Born Chow Sing-Chi in Hong Kong on 22nd June 1962, Stephen Chow spent his youth days with three sisters in Shanghai, China. He developed an interest in the martial arts after witnessing the talent of Bruce Lee, where he began training in the style of Wing Chun, which was one of Bruce Lee’s specialties. His martial arts training served him well to a minimum and he incorporated it in many of his famous action films.
In 1982, he graduated from high school and auditioned for an acting school run by TVB, a Hong Kong television station where he was rejected. His friend ‘Waise’ Lee Chi-Hung (The Legend of the Swordsman, John Woo’s ‘A Better Tomorrow’) helped him out and he was allowed to take night classes. He graduated in 1983 and was hired to host a children’s television program called ‘Space Shuttle 430′ even though he wasn’t fond of children. This didn’t stop him from carrying on his duty as he developed an off-beat rapport with co-stars of the show that audiences loved, which led the program to run for five years. During the show’s final run in 1988, he broke into dramatic roles in numerous television programs and went on to star in his first feature film where actor ‘Danny’ Lee Sau-Yin (City on Fire, John Woo’s ‘The Killer’) cast him in ‘Final Justice’ which earned him an Award for Best Supporting Actor at the 25th Annual Taiwanese Film Awards.
In 1990, he introduced his incredible comedy talent in the film,’All for the Winner’ which was a hilarious spin-off of the film, ‘God of Gamblers’ starring Chow Yun-Fat. The film became such a success that he also starred alongside Chow Yun-Fat in the successful sequel, ‘God of Gamblers 2′. He excelled in the comedy genre and developed a trademark that reinvented his career in years to come as he began doing parodies of Hollywood, Japanese Hong Kong cinema films, such as ‘Fist of Fury 1991′, ‘From Beijing with Love’, and his directorial debut, ‘All’s Well Ends Well’. The parody film, ‘Justice My Foot’ earned him Best Actor of Asia at the Pacific Film Festival.
His idea of combining sports with action kung-fu & comedy came into play in 2002 with ‘Shaolin Soccer’ where some CGI digital effects were used to help create astonishing action sequences with the help of legendary action choreographer ‘Tony’ Ching Siu-Tung who provided a stylized twist to the fights. The film struck gold on release, ranking the highest grossing film in the history of Hong Kong cinema with a record of HK$60 million.
Finally, Hollywood took support of Chow’s comedic skills and Miramax Films bought the distribution rights to ‘Shaolin Soccer’ and released it internationally in 2003. Following the success of ‘Shaolin Soccer’ Columbia Tristar released his next kung-fu comedy project, ‘Kung Fu Hustle’, on which he collaborated with another legendary action choreographer, Yuen Wo-Ping, to create some hard-hitting martial arts sequences, for which Wo-Ping has been famous since the ’70s in Hong Kong.
Stephen Chow’s creativity of action and comedy continues to find new audiences and his work will continue to entertain viewers around the world for years to come.