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| Friday, December 17, 2004

Heavenly King, 'wah chai', 'liu tie ren' -- whatever you choose to call him, Andy Lau Tak-Wah, the popular actor and singer in Hongkong and around Asia is IT. For sheer resilience and staying power, few can match him. From one down-and-out TV actor to movie leading man and then singing star, but also extends to be a successful businessman of production, recording and Internet companies. Andy Lau is a living example of personal improvement and accomplishment. The man's relentless drive is legend.

:: who is andy lau ::

In 1961, Andy Lau Tak-Wah was born to a poor family in rural town Taipo in New Territories, Hongkong. For two years, a 10-years-old Andy awakes at 3am, making eight trips everyday to fetch water for his family.

One of Andy's pet hobbies is collecting 'antique' jeans from the '50s and '60s. He has more than 30 pairs, some of them which were bought used. Andy, who like to feel comfortable in his clothes, liked them as back then the emphasis was more on comfort than aesthetics. Andy also collects antique watches which has intricate designs, character and history. The most expensive watch that Andy bought was HK$8,000 in China 10 years ago. It's now worth more than HK$200,000. Andy don't wear that watch as it's too expensive to lose, because Andy had lost more than 20 watches over the years as he'll take his watch off when the cameras roll and then forget about it. There was a time Andy kept vintage cars too. He once had nine, but sold off six since he've no time to maintain them. Andy listens to everything from country music to the most progressive synthesised sounds and jazz. His most treasured possession is his collection of 10 Elvis CDs as he envy Elvis talent, image and era he lived in. Furthermore, Andy is a big fan of Japan's character - Ultraman as he has a collections of Ultraman's items.

" I'd want to be a very successful sportsman. It doesn't matter which sports it is, I haven't got a perference. The trouble with me is I play many games but I don't excel in any one. Being a sportsman will allow me to spend even more time making sure I'm in tip-top physical conditions. Staying healthy - that's my piority these days." That's what Andy said what he would be if he could live life again. Andy, whom is passionate for bowling and has an impressive of 180 average, dreams to bowl competitively for Hongkong.

:: his love life ::

Andy dated Taiwanese actress, Yu Ke Shing for a few years, the only relationship that Andy openly admitted. However, they broke up in 1986 because of work commitments. She says:"I initiated the break-up, but I know that's what he wants too. He was just waiting for me to say goodbye." He says:" It was the first time that I cried over a relationship." Andy said that he would not openly admit his relationship anymore due to the mass pressure from the media.

There's even rumours that Andy is a gay! Andy said "I remebered that it's either in 1986 or 1987, the media said I'm gay. I was angry and swear that if I'm gay, I'll die of Aids in 7 years." For years, the bachelor had also told the press that he hoped to get married one day, and had denied he was gay.

Female stars like Cherie Chung, Rosamund Kwan, Michelle Reis and Anita Mui were linked with Andy, rumours have been around that he has had someone else for a long time.

Malaysian Carol Zhu Liqian had been linked with Lau since 1985. It's a 14-years love marathon, in 1985 Carol Zhu Liqian was a runner-up in Malaysia's Miss Modern before flying to Hongkong for beauty lessons and was introduce to Andy by a mutal friend and fall in love at first sight. In 1992, allegations of Andy and Carol had register for marriage in Vancouver, Canada and bought an apartment at Kadoorie for their love nest. In 1995, reports of them building a love nest at Penang, Malaysia and state that Carol works in Andy's invested company, TeamWork Production. In 1998, allegations that Andy and Carol had a 2-years-old daughter. In 1999, Sudden Weekly had photgraphs of Carol entering and leaving Andy's apartment at Kadoorie. When asked about their relationship, Andy express: "It's not a scandal, it's family matters...." In April 2000, Malaysian reports that both were having holiday at Phuket and Tioman Island. In May 2000, reports of Andy buying 2 blue Estima G for HK$1000,000 to be their lovers car. In 2001, Sudden Weekly spotted Carol and a little girl of approximately 5-years-old to watch a movie at Causeway Bay.

Andy's cryptic comment of "I know her" led the Hongkong press to speculate Ms Zhu is indeed his secret girlfriend of 14 years. He told Hongkong TV: "I did not say she is my girlfriend. I can only say I know her. But I will let the rumours be. Yes or no, I will not answer. Anyway, I have not talked about this all these years.I will marry when I find someone suitable. Please don't bother about whether it is true... The truth will out in future... At the very least, this isn't anything to be shameful about."

:: his commercials ::

In 1993, Andy becomes the first Asian superstar to endorse Pepsi-Cola, joining the league of Western singing icons such as Michael Jackson and Tina Turner. Other than this, Andy also had other commercials like Solvil et Titus watches, Ericsson mobile phones, HKNet broadband service, Taoti beverage, Superwarm thermo underwear and Baleno casual wear.

:: his awards ::

In recognition of his singing and acting accomplishments, Andy has garnered more than 290 awards which includes honors from MTV and Billboard, that make him to be listed in the Guinness World Record Book 2001 for Most Canto-pop Awards. After 17 years, Andy then win his long awaited Best Actor award at the 19th Hongkong Films Awards which helped solidifying his place in the film industry.

For all his achievements and accomplishments in singing and performances in movies and his participation in charity events all over the world, Andy was being selected to be one of Hongkong Top 10 Outstanding Youth in 1999. Then in 2000, just days after being listed in the Guinness World Records 2001, Andy added another trophy to his bursting cabinet. The singer-actor receive the Outstanding Young Persons Of The World award (for personal improvement and accomplishment) from Junior Chamber International in Sapporo, Japan.

Andy dress in a Chinese long coat said onstage in the award ceremony with fluent English: "After thinking the whole night, I don't what to say and don't find any special about myself, however I'm a good example, that is never give up. Actually everybody could become an Outstanding Young Person, unless one give himself up, learnt from me! Hardwork will bring success."

He was also named in People's Daily newspaper's Tribute to the Motherland as one of the top 100 most outstanding Chinese representatives in the 50 years since the establishment of the People's Republic of China.

After Richard Li, Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh, Andy Lau was first Hongkong singer to be invited by Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum to be immortalised in wax for display at its Hong Kong museum for his flying colours in Asian showbiz. The wax figure with Andy wearing a 'Tang' costume singing Zhong Guo Ren (literally translated as The Chinese People) during his 1999 concert took 8 months to complete, at a cost of HK$3580,000.

:: andy lau - the businessman ::

Andy wants to work behind the scenes as a producer rather than prance around in front the camera. Says Andy of his new passion, "Although I like acting, the money I earn from it is re-invested into producing my movies." In 1991, Andy forms TeamWork Motion Pictures Limited to produce his own films,with the hope of making movies with creativity and granting new filmmakers opportunities to go into the industry. It's maiden picture is Saviour Of The Soul . Like several others that followed, it is artistically sound but flops at the box-office, therefore squandered millions as a greenhorn film producer. The production house was finally sells off in 1994.

In 1997, Andy's persistence paid off when his invested Fruit Chan's low budget independent film Made in HongKong . Andy as executive producer was overjoy as the HK$500,000 movie, about youth problems in an adult world won numerous international awards including Best Film in 34th Golden Horse (Taiwan) and 17th HKFA.

In the new millennium, Andy invested and collaborate with Clement Mak of CCT Telecoms to re-form to TeamWork Group. The Group is comprised of the following one holding company and four major subsidiaries: TeamWork Corporation Limited, a holding company; TeamWork Motion Pictures Limited which deals with movie production and distribution; Topman Global Limited which deals with artiste management; Topman Holdings Limited which is responsible for ownership and management of all Artist's Intellectual Property Rights in the Content and Films assigned; Andy World Club Limited which engages in the organisation of functions and activities.

Its maiden picture A Fighter's Blue, his 100th movie won him a Best Actor award at the 6th Bauhina Films Awards. The company is also been recognised in Europe, America and Asia with Full Time Killer. Other than satisfying his desire to be a boss in setting up TeamWork, he says: "If I were to act till I'm 60 years old, looking at the economy now, with my high fees, few were had approach me. I as the boss and invest in producing movies, I could have save my own fees but I've chance of filming the movies of my own choice. "

Then, Andy revamps his own production house - New Melody Production into Nova Multimedia Group (NMG), a multimedia company which includes filming TV serials and handling concerts, music albums and artist management. The artistes under his belt includes Dicky Cheung, Alec Su and Coco Lee.

In addition, Andy had been hankering after the Web address, andylau.com, but unfortunately, it was already taken. Thus, he had to make do with andylau.org as his official home in cyberspace. However, he has discovered that andylau.com was registered by a fan of his. What's more, the latter has offered the Web address to his idol, free of charge. After setting up a site there, it was launched on 1 March 2000, it's also the first official celebrity website in Hong Kong. It contains all the most accurate information of Andy. Find out how he feels each day from Andy's Diary, listen to his new songs and check out the official websites of his movies.

However Andy's collaboration with CCT Telecoms turns sour in June 2002 when his artiste management contract expires and was not renewed. CCT Telecoms then send out restriction letters to several production companies from hiring Andy in any sort of performance. Andy then retaliate by sending lawyer's letter seeking HK$15 million worth of salary that TeamWork owned him. Then CCT's subsidiary company Noble Trend International Inc file a lawsuit seeking HK$150 million compensation and an injunction order on Andy for violating shareholders' agreement contract. CCT Telecoms further apply another injuction order on Andy from involving in the movie - Infernal Affairs. This makes Andy exclaim: "This matter makes me see clearly that I'm not make to be a boss, now I just want to be an artist."

The career threatening lawsuit drag on for months and hearing was scheduled to be on 31 October 2002, then allegations and news of an out-of-court settlement with all kinds of conditions started to spread in the newspapers. Indeed the lawsuit had reach an out-of-court settlement on the day of the hearing as Andy got the full control of TeamWork Group without paying a cent. Fans celebrate the occassion with champagne, Andy gave them a thumb up and says: "I'm so happy as all my troubles had been rightfully settled. Currently all matters is passed to my lawyers and the other party request not to reveal the details of the settlement, therefore I'm unconvience to reveal anything, what I can say is I've get back what I deserved. "

Later, Andy regroup his company to form Focus Group to continue his passion in movie production and distribution.

:: his other commitments ::

While much of his time is spent on singing and acting, Lau has never neglected his responsibility to the community. He is a strong supporter of campaigns such as "Keep Hongkong Clean and Be a Good Host." He has worked to raise the awareness of environmental protection and fighting crimes. He is also closely involved with fund raising events for the Hongkong Sports Association for the Physically disabled and acts as Chair Ambassador to many fund raising activities and "Official Ambassador" to charity organizations such as the Life Education Activity Program, the Hongkong Marrow Match Foundation and the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation. In 1994, he established the Andy Lau Charity Foundation, which focuses on people in need and promotes a wide range of youth education services. In February 2001, Andy donated 2,000 pieces of SUPERWARM thermal wear to the Salvation Army for its relief activities in Inner Monglia.

In December 2004, Andy donate HK$200,000 to the victims of the tsunami disasters in South and Southeast Asia. Andylau.com also start a donation drive where fans can donate to the Andy Lau Charity Fund where Andy will represent them to distribute to different charity organizations. Andy said: "Even though this disaster didn't happen in Hong Kong, it happened on the Earth we live on. We should not be distinguished by race and national boundaries right now."

As a public figure, Lau strives to keep a good and healthy image at all times. Being an idol of many teenagers, he knows his behavior and personal conduct can influence them. His dedication to his career, his enthusiasm and drive are well known to the public as the "Andy Lau Spirit". His positive and nice characteristics attract many fans, who support him for so many years.