Features

Successful Chinese Stars in Hollywood

Writer: Peter Chai

It's not strange to say that Hollywood has taken over the film market in the world, however over several decades; we have been watching iconic actors and actresses from both Hong Kong and China making their way to Tinseltown. Compared to Chinese-American actors in the United States who face so many challenges in developing their showbiz status among the majority of Western entertainers, these Eastern Chinese stars have more advantage in getting themselves in films because they have already gained a credible status and are famous in their home country for years. In this feature, Cinema Online provides you the list of most successful Chinese stars from the East (Hong Kong and China) who have made it to the West (Hollywood).

Jackie Chan

The great chemistry between Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker had charmed audiences through laughter and action moves.

Nobody can deny Jackie Chan's fame in Hollywood. If you ask one to list down his/her action movie heroes, Jackie's name will definitely be somewhere on the top. Spending four decades in the movie industry as an actor, action choreographer, stuntman, director, producer, screenwriter and singer, Jackie Chan is described as the 'guarantee of success at the box office' throughout his long career. He has been first entertaining Asian audiences with his acrobatic fighting skills, use of improvised weapons, comic timing and creative stunts in "Project A", "Police Story" franchise, "Who Am I?" and other classic action-packed movies. In 1994, he grabbed the golden opportunity to enter the Hollywood spotlight after garnering a positive reception and a total gross revenue of $32 million for his action comedy film, "Rumble In The Bronx" at the U.S box office chart. Soon, his popularity in Hollywood and the rest of world increased with his charming and humorous performance through his character, Lee, alongside comedian Chris Tucker, in the "Rush Hour" franchise which grossed a total of $850 million at the worldwide box office.

Bruce Lee


Bruce Lee had made a lasting impression in the mind of the audience with his great spirit in the martial art philosophy and filmmaking.
Fans from around the world, especially those in Hong Kong were shocked and saddened by the-late Bruce Lee's sudden death at the age of 32 in the 70s. However, his huge influence in the Hong Kong martial arts movies and his enormous effort in emphasizing Chinese nationalism while presenting his movie to the eyes of the world remains etched in the moviegoers' mind. At only 18-years-old, Bruce Lee or Lei Siu Long left for America to pursue his education and develop his martial arts skills. He then landed a supporting role named Kato in "The Green Hornet", a TV series with Van Williams, followed by guest appearances in "Ironside" (1967), "Here Comes The Bride" (1969) and "Blondie" (1969). Later on, Lee finally got his big break in the Hollywood film industry with his performances in "The Big Boss", "Fist Of Fury", "Way Of The Dragon" and he was able to capture the Western audiences' attention with his final film, "Enter The Dragon" as the Warner Bros and Golden Harvest's piece grossed US $115 million worldwide.

Jet Li

Jet Li combined his martial arts skills with some innovative stunts in "Cradle 2 The Grave".

He once claimed himself as a big fan of Bruce Lee. With a strong foundation in Chinese Wushu and decent acting skills, Jet Li was one of the popular action superstars in the 90s and he was the first actor from China to enter the competitive Hong Kong movie market. In 1997, he was invited to develop his career in Hollywood and he played a fast-moving villain in Richard Donner's "Lethal Weapon 4", with Academy Award winner Mel Gibson and veteran actor Danny Glover. His co-stars saw his strength in martial arts and at the same time, the American audiences were amazed with his ability to transform his incredible moves into his acting when the movie was released back in 10 July 1998. He continued to shine on the Western silver screen in 2000's "Romeo Must Die", "The One", "Kiss Of The Dragon" opposite Bridget Fonda, Joel Silver's "Cradle 2 The Grave", and "Unleashed" with the one and only Morgan Freeman. His most recent success in Hollywood would be his role as Yin Yang in 2010's "The Expendables", an action star-studded film by "Rambo" star Sylvester Stallone.

Chow Yun Fat

Chow Yun Fat has always been recognized for his intense acting in movies.

The 3-time Hong Kong Film Awards winner first saw small success through Hong Kong TV, starting in the late 70s. He became a household name in Hong Kong for his portrayal of Hoi Man Keong in "The Bund", a drama about the highs and lows of a mobster's life in 1930s Shanghai. Teaming up with director John Woo and Tsui Hark in the 1986's dramatic action masterpiece "A Better Tomorrow" had changed Chow's movie career. In order to duplicate the success he gained in Asia, Chow went on to Hollywood to look for a brighter future. He started his Hollywood debut with Antoine Fuqua's "The Replacement Killers" in 1998. After suffering a failure at the box office for his collaboration with Jodie Foster in "Anna And The King", Chow charmed his audience by playing Li-Mu Bai in Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", which was also the first Chinese film to win an Oscar back in 2001. Legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer also added Chow into the cast of "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End" alongside Johnny Depp. Chow played Sao Feng, a pirate captain in the American blockbuster in 2007.

Gong Li

Gong Li had an intense scene with Rhys Ifans in "Hannibal Rising".

At 21, Shenyang-born Gong Li first gained prominence through her collaboration with Zhang Yi Mou in 1987's "Red Sorghum", a film that won the prestigious Golden Bear Award at the 1988 Berlin International Film Festival. Then, her stunning performance in "Raise The Red Lantern" had earned her an Oscar nomination and international spotlight. After being recognized for her glamorous soul-searching acting skills for so many years, Gong made a grand attempt in her first English-speaking movie, "Memoirs Of A Geisha", as the beautiful and cruel geisha, Hatsumomo. Although Rob Marshall's directorial effort in this movie received mixed reviews, "Memoirs Of A Geisha" managed to reach US $162 million worldwide and won three Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Having gained a place in Hollywood, Li then went on and starred in "Miami Vice", "Hannibal Rising" and the war-thriller "Shanghai", opposite Chow Yun Fat and John Cusack.

Zhang Ziyi

Zhang Ziyi showcased her acting skills through "Memoirs Of A Geisha" alongside fellow Chinese actress, Gong Li.

The media once called Zhang the member of 'Four Yang Dan' actresses in Chinese movie industry. She was the second Chinese female star that attracted international attention after Gong Li. She played Yu Jiao Long in the award-winning film, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", alongside Chow-Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh. She won the Most Promising Award at the 2000 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards and Best Supporting Actress at the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards. She further rose to fame with her first appearance in a Hollywood movie as the foxy lady killer in Jackie Chan's "Rush Hour 2". In 2006, Zhang was nominated at the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and BAFTA Awards for her role in "Memoirs Of A Geisha".

Cinema Online, 26 January 2012


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