Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Leslie Cheung

Leslie Cheung

Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing (12 September 1956 – 1 April 2003), nicknamed elder brother (哥哥), was an actor and musician from Hong Kong. Cheung was considered as "One of the founding fathers of Cantopop," and "combining a hugely successful film and music career".

In 2000, Cheung was named Asian Biggest Superstar by China Central Television, and voted as The Most Favorite Actor in 100 Years of Chinese Cinema in 2005.

In 1977, Cheung won second prize by singing Don McLean's "American Pie" at the Asian Music Contest held by Rediffusion Television (RTV). He signed a contract with RTV, which subsequently became Asia Television Limited (ATV) and began his career in the entertainment industry. He also signed a music contract with Polydor Records, releasing Day Dreaming (1977) and Lover's Arrow (1979).

The early days of his career were not easy. He was once booed off the stage during a public performance, and his first two albums were not welcomed by the public. He left Polydor Records at the end of his contract. Cheung's first film, The Erotic Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓春上春) in 1978 was a soft porn film. Cheung later stated that he was unaware of the sexual nature of the film when he signed the contract.

During the 1970s and 1980s, he appeared in a number of TV dramas such as The Young Concubine (我家的女人), Agency 24 (甜甜廿四味), Pairing (對對糊), and The Spirit Of The Sword (浣花洗劍錄). These TV dramas helped turn him into a household name in South East Asia.

In 1982, Cheung joined Capital Artists upon the end of his contract with RTV. It was at Capital Artists that Florence Chan became his music agent and remained as such through his entire career. While at Capital Artists, he also met Anita Mui, another Hong Kong Cantopop idol, starting a long lasting friendship. In 1983, Cheung released his first hit song, "The Wind Blows On" (風繼續吹). In 1984, he released his first top ten hit song "Monica", which became the first so-called "fast" song that won the RTHK Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Award. "Monica" became representative of a new genre of Hong Kong music in the mid 1980s. Fans began to demand fast and energetic Cantopop songs that would be suitable for both dancing and listening. Other Top Ten Gold Songs released by Cheung through Capital Artists included "Wild Wind" (不羈的風) (album, For Your Love Only, 1985); "Who Can Be With Me" (有誰共鳴) (album, Leslie Cheung: Allure Me, 1986) and "Love in Those Years" (當年情) (theme song for A Better Tomorrow, album Leslie Cheung: Allure Me, 1986). "Who Can Be With Me" became the Gold of the Gold Songs (Best Song) of the Year for 1986.

Cheung's movie career was a little slower to take off. He appeared in supporting roles in his second and third movies Encore (1980) and On Trial (1981). However, his acting talent was soon recognized with his nomination for the Hong Kong Film Awards' Best Supporting Actor for his role in On Trial. Subsequently after this nomination, he began to star as the leading man in Teenage Dreamers (1982) and has held the lead role in almost every movie he had been in since. From the early 1980s through 1986, most of the movies in which he had starred were teenage movies. Among them, Nomad (1982, directed by Patrick Tam Kar-ming) is widely considered by film critics as representative of Hong Kong "New Wave" films. Cheung's role as Louis in Nomad won him his first Best Actor nomination of the Hong Kong Film Awards. Later, Cheung stated that he considers Nomad as his first "real" movie. During this period, Cheung continued to act in a number of Television Broadcasts (TVB) dramas, such as Once Upon an Ordinary Girl (儂本多情) and The Fallen Family (武林世家).