Where to begin when it comes to learning about one of Hong Kong’s most iconic movie stars? This article can hardly do him justice. Tall, handsome, and charming, Chow radiates charisma on and off screen, remaining captivating to this day.
1 Humble Beginnings
Born on Lamma Island in Hong Kong, his mother was a vegetable farmer and cleaning lady, while his father drove oil tankers for Shell Oil Company. Chow helped his mother sell herbal jelly and Hakka tea pudding on the streets. He also worked various odd jobs to help support his family including as a cab driver and postman. After college he caught a break when he scored an actor-trainer contract with TVB, the local television station.
2 First Success on the Small Screen
Chow Yun-Fat got his start as a heartthrob on Chinese soap opera The Bund . The show, known as "The Godfather of the East" made him a huge TV star throughout Asia in the early 1980s.
3 Mr. "Cool-As-Ice"
Chow achieved his breakthrough in A Better Tomorrow (1986), his first of many collaborations with also-iconic director John Woo. Chow’s super cool demeanour and skill with twin handguns helped make his character, Mark, one of the icons of Hong Kong cinema.
4 Worldwide Recognition
As one of the biggest stars in Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s and 90s, Chow parlayed his success by taking on Hollywood projects too, such as The Replacement Killers with Mira Sorvino or Anna and the King with Jodie Foster. However he probably is most recognized internationally for his role in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2003), where he starred against fellow international movie star Michelle Yeoh.
5 Modest Megastar
Chow is also well known for his modest lifestyle, contrasting with his HK$5.6 billion (USD$700 million) fortune, which he also pledged donating to charity upon his death. He has been spotted on public transportation and even waiting in line for his own movies. He often eats at Hong Kong’s street food stalls and used a Nokia flip phone for 17 years, switching to a smart phone recently, only when the once-trusty Nokia stopped working.
6 Bonus: Chow the Comedian
Probably best known for his action and drama flicks, I also wanted to highlight Chow's comedic abilities. The Eighth Happiness was the highest-grossing film in Hong Kong when it came out in 1988. It is a super-hilarious film and Chow shines as 'Handsome' Fong Kim-long.