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Stephen Chow: the Latest Asian Hero
Having appeared in more than 50 films and won numerous Hong Kong Film Awards, Stephen Chow (Zhou Xingchi) was chosen as an "Asian Hero" by Time Magazine this week.

The actor was born in Hong Kong in June 1962. In his childhood, he was fascinated by Bruce Lee, much like other children his age.

Stephen Chow was nine years old in 1971 when Bruce Lee's triumphant Hong Kong film, "The Big Boss" debuted.

It was a huge hit and he began to study martial arts. It is said that his friends sometimes had to call him "small dragon."

In 1982, after graduating from high school, Chow auditioned for Hong Kong's TVB (television station) acting school, but didn't make the cut.

However, through an acquaintance, he was able to take night classes and, the next year, was chosen to be master of ceremonies of the children's program "430".

He was not fond of children, which made it difficult for him, but his performance went over well and he stayed on the show for five years.

For several years after that, he worked on a variety of programs, and moved into drama, becoming even more popular.

In 1988, Chow played one of the leads in the movie "Final Justice (Pili Xianfeng)", winning Best Supporting Actor at the Taiwan Academy Awards. It was his first film.

He had his first starring role in 1990 in a Chow Yun-Fat spoof: "All for the Winner (Du Sheng)" (1990) and started excelling in the comedy genre.

Chow became the number one Hong Kong film actor of the 1990s, earning more than Jackie Chan by as much as two times. He made 29 films from 1990 to 1993.

Chow's style at the time of "All for the Winner" was called "Makes No Sense (wulitou)". This style established his popularity in the 90s as a comic actor.

Chow has also shown an interest in aspects of film production.

He challenged the first director of his James Bond spoof "From Beijing with Love (Guochan 007)" (1994). He became more concerned with the production side of movie-making with the "Journey to the West (Dahua Xiyou)". And, he directed and starred in "Shaolin Soccer (Shaolin Zuqiu)", which was successful both in China and in the US.

Chow is one of the last Hong Kong stars not to have been bought out by Hollywood.

(21st Century May 8, 2003)

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