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Bad boy rises to the top
( 2003-12-18 09:03) (eastday.com)

Anthony Wong may not be as well-known as Tony Leung or Andy Lau, yet the newly crowned Best Supporting Actor at Taiwan and Hong Kong's film awards was finally recognized for his outstanding performance. Abandoned by his British father in his early childhood, the veteran actor struggled before being accepted by both critics and fans, Michelle Qiao reports.

Deep coffee-hued glasses, deep purple high-collar T-shirt, deep black suit and a pair of faded blue jeans -- the only thing that shines on Hong Kong movie star Anthony Wong Chau-sang is the big silver ring that almost completely covers the little finger of his right hand.

He may not be able to match the rules of the dazzling star fashion world but it definitely looks exactly perfect for his neat, slightly curled hair. This is the style of Wong, whose characters never follow the rules. Wong was in Shanghai last week for local premiere of ``Infernal Affairs 3,'' the last installation in the hit trilogy.

Four days earlier the movie earned him the Best Supporting Actor award at the Golden Horse Awards, Taiwan's version of the Academy Awards. Last year Wong also received the same award at 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards for his excellent performance in this movie series. ``I'm interested in every reward that I haven't got, such as Golden Rooster Awards (on Chinese mainland) and an Oscar, of course,'' he said in Shanghai. ``I think it's important to show foreigners how well Chinese actors can perform.''

The film about undercover cops and criminals was the biggest hit in China last year, both at the box offices and with critics. This year the filmmakers shot two prequels back-to-back. Wong played the role of a police superintendent, the only one who knows the real identity of undercover cop Yan (played by Tony Leung). His natural and subtle performance vividly flesh out the character. ``The movie has surpassed the concept of Hong Kong movies,'' Wong commented. ``In the past, it was the acting that made films wonderful, but this time I feel the film itself is good enough, perhaps too good, for my skill as an actor.

It's naive to believe every Hong Kong film will be like `Infernal Affairs'.'' Born in 1961 to a Chinese mother and a British father, Wong never did well in school, mostly because he was constantly teased about being half-Chinese. Ironically his half-Chinese face is what makes him stand out from Hong Kong's many totally Chinese faces and what won him popularity among fans. After graduation from high school in 1982, he went to study at a radio and television actors' school and later at the Hong Kong Artist School.

Wong has a hugely prolific and varied film career of more than 300 films. Before ``Infernal Affairs'' series, he was most known for playing unhinged, psychotic roles in controversial low-budget films, such as the ``The Untold Story (aka Bunman).'' For this thrilling serial killer role he won the Best Actor award at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 1994. ``I admit that most of my 300 movies are not good, just as it's impossible to have great meals every day,'' says Wong.

``I performed purely for money, and although I have made many films, I still have a large debt. I'm a Buddhist, and it's probably my fate.'' ``I admire his versatile performance,'' says Zhang Kun, a 24-year-old fan of Wong. ``He can play either a policeman or a criminal, a good or a bad man. I like his casual style, his smart and straight answers to interviews. He is a man of many charming details.'' This straight and critical attitude for interviews has given Wong something of a ``bad-boy'' reputation in the Hong Kong film industry.

Simon Yam, another Hong Kong movie star, says Wong is probably the most bad-tempered man in Hong Kong. ``Yes, I am lunatic,'' Wong admits. ``The career of actor is like that of an army man. Now I'm a retired army man.'' ``He is very stereotypically manly,'' says Zhang. ``I especially enjoyed his performances as a supporting actor. He has a magical ability to metaphorize into radically different roles.'' Probably best-known in the West for his role in John Woo's ``Hardboiled,'' Wong has made quite a few movies playing either cops or gangsters. Like many Hong Kong movie stars, he turned his hand to direct ``New Tenant'' and again the following year with ``Top Banana Club.''

Neither film managed much success at the box office. ``I directed the two films because the budgets were so low that they had no money to hire directors,'' explains Wong. In addition to acting and directing, the multi-talented Wong has also made a successful career as a singer with several albums released. ``I feel I'm too old for rock,'' says Wong. ``I have the fire in my heart but not enough energy to burst out singing on stage. I should have played music earlier.'' With regards to music, Wong has some advice for fans. ``When appreciating music, a person should not think too much, not analyze, or not use any theories,'' says Wong. ``Just listen and if the music still lingers around your ears afterwards, it's good. The soundtrack to `Infernal Affairs 3' frequently plays in my mind, but I do not listen to the recorded version because it is very sad.''

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