I haven't written one of these
A Man Called Sanjuro columns in a long while, and now
I return specifically to share a little tale with all of you
readers. What I have to tell you isn't exactly a great story,
but it's almost a great story, and hey, that's gotta count
for something, right? No? Well, don't say I didn't warn you.
I've been a fan of Hong Kong cinema
for quite some time now, so it's always been a dream of mine
to cross paths with an actual HK film celebrity. Actually,
I did happen to see Maggie Cheung at the Hawaii International
Film Festival a couple years back. She served as a judge and
even spoke a bit at a special screening of Comrades, Almost
a Love Story. Unfortunately, she didn't stick around to
take questions and when I tried to take a picture of her,
some lady with a ridiculously large hairdo and even larger
proportions stood up in front of me. And just like that, Ms.
Cheung was gone.
Aside from that fortuitous Maggie
Cheung appearance, about the closest I've gotten to any other
HK movie stars would be either the celebrity handprints over
at the Avenue of Stars or the lifelike dummies at Madame Taussaud's
Wax Museum. Sure, I had my hair cut by Michelle Yeoh's stylist
while visiting Malaysia this summer, and last year I laid
eyes on one of the Jay Chou-driven Toyota Truenos used in
Initial D, but as far as firsthand, honest-to-goodness
star sightings? Aside from Maggie Cheung, it's never happened
for me. Until…
Not too long ago, I had the opportunity
to visit Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong for my summer
vacation. I began my vacation in Singapore, taking trips to
Malaysia and Hong Kong in-between. The weeklong Malaysia visit
resulted in my current shaggy coif courtesy of none other
than Michelle Yeoh's aforementioned stylist (as a result,
I now possess "The Touch." Evildoers beware!). My
HK visit was a bit shorter, and while Kozo and I had a good
time hunting Storm Riders collectibles and dining at
the authentic Chinese eatery known to some as California Pizza
Kitchen, neither of us saw any celebrities. However, the last
leg of my trip involved a return to Singapore. Jackpot.
When it was finally time to head
back to the States, I found myself chowing down on some surprisingly
tasty congee at a food court in Changi Airport. Basically,
I was hanging out with my family before saying my last goodbyes
and then proceeding through security for the customary groping.
But before that could happen, I heard a sudden commotion from
the booths on the other side of the small, mostly deserted
food court. And that's when I had my second real-life HK actor
Before I could really gather my bearings,
there he was: the Man with the Tan himself, Louis Koo. If
I were slightly demented, I could argue that it was fated
that I run into the guy; it was, in many ways, the summer
of Louis Koo for me. For one thing, I finally bought, watched,
and enjoyed Election 2 during my vacation. Not convinced?
Well, I also happened to read an interview Koo gave with Singapore's
Eight Days magazine in which he revealed his penchant
for collecting life-sized action figures. Apparently, he owns
some giant-sized Star Wars, Spider-Man, and Batman statues,
a detail that I happily shared with my girlfriend in order
to justify my own raving toymania. Still don't see the "date
with destiny" angle of this encounter? Read on. In addition
to buying Election 2 and reading the interview with
Louis Koo, I kept seeing the man's face plastered all over
Singapore: the guy apparently has a lucrative endorsement
deal with a line of massage chairs. Go figure.
So yeah, obviously, I was fated to
meet Louis Koo this summer. Of course, that's all crazy talk.
By that logic, I was "destined" to bump into Sammi
Cheng as well. I mean, seriously, that chick's face was more
ubiquitous than Koo's. All over South East Asia, Sammi was
hawking everything from watches to moisturizer to handguns.
Okay, that last one's a lie. Still…um, what was my point?
Ah yes, I saw Louis Koo. Sadly, there's
not much to tell about the encounter. Koo was gone in less
than five seconds. I didn't talk to him. I didn't get an autograph.
And I didn't approach him for a picture. I just watched as
he briskly walked away and politely handled the fans that
apparently did possess the wherewithal to actually
Now, you would think that would be
the end of the story. But you would be wrong. Y'see, I also
ended up having my third firsthand HK celebrity encounter.
Just as I'm trying to figure out whether I should have gotten
up and said hello to Louis Koo, guess who else walks by when
the coast clears? Daniel Wu. But just like Koo, he's
gone before I can do anything about it. Damn.
Now, my first thought was, "Do
these guys take summer vacations together?" The two of
them are actually appearing together in the Derek Yee-directed,
Singapore-co-financed film entitled The Protégé,
but I didn't know that at the time. Andy Lau is in the movie,
too, but sadly he did not emerge from any of the food court
booths. Instead, I just watched with baited breath as assorted
entourage, regular joes, and quite possibly a Mainland Chinese
actor I've never seen before passed by my table. No Andy Lau.
No Derek Yee. Heck, nobody from Daniel's Wu's "band"
If I could go back and do things
over again, I'd like to think I would have tried to be more
proactive and perhaps gotten a picture or an autograph. But
what would I say? "I'm your biggest fan"? Sure,
I like both actors, but "biggest fan"? That's just
not true. Or to Louis Koo: "I really enjoyed your performance
in Election 2; please take a picture with me."
That seems kinda lame.
And what about Daniel Wu? If I had
seen Heavenly Kings at the time (which I later did
and thought was hilarious), I could have come up with something
complimentary, perhaps even vaguely amusing to him, but I
hadn't even opened the packaging on the DVD yet, much less
watched it. Leaving Wu alone was probably for the best since
the only comment that came to mind -- "Your acting has
gotten a lot better since Gen-X Cops!" -- seemed
As a Hong Kong cinema fan, I can't
fully explain why I just let those two walk on by. My only
answers are that A) it happened really, really fast, B) I
don't really like to bother people, and most importantly,
C) I'm not a big enough fan of either of them to leap over
both my family members and the table between us just to pursue
Louis Koo and Daniel Wu for a photo op, especially in an airport
only a few days after the terrorist scare in England went
down. Call me crazy, but cavity searches just aren't my thing.
if it had been Jet Li, Faye Wong, Chow Yun-Fat, Sammi Cheng,
or Andy Lau, I might have risked it. I can damn well assure
you if I saw Ekin Cheng, I would have ran up to him, got his
signature, and perhaps even forced him take a funny photo
with me -- I mean, I have a moral obligation to this site,
after all. But for some odd reason, I didn't go the extra
mile with these guys. No picture. No autograph. Just a silly
little anecdote about celebrity spotting. See, I told you
this was almost a good story.