review by Neo

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A touching journey of Lau Ching Wan…
Lawrence Ah Mon is a director for realistic cinema and in saying that, just takes a glimpse of his body of work and you will understand. Rarely does Ah Mon steps into commercial cinema and in My Name is Fame, he sorts of step a foot in both shores. Following the manner of his Hollywood heavyweights in movies that blur the boundaries of cinema, like Truman Show, director Ah Mon portrays veteran actor Lau Ching Wan is a role that is so comfortably his as he ventures through life of an underachieving veteran actor. Lau Ching Wan is without doubt one of HK best actors of the past decade, but somehow he is without the most treasured reward in the industry – HK Film Award Best Actor. It is both surprising and unbelievable that he is still unrecognized, but in our hearts, quite frankly he is a great actor. Lucky, My Name is Fame recognizes this fact and delivers a moment to remember and more importantly good HK cinema.

The movie basically goes like this: A fading male star becomes the mentor of a rookie actress, who is struggling to be famous...

In the cinema world, the audience is like this, the moment you enter the industry, you are young, raw, talented and natural, everything is new and fresh and the people will support you. The first year is usually the easiest, and then it just gets harder and harder and eventually people begin to forget you. That’s the harsh reality of HK cinema, as the older you get, the more you have to rely on improving your acting and working harder. There are few Andy Laus or Tony Leungs, that’s because it takes a combination of hard work and luck to stay on the top for years after years. Just take a moment and think about all those raw first year talents that have now fallen off the radar – Jade Kwan – a beautiful singing voice who took HK by storm, is now without an album for years. Having the talent is one thing and being popular and remaining popular is totally different.

Lau Ching Wan is a heck of a brilliant actor who can easily steer himself from full blooded roles to being a laughing stock and here he goes for a more mature performance. It is type of performance that in a way signals himself to the audience and also the quality of his acting depth. The way that the audience feels as though Poon Kar Fai is a real actor as we feel for the moments of his downfall and eventual outcome, is both seemingly realistic and quite frankly a role that only Lau Ching Wan can do to perfection. Not unlike the famed Stephen Chow’s King of Comedy, where the moment where Cecilia Cheung uses wasabi to perform a crying sequence remained in Neo’s mind, My Name is Fame smartly converge a raw new talent HUO Siyan into a role that will probably acclaim her with Best New Performer. HUO Siyan’s raw talents are a perfect complement to Lau’s veteran status and the chemistry between them is more believable than unbelievable. HUO Siyan’s acting is clearly raw, but nonetheless, she scores in Neo’s mind.

There are memorable scenes, like the moment when Lau teaches her how act as a “chicken” and the way she reacts almost seduced the immediate audience. Lines from Waise Lee about why he quit acting are classics: “My mum born me as ugly, so I have to quit, as the last time I acted, I was playing a 100 years old evil spirit, if I am still acting, I will probably be playing a 1000 years old evil spirit now!” Those lines are both comical, yet seemingly true about the harsh realities of HK industry. It is ironic to point out when Lau comments about how to be successful in HK, “To be an actress in HK, you do not need talent, you just need to be skinny!” A shallow comment indeed, but can you say that’s not true?

My Name is Fame is what I call good HK cinema and Ah Mon have directed a movie that ventures into the real and commercial side. The touching finale and the redeeming factors of a middle age actor going downhill, isn’t exactly original, but Lau Ching Wan made the role his and combining with some quality directing, My Name is Fame is more real that it should be. The use of interviews is intelligent as it further shows the blurring of boundaries between reality and fiction. Watching a movie like this, just reminds us once again, just how much an actor like Andy Lau have achieved and will continue to achieve. It is daunting to imagine how Andy Lau can fight off all these new talents even after decades and the rest is needless to say. This movie isn’t just another production, but one that finally recognize a hugely underrated actor. Perhaps, Lau Ching Wan will never win a Best Actor Award, but in our hearts, we all know who the hell deserves it…

I rate it 9/10

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Directed by Lawrence Ah Mon; written by James YUEN, FONG Ching, LO Yiu-Fai.

Starring LAU Ching-Wan, HUO Siyan, LI Xiang, YU On-On, TSANG Kwok-Cheung.
Genre: HK Cinema/ Lau Ching Wan/ Coming of Age