我手头有一份打入电影排行榜前十名中国华语电影名单，是由香港Cinema Express（I don’t know how to translate it.）选出的，旨在增加他们的12000名日本成员。这是从1997年在日本首次放映的影片中推选的结果，我想作为资料来说是有点儿陈旧了，但是它却让我很有点儿吃惊。《春光乍泻》以绝对优势居于首位，其次是《歌剧魅影》（《夜半歌声》），排在第三位的是《天涯海角》（译者：我不能确定是不是这部？演员有王敏德、陳慧琳、金城武），但是接着，排在第四位的是《大三元》。Leslie出演的所有影片都排进了前四名。《春光乍泻》的获胜我可以理解，但是另外两部影片质量并不太好。排在第五名的《甜蜜蜜》，排在第八名的《舞台姐妹》比这两部要更好些。显而易见，这是一种现象，我称之为“只要是Leslie演的电影，什么都是好的”。
你还会发现，有一部公众并不熟悉的影片[Chinese gender]（不知是什么影片？）排在第三十五名。这是一部记录片，只在东京电影节期间在Shibuya上演过一次。这是就性别分配问题对一些包括Leslie在内的演员的采访资料集，由Stanley Kwan导演。
相比之下，Ms. Ikuko Ishihara的电影评论更知名。除了这篇之外，她还写了许多关于Leslie的文章。
It was one autumn night of 1998 when I met Leslie Cheung for the first time. He showed up by himself to the hotel coffee shop where we had our first meeting for this project. He was in very casual style, wearing cotton jacket and cotton pants, bearded for shooting. When I introduced myself, he smiled and shook hands with me saying, ‘Nice to meet you’.
‘Unexpectedly big and manly,’ was my first impression on him. Besides, his manner was also very casual and unaffected. ‘Water please’, he asked the waiter as soon as he sat down, and then ‘and orange juice’ ‘Let me see the menu,’ (for us) ‘Have you eaten yet? Ah, you’ve already had your meal. Then may I eat here? I’m really hungry….One chicken curry, please.’ Our first meeting had started just like that, with his eating curry, as if we were planning about a mah-jong tournament.
I was totally stunned and became easier by this too casual condition than I expected, though I had been very nervous about doing a job with this mysterious superstar until then. Later, I found that this is his way to make people feel relax, and I heard from many staff members that he is an expert to ease one’s tension immediately even for the first meeting.
My impression on Leslie’s image was much different. He doesn’t like media people, and every once in a while he talks to the press, his comments are often too straight and highly controversial, going his own way and cares nothing people say and think about him. And moreover, he is ‘feminine’, capricious and wayward …… So I thought he would be exhausting company, even though his character is still attractive to his fans. But these images were completely overthrown from our first encounter.
The true face of Leslie was in no way capricious nor wayward, and look where I might, I was unable to find his ‘feminine’ parts.
His way of acting and thinking was manly than that of average person. He is candid and unaffected, a man of fortitude, instead of his slight build. All the impressions I had were wrong, except his delicate sensibility and his peculiar beautiful expression and moves.
His fortitude character and delicate sensibility looks contradictory, but there seems to be many contrarieties mixed in him. Manly character and soft, beautiful face; straight, impulsive expression, and too careful tenderness; strong instinct for self-defense, which makes him distant from others sometime, and free, unrestrained acts showing his everything if necessary.
It is such a contradictory character that makes him as it is, and the reason of his inexhaustible unusual charm. The better I was getting to know him, the more I became certain of my feeling.
‘Human is just like a kaleidoscope,’ aptly he said in his interview. But I think there’s no one who shows this kaleidoscope so vividly than Leslie himself. Many people treated him a narcissist, but in my opinion, it is only one phase of his kaleidoscope showing his professionalism as an entertainer. If you look only at this side of him, you will be tricked by his expectation.
Now back to our photo book project. It took a total of 16 days for the whole project, including the interviews, photo sessions, the report on location shooting and the ‘One day with Leslie’.
We took 3 days for the interview with Leslie. We originally planned for it 2 days only, but when I listened the tapes in my hotel room, I found there was still something more I wanted to know, and I asked him for an extra day for the interview. ‘I feel like I have told you almost everything in my life. Is there anything missing?’ He accepted my request with a mischievous smile.
There are many famous episodes that many fans already knew very well, but we dare to ask him to talk about his whole life by his own words under the concept of ‘From his childhood to the Future’.
But yet, you could still find some topics which he talked about for the first time. I think he had never said anything about his view on love and marriage, and his friend, Mr. Tong.
I’m afraid we couldn’t include every single word he said due to limited space, but I am sure you could know more about him from the interview, his way of life, his view towards life and love; and his passion for his work.
We finished the interview with the topic on the coming musical, but actually he ended this long interview with different words. I am repeating these words here, because they indicated his current state of mind very well.
“There were so many things happened in my 42 years, hardships, humiliations, happy things, shameful things …. I went through all these experiences. Now that I became not to be surprised at anything easily. These days I think, whatever happened, `So, this is life.’
There are something about the photographs in the book which I like to mention. First of all, about the photos of Leslie’s childhood. They came from the photo album of his brothers and sisters. Leslie said, “ I moved so many times that I couldn’t keep any photos of my childhood”, and he kindly borrowed these photos from his brothers and sisters.
The picture of his dearest person, Sister six (六姐), was from the photo stand in his room. It impressed us that he treated it as a treasure, and said, “I have no other picture of her, so this is very precious to me.”
The self-portrait, at the last 4 pages in the [Temptation], was taken by Leslie himself, in the bathroom of Hotel Bela Vista, Macau. We left him alone in the bathroom and were waiting outside for him. After a while, he came out with an exciting face, and said, “Ah, it was so amusing! I’ve never taken my own photo. It was really exciting.” “What kind of photo? ” I asked, “They are photos of very bad kids,” he answered with a grin. I smiled when I looked them after developing. I gave him 3 themes as image for the self-portrait, they were `childhood’ `love’ and `the future’.
[Leslie’s holiday] was a very bold project, which covered one whole day from waking up in his bedroom.
As you know, he has a policy not to disclose his private life, so when we proposed this idea to him he said he needed some time to consider it. But finally he said OK , only if we wouldn’t show his house clearly how it is. Maybe this was the first time the camera was allowed to in his house.
In this part, he made many cute poses and expressions in his bed, awkwardly, jokingly. Watching him romping with the blanket like a kitten, I thought this might be his real self, not as a superstar Leslie Cheung.
But, though he was full of fun and mischief, we were overwhelmed by his sexy charm, it was many times more attractive than in any of his movies. Anyone who was on the set would feel like to hug him. These photos in his bed were so wonderful, that we used them not only for [The waking up] but for the [Portrait] .
Those in his bathroom, and with his pet dog Bingo, are also the first, precious snapshots.
We made so many bold requests to Leslie, taking advantage of his understanding and his wish for making a good book. He was very tolerant, rejected nothing and trusted us perfectly, and we really want to make this book good enough to meet his expectation.
All in all, Leslie who was so manly and gallant to us, looks so cute, beautiful and sexy in the book. Even I was so close to him, watching the whole shooting, am being embarrassed by this gap. I feel all the borders and the categories, including man or woman, are meaningless and vague in front of him. “ I don’t care, you can believe whichever you like”. I fancy him looking me with that pure, innocent eyes, whispering in his husky voice.
Leslie as an actor
Bewitchingly, delicately, beautifully---Leslie Cheung, The belle of the Hong Kong films
By Ikuko Ishihara*
An original translation by Sako
Here I have a Top 10 ranking of Chinese films, chosen by the members of the Hong Kong Cinema Express**, boosting its 12 thousand members in Japan. This is a result that was chosen from the films which first released in Japan in 1997, a little old statistics I’m afraid, but it is amazing for me. [Happy together] won the best picture overwhelmingly. Then [The Phantom of the Opera] came next, the third was O[Lost and Found] , but again, the forth was [Tri-Star]. You can see all movies starring by Leslie ranked within Top 4. I can understand the win of [Happy together], but the other two were not the movies with such a good quality. ([Comrades, almost a love story],the fifth, [Stage door],the eighth, were much better). Obviously, I should call it the phenomenon of “Everything O.K. so long as Leslie’s film”.
And you can also find the unfamiliar film called [Chinese gender] at the 35th. This is the documentary film showed only once in Shibuya during the Tokyo film Festival, the compilation of the interview to the actors (including Leslie Cheung) about the gender allotment, directed by Stanley Kwan.
This show didn’t promote at all, but so many people rushed to see that some couldn’t enter and gave up.
Anyway, almost 3/4 of the members, who could be considered as the most acquainted with the Chinese movies, was to submit to the Leslie’s charm.
In comparison with that, the same ranking in 1996 showed more reasonable result. The winner was [He ain’t heavy, he’s my father] (starring by Tony Leon), the second, [Fallen angel] (by Leon Lai), the third, [Ashes of Time] (by Leslie Cheung), the forth, [Summer Snow] (by Josephine Shao), and the fifth,[Temptress moon]. This result was in proportion to the movie’s charms and the artistic quality, and I could admit they could chose [good movie] objectively in this year. But the next year, They lost their cool judgement, due to their ‘”adoring Leslie”.
Besides, Leslie has been winning the best actor 6 times continuously, and this record will never be broken. ’92[Days of being wild], ‘93/’94[Farewell to my concubine], ‘95[He’s a woman, she’s a man],’96[Temptress moon], and ‘97[Happy together]. (He also ranked seventh in the best actress category!) That is, he has been starring the good films for a long time, but here in the [Happy together], his charm became overwhelmingly enough to make the audience lose their control.
Why on earth is everyone infatuated with Leslie this much? I couldn’t recognize such a strong aura from him, when I met him in the press conference or else. He was very polite, agreeable in a way, rather than with a strong personality. He dressed neatly, but in a moderate, casual way, and he was very handsome but so-called a typical Asian face and build. That’s why I couldn’t find anything special from him.
However, Andy Lau, who co-starring in [Shanghai Grand], showed a befitting “brilliance”, for example. But the surprising fact is that it was Leslie who impressed me most, not Andy who spoke in dead earnest, when I looked back later. Leslie was tactful, inserted some impressive words into the casual conversation, clearly insisted his opinion if necessary, of course with bright smile, and lightly parried an embarrassing question. First, he looked passive, but everyone there was dragged into his pace unnoticed. “He is really professional. No one can do that! ” I was greatly impressed afterwards, but he behaved so naturally and wrapped everything in his gentle manner that I couldn’t noticed it when he was in front of me.
So, Leslie is “sly”. Say, Knaeshiro Takeshi, He always behaves as he is, but Leslie acts even his private self out of the stage and the screen. He opened up our hearts with his innocent smile, but behind this open and honest smile, he knows the effects of that. In addition, he understand the timing he‘d better show something a little strict face instead the smile, and do it appropriately. At the same time, he has never done such mistakes, like talking a dull, seeming to follow the how-to book just like a first-rate student, that is done by a lot of other stars. He looks enough to be natural and cheerful as he is, and yet he is attentive even to his finger’s moves. He is a tempter by nature, and it got to get natural for him to produce himself perfectly. If you try to see deeply inside him, you can find his high intelligence, delicate sensibility, and the pride as a number one actor in Hong Kong behind that cheerful smile, but he never show them unless it is necessary. He attracts people too easily, too well. And we are unable to resist the pleasant feeling to be taken in his lead. He is such an attractive even when he seems to be relax, there is no word to describe him, when he is to act with make himself up, “irresistible”. Sometimes he looks to be intoxicated himself, but in fact, he has a good grasp of the reaction from the audience. Once he said that the sweet breaths, which you can hear in his songs, is not unconscious one, but with knowing the effect of that. He never lose his self-control, how deeply he dedicates himself to the role.
He is still very active as an actor and as a singer, though he retired once from both careers for learning movie producing. I suppose he was very serious each time. At that time, he would hope to be a film maker rather than an actor. At that time, he would believe that he should retire when he was at the top. Maybe there was his aesthetic sense that a director is more artistic than an actor, and that it is the most admirable way to retire when you are young and beautiful. In other words, it is a will to make his presence to be “the most beautiful one”. This attitude shows me his honesty and pureness towards beauty, though the way is very simple in a sense. However, there were too many calls from his friends and fans, who couldn’t allow him retire. And I guess he himself didn’t know what to do with his full of gift. Then he adjusted his direction again, but he has never changed his attitude to be “the most beautiful one”. And it is terrific because he performed in many masterpieces and praised more than before.
Leslie began to draw some attention at the beginning of the 80’s in Japan, as No.1 idol singer in Hong Kong and also as an actor who could act well unlike an ordinary idol. But I remember it was from [A better tomorrow] ‘86, that he appealed us clearly. It was an unforgettable experience for me. To compared with Chow Yun-fat’s straight character as a man of integrity, Leslie’s distorted, shadowed complexity. Though he did many action scenes, still there was something tender and gentle. In this movie, women didn’t play important role very well and guys were overwhelmingly attractive, but it was Leslie who made this movie to be more than only action movie, by his tender atmosphere.
In [A better tomorrow], Leslie played very innocent young guy. And again, in [The Chinese ghost story], he also played innocent, pure and simple man. The ghost was moved to his innocence not to covet her body. In [Tri-Star], he tried to help the prostitutes and he was stoical as a priest, though there was a kiss-scene with Anita Yuen just once. Strange to say, Leslie, who seems to be sexy itself, fit in very well with such a “sexless” role. His clear eyes, as if knowing nothing ugly in this world, staring straight at us. His graceful, dignity in the way reminds me his private history stemming from good family. Refreshing brilliance just like a spring breeze. He looks very pure, and this purity is a kind of young, helpless boy, who doesn’t have both power and money. And also, he looks very free, crosses over any border of gender easily. He has never been slaved to the convention that a man should do (or be) like this. I mentioned that he got to be named in a best actress ranking before, (though he didn’t act this kind of roll except [Farewell to my concubine]). And this pointed out his flex character very well. He cut down the yoke of gender, with the words “I don’t care if you are a man or a woman. All I know is that I love you”, in [He’s a woman, She’s a man]. Talking about [The Chinese Ghost Story], it would be really shameful character-remember the scene that Leslie was pushed into the bathtub and helped by Joy Wong?-if you stick to the manhood. But Leslie was so cute and attractive in it.
However, such a gentle, pure character of him was treated cruelly very often. In [A Better Tomorrow 2], he was killed brutally. Chow-Yun-Fat played stable character, that we could relief that he would never die till the last, Leslie, on the contrary, alarmed us from the beginning by his situation-doing a dangerous undercover duty, though his wife was in the last month of pregnancy.
And how impressive that long scene of his dying! It wrung our heart to see him covered with blood, breathing faintly. He played this scene so beautifully, as if he was fascinated by himself.
You can find the same kind of beauty in [Farewell to my concubine]. He acted the opera star, who dedicated his life to the love with no return, and was toyed by fate in the changing history. He sometimes gave a glance with deep sorrow at no one, and it was so awfully beautiful that I felt that he dare to be treated cruelly so that he would be more beautiful.
And I found his own ultimate beauty in the moment when he was finally “fallen” after he had been tortured mercilessly. Even when he was falling, there still was another he inside, who were looking up high, still keeping the pure, gentle and innocent eyes, that made me more strongly feel the “fallen beauty” of him.
Wong Ka-Wai drew this charm of “fallen beauty” from Leslie most. [Days of being wild] brought him the best actor award in Hong Kong and a chance to come back. It also indicated his talent as an actor in the artistic movie, which was far different from the familiar action or comedy in Hong Kong. He acted a guy, who was leading an idle life, with a yearning toward his real mother. At last he left, though he was loved by two women.
Both his expressions and moves were rough, but they were so sexy and mysteriously graceful as if they were the dace perfectly composed. That fresh passion, for which he could dare lose his life. The long and dark time that was decaying until the last, brilliant moment.
In this movie, he was cruel to the girls, but he was cruel most to himself. He tormented himself, like he knew that he was most beautiful when he was treated in that way.
“The beauty in the falling”---. That’s why he looks greater in dishabille rather than stark nude.
At that time, the two sexes would dissolve in him gently. The ultimate performance of this beauty would be that acclaimed tango dance in his concert ’97, but speaking of movies, maybe the historic dramas are better to express it, because the costumes in such dramas are usually intricate and gorgeous and enhance Leslie’s brilliance.
He appealed even in comedy films, such as [It’s a wonderful life] or [The eagle shooting heroes/ Dong Cheng Xi Jiu], though he once said that he thought of himself not suited to this kind of comedy movies. But [The Bride with White Hair] is more than unforgettable. Brigitte Lin showed valiant figure, while Leslie showed pure-hearted sweetness. How beautiful he was in such a distraction as the love scene in the water! In this scene, both of them were wearing soft, long-sleeved cloth soaked to the skin, and water trickled down their cheeks and lips, with disheveled hair. [The Ashes of Time], in which there were elaborately action scenes, remains us only a shadow of prompt illusion. But Leslie’s longing look with a thousand thoughts to his lost love, or his lonesome, nihilistic and stoical glance formed the keynote of this ambiguous, but sentimental film. The classical pleated cloths in this film also gave him a kind of bisexual sweet atmosphere.
The cloths in the middle of the ancient and the present, 1920-1930 period, also very suits him, but the air of this age does more suit him. In [The Temptress Moon],its background was an ”enchanted city” Shanghai, he was a lady-killer in the white suit.
He treated women cruelly as professional gigolo, with distorted hatred in his heart, and these arts of coaxing captivated us completely. Besides, the expressions of sorrow, anxiety, and grief, when he was hugging Gong Lee in his arms, were more than unforgettable. He was running into the tragedy himself, but again, we found a kind of sweet eroticism in his despair glance.
[The rouge], in this film Leslie’s every kind of charm, such as a pure-hearted lover, as a sophisticated woman-killer, grace, and weakness, was all elicited. Especially, he was great in love scene, showing sweet expression with half-closing eyes with long eyelash, and with opening good shaped lips.
In [The Shanghai Grand], Leslie was not a sweet lover but a lone wolf. As he was in [A Better Tomorrow], Leslie was treated very cruelly. In its last scene, he was beautifully dressed up in black suit, and he made it perfect by bloody hurt.
Anyhow, I hove to say about [Happy Together]. As for Leslie, he can be attractive to whom no matter it was a man or a woman .His self- torment beauty is exceptional in this film. Spoiled, selfish, sly, and a liar. Exploits his friend as he wants, but never allow anyone to occupy him. Tony thought he has had quite enough of him, but he couldn’t refuse him once Leslie came back. This should be so-called unpleasant, disliked character. But why it turned to be such an attractive character when it was Leslie? We can share the happiness with Tony, when he was feeding Leslie or when he was wiping Leslie’s body.
Though he already had been in his 40’s, Leslie is still getting more brilliant as if he had been polished by every affair with many men and women. It would be his deep, complex and unique attractions that make him so special among these many handsome stars.
He is a great belle without a parallel in Asia. ( I know that “belle” is a word for women, but it suits him more than anybody) I deeply appreciate to be living in the same period with him.