On April 1, 2003, the world lost one of its great movie stars; but virtually the entire Asian diaspora knows that we also lost one of our most exquisite pop singers, most seductive sex symbols, most potent gay icons and most beloved celebrities, for Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing was (impossibly) all of these. While millions of eastern-hemisphere listeners were entranced by his angelic voice and provocative musical performances, here in the west Leslie was known as the gorgeous, charismatic star of the gay-themed arthouse classics Farewell, My Concubine and Happy Together. What may not be so well-known in English-speaking territories is that Leslie was a tremendously gifted actor whose range encompassed both gay and straight, drama and comedy, romance and action.
For this tribute, we wanted to celebrate and share as many of Leslie Cheung’s unique gifts as possible, and so we’ve assembled a program that will show Leslie the actor, Leslie the singer, and (via tributes from many of his contemporaries) Leslie the Person. The seven films selected—one period fantasy, three comedies, two contemporary dramas and one action romance— comprise a period in Hong Kong cinema that extends from 1991 (Once A Thief) to 2002 (Inner Senses), thus illuminating not just Leslie’s astonishing ability to give a brilliant performance in any genre, but also offering up a small capsule history of a decade of Hong Kong film, for Leslie was the region’s most enduring celestial figure. Whether playing a gay lover adrift in Argentina, a comically-desperate filmmaker, a millionaire songwriter with some gender confusion issues, a gangster with cooking aspirations, or a mature yet vulnerable psychiatrist, Leslie’s seeming effortlessness and sheer radiance always delight.
As a singer, Leslie was “Gor-gor,” or “older brother,” whose star appeal began with a 1976 television performance of “American Pie” and continued unabated up through 2000, when Leslie came out onstage, acknowledging his twenty-year relationship with his partner Daffy Tong. In a society often thought to be homophobic, Leslie’s status, if anything, only increased, proof of not just his talent but also his personal grace. Leslie the Person was adored by friends and fans alike, and his death left a cosmic void in the Hong Kong entertainment community.
But our intent with this tribute is to dwell on Leslie’s life, not his death, and to share some of his remarkable achievements with an audience that may be new to “the Legend.” As his friend and frequent collaborator Tsui Hark said in memorium: “…all I can do right now is to reminisce, cherish, and treasure everything you’ve left behind.” We couldn’t have put it better, except perhaps to add—thank you, Gor-gor.
*Inner Senses is generously sponsored by Tai Seng Video Marketing
(Inner Senses ticket includes film, reception and special video presentation by Tsui Hark and AFF.)
Special thanks to: Tsui Hark and Nansun Shi, Anita Chan, David Chute, Hong Kong Vintage Pop Radio, HKEntReview.com, Kent Adamson & Brett Thompson Productions, Kino International, Andy Klein, Jhemon Lee, Lisa Morton, LoveHKFilm.com, Parcca Music, Inc., Pinetree Ltd., Regent Showcase Theater, Tai Seng Video Marketing, and our community supporters:Asian Professional Exchange (APEX), Click2Asia, Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA-GLA), Project by Project Southern California andYoung Generation Asian Professionals (YGAP)
The Chinese Feast
Tsui Hark’s nutty mix of Hong Kong hilarity and gourmet food worship. (108 min)
Theatre closed (5:30p-6:30p)
Inner Senses – LA PREMIERE
Leslie Cheung’s final portrayal of inner turmoil and life on the edge. (104 min)
*Inner Senses ticket includes film, reception and special video presentation by Tsui Hark and AFF.
SUNDAY, DEC. 7, 2003
Bride With White Hair
Ronny Yu’s lavish martial arts masterpiece. Romantic and action-packed. (90 min)
Wong Kar-Wai’s visual genius highlights this gay love story set in Argentina. (98 min)
Ultra sexy, scathing look at the colorful Hong Kong adult film industry. (99 min)
Once A Thief
John Woo, Chow Yun-Fat and Leslie Cheung. What are you waiting for?! (108 min)
All films in Cantonese with English subtitles.
General admission $9.50. Discount series passes available: all seven films and a special tribute presentation for $40.00.
Regent Showcase Theater
614 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, California. Box office open Mon-Sat from 12 noon to 5 p.m. or call 323.934.2944.
Discounts to members of our community supporters: