietnam on February 10, 2016. On March 14 it became the 3rd highest-grossing film of all time in Vietnam showing that Chow’s impact continues to grow.