Chow Yun-Fat - Details


Chow Yun-FatLong before his American debut in 1997’s The Replacement Killers, Chow Yun-fat was a superstar in Asia.

At the age of 18, Chow enrolled in an actors’ training course at TVB, Hong Kong’s biggest television station. Within a couple of years, he was starring in Hotel, a 128-episode series that made him the top television star in his native Hong Kong. Several hit series later, in 1981, he generated another craze with the series The Bund, in which he played a gangster in 1930s Shanghai. The role made him a household name in every Southeast Asian country, as well as in China.

Chow’s film career began in 1977, but it was not until 1982 when he starred in Ann Hui’s The Story of Woo Viet that he became recognized as a major actor and a movie star of the first magnitude. From then on, his career took off.

In 1985, Po-chih Leong’s Hong Kong 1941 won Chow a Best Actor Award both at the Asia Pacific Film Festival in Tokyo and at the Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan. In 1986, Chow made twelve pictures, a significant amount by any count and certainly a record for a leading actor. One of them, John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow, made cinema history when released. It broke box-office records in every single Southeast Asian country and Korea, and Chow became a superstar. This film garnered him his first Best Actor Award at the Hong Kong Academy Awards, and more importantly, he created a phenomenon never seen before. Audiences everywhere were cheering and stomping their feet wherever he appeared on screen, and young men were imitating his attire in the film.

A Better Tomorrow also formed a perfect alliance between him and director John Woo, which resulted in subsequent hits: The Killer (1989), Once a Thief (1990), and Hard-Boiled (1992). These films, along with Mabel Cheung’s An Autumn’s Tale (1987) and Ringo Lam’s City on Fire (1987), are pinnacles of a Hong Kong movie renaissance that eventually caught the eyes of Western film critics.

In the early nineties, Chow Yun-fat retrospectives were mounted all over the world, including
such prestigious venues as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, then onward to other major cities such as New York, London and Paris.

When The Killer was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991, it caught the attention of Hollywood studios, which started wooing Chow. It was not until 1996 that the actor made his first American film, Antoine Fuqua’s The Replacement Killers, followed by The Corruptor (1999), directed by James Foley.


  • 18th May 1955 - Birth