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| Friday, December 17, 2004

Although he has occasionally been dubbed "the Cantonese James Dean" and "the Tom Cruise of the East", neither moniker does Hongkong superstar Andy Lau justice. The reason, to put it simply, is that Lau's celebrity and achievements are incomparable to anyone else's in the world. Period. With over 100 movies to his name, Andy reached a career milestone when he was awarded his first Best Actor award at the 19th Hongkong Films Awards (HKFA) for his powerhouse performance as a dying crimminal in the thriller Running Out Of Time.

:: how andy started ::

Andy started his acting career in 1981 when he signs up for TVB's Artiste Training Course. However, he was only given minor TV roles to act for two years. In 1983, Andy finally makes his mark with Eagle Hunter . Huge TV serial hits like Return Of The Condor Heroes and The Duke Deer follows, marking his arrival as major TV idol.

With his increase in popularity, TVB promotes and contemporaries Leung Chiu Wai, Miu Kiu Wai, Wong Yat Wah and Tong Chan Yip collectively as the Five Tigers, successfully turning them into heart-throbs of the day. In 1987, sensing Andy's potential, TVB wants him to sign a five-year contract. He refuses, and TVB retaliate by putting him in 'cold storage', deliberately denying him any exposure on TV for 13 months. Andy hits depression valley. He gains 17kg, tipping the scales at 80kg. But he decides to fight back by plugging headlog into movies. Andy left TVB in 1988.

:: andy lau - the movie star ::

In 1982, thanks to recommendation of Chow Yun Fat and George Lam (whom stars in the movie) Andy co-stars in his first movie, Ann Hui's Boat People and got nominated for Best New Performer in the 2nd HKFA in 1983. Chow Yun Fat help to get movie roles for Andy, thus he got to starred 2 movies with Chow Yun Fat namely Rich and Famous and Tragic Hero which in turns launched Andy's movie career. In the mid-80s, Andy began appearing in feature films, oftern co-starring alongside the likes of Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung, where he appeared in everything from historical dramas to bloodshed action genres to martial arts comedies.

Andy was thrust into movie superstardom after earning international recognition and acclaim for his starring role in Wong Kar Wai's directorial debut, As Tears Go By. He received the Best Actor award at 1998's prestigious Golden Dragon Ceremony and was nominated for Best Actor in the 8th HKFA for his role in Wong Ka Wai's As Tears Go By. With the success of As Tears Go By, a string of hit movies in a wide range of genres that includes action, comedy, drama and sci-fi follows. In the same year, he was nicknamed "14 Smiles" when he made 14 movies in 1988.

Andy has a prolific film output between 1986 - 1991 as 58 movies are filmed during this period among the more than 100 movies (Filmography) he made in his movie career. It's not unusual to see two Andy Lau films screening concurrently at the cinemas. He becomes a box-office draw second only to Chow Yun Fat. Throughout his career, he has worked with such prominent directors as Wong Kar Wai, Johnnie To, Ringo Lam, Lawrence Ah Mon, Ann Hui, Derek Yee, Andrew Lau and Zhang Yimou.

His movie in 1995, Full Throttle made over HK$30 million in the box-office and became one of Andy's #1 box-office hit. In 2000, Needing You broke records on its opening weekend and knocked Mission:Impossible 2 out of the #1 spot, while both in their second weeks before becoming the highest grossing box-office hit in Hongkong for the year 2000 with HK$35 million in the box-office. In 2001, Andy's Love On A Diet and Full Time Killer had a higher box-office takings compared to Hollywood blockbuster Pearl Harbor during the summer holidays.

Running Out Of Time was chosen for the opening for the 23rd Asian American International Film Festival to a sold out audiences in New York. Andy also appeared in person to introduce the film and sign autographs for hundreds of his fans. After Running Out Of Time, Andy had several more collaborations with director Johnnie To which are movies that obtained good box office takings and reviews.

Full Time Killer was also made its premiere at Toronto International Film Festival. After the screening, America's film distributor like Columbia Pictures Industries Inc, Miramax and New Line Cinema had contacted TeamWork to discuss on the possibility of getting the distributing rights of the movie in America. Full Time Killer was also nominated by the Hong Kong Film Association representing Hong Kong to vye for one of the 5 nomination spot for Best Foreign Language Film in the 2002 Oscars Films Awards, though it didn't make it.

Although under the influence of his lawsuits in 2002, it didn't affect Andy's love for movies as his movie, Infernal Affairs collected HK$54,120,000, the movie also won major awards in several film awards ceremonies. Miramax Films sealed a pact to acquire North American rights to distribute the stylish crime drama in Italy, Spain and Latin America, excluding Mexico. Warner Bros. Pictures won a feverish bidding war, paying a reported $1.75 million to acquire remake rights to "Infernal Affairs" for Brad Pitt, Brad Grey and Jennifer Aniston to produce through the trio's studio-based unit (HR 2/3). Infernal Affairs later spanned into a trilogy.

:: his acting awards ::

Since winning the Best Actor award in prestigious Taiwan Golden Dragon Awards in 1989, Andy did not won any other major acting awards thereafter although several nominations for Best Actor at the HKFA in 1988 (As Tears Go By), 1991 (Lee Rock) and 1995 (Full Throttle) and another Best Actor nomination at the Golden Bauhina Awards in 2000 (Running Out Of Time).

In 2000, Andy finally reached a career milestone when he was awarded his first Best Actor award at the 19th HKFA for his powerhouse performance as a dying crimminal in the thriller Running Out Of Time directed by Johnnie To. From then now, Andy is at long last recognised as an actor in his own right with another Best Actor award for A Fighter's Blues at the 6th Bauhina Films Awards and a first Chinese Blockbuster Award with Sammi Cheng for Needing You at the 7th Blockbuster Entertainment Awards.

Several Best Actor nominations follows at the 20th HKFA for A Fighter's Blues; nominated for the first time in Taiwan's 2002 Golden Horse Film Awards for his role in Love On A Diet; nominated for Infernal Affairs in Golden Bauhina Awards, HKFA and Golden Horse Film Awards in 2002 and 2003, although coming out tops in several online votings but again he fail to win.

Hardworking Andy finally was rewarded with his second HKFA Best Actor award and Hong Kong Film Critics Association's Best Actor for Running On Karma. In his third nomination in Golden Horse Film Awards in 2004, he was finally crowned Best Actor for his role in Infernal Affairs III.

:: the next step in Hollywood? ::

Andy also signs American company ICM as agent to be on the lookout for possible Hollywood roles. Asking price per movie is reportedly US$1 million. "I hope to break into the foreign market. In the eyes of foreigners, I am always regarded as a good-looker."

However, earning a living there like fellow Hongkong colleagues Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat has not crossed his mind. "Lots of scripts appear in my life from Hollywood...not the one that I want. Most of them are action-packed movies, I don't think they can make better than us. Without a good script, I would rather stay in Hong Kong than go to Hollywood and wait. I feel that we now have to fight Jackie Chan and Jet Li for a piece of the movie market," he said.

"If you are still capable, I think you should still work for your home base. I don't understand why it require to film a Hollywood movie in order to break into the Hollywood market, you could if you concentrate on filming Hong Kong movies just like Crounching Tiger and Hidden Dragon, furthermore in its original Mandarin dialogue without dubbing. Actually it was really hard to film without using your mother tongue language, its not use if you could not acted out the feeling. It looks like they are using the Chinese to fight the Chinese market."