Thursday, October 27, 2011

100 Hot Men and a Dame: #92 Tony Leung Chiu-wai

92. Tony Leung Chiu-wai
Occupation: Actor
Nationality: Hong Kongese (?)
Age: 49
Best Known For: A wide variety of films in various genres with many of Asia's most prominent filmmakers, most famously (at least in the West) Wong Kar-wai.

Here today to lend a hand in this (long delayed) installment is JD from Valley Dreamin' (and from his Twitter). Enjoy!

Dame James: When did you first encounter Tony and, if it wasn't love at first sight, when did you first fall in love with him?

JD: My first taste was definitely Hero, which I somehow saw in theatres (it was my first non-English language film!). It laid the framework for my adoration but I was too young at the time. By the time I saw In the Mood for Love and 2046, though, I was old enough and it was like being hit with a dreamily melancholy, romantic shovel. Then Lust, Caution happened. Oh boy, Lust, Caution.

DJ: I had seen Hero (which I ALWAYS mix up with House of Flying Daggers) and In the Mood for Love in high school, Lust, Caution early in college. But it wasn't until watching Chungking Express a couple years ago that I fell in love with him. Suddenly, I was hit by a dreamily melancholy, romantic shovel, as you so eloquently put it. In what has become a recurring theme already in this series, I have a thing for melancholic characters who are trapped in a "funk" and need to be brought out of it. The fact that I want to be the Faye Wong character who does cutesy/stalkerish things to help him get over his romantic heartbreak, all to the tunes of "California Dreamin'" and "Dreams", is shocking in and of itself because we all know I'm extremely lazy when it comes to romantic stuff. But Tony is just so adorable, having a conversation with his bar of soap.

Three questions:
1. Tony Leung is nearly 50 (FIFTY!) and looks almost exactly the same as he did 20 years ago. God bless those Asian genes! Is this racist?

2. Happy Together. Just how much did you want to kill Tony's awful gay lover in that movie? Like, how did someone as amazing as him ever get stuck with such a lowlife?

3. I cannot, for the life of me, remember much about Lust, Caution. Did Tony go full frontal?

JD: I was waiting for you to bring up Chungking. <3 You're absolutely right, and it's my greatest moment with him, as well. He's so perfect in it; his demeanor, his charm, his talking-to-inanimate-objects-in-his-underwear thing. And Faye Wong is ALSo perfect, and they just make each other more and more perfect, and GOD I LOVE THAT MOVIE. I just watched it a couple weeks ago on a whim, actually. Such a sweet, dreamy pick-me-up.


1. LOL, I don't know. But that is the fucking truth. I think he's just Dorian Gray-like. He's still in such great shape, too. It's gratuitous.

2. I KNOW. It's such a depressing film, but it rings so true - people suck, and sometimes the best are weighed down by the worst. (Also, Tony is clearly at his best with Wong Kar-Wai, isn't he?)

3. Not fully, but you COULD plainly see his dick going in and out of Tang Wei! It's probably still the most outlandishly frequent, rough sex I've ever seen in a film. (15 year old me appreciated it though).

DJ: I'm actually surprised you didn't bring up Chungking yourself but maybe you were feeling generous that I'm not great with Asian cinema and you've seen so much more than I have. Either way, I'm glad we are both fully on board the Appreciation Train for him in that movie. I loved him the first time I saw it, but I don't think it was until the second go-around that I truly fell in love with him. Then again, everything about the second half of that film is perfect. <3 indeed.

I haven't seen a lot of the Leung/Kar-wai films in ages so they are a bit fuzzy in my memory (and I'm still missing out on Ashes of Time, 2046 and probably something else I'm not thinking of right now), but I do think they work well together. And they are in such different styles and moods--although it could be argued that Wong Kar-wai IS his own style and mood--that you have to respect Tony's adaptability. He's probably one of the most respected Asian actors in the world, but it still doesn't feel like he gets enough respect, especially compared to European stars who have gone international. Either way, Tony's still one of the best, and most desirable, actors in the world.

Confession: Tony Leung is the only Asian person to appear on my list. I tried to be inclusive of all nationalities and races but 90% of my list is still white Americans/Europeans. I do find some Asian men in addition to Tony attractive--Rain, for example, and the guy who starred with Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet--but generally they do nothing for me. I know I can't be attracted to EVERYONE, but damn, I feel terrible about it. 


Anonymous said...

It's sad that someone who writes with such wit and humor has to do so with the underlying tone of racism.

Hong Kongese? I mean really?

That confession at the end does nothing to help either. It's your list and so obviously it will lean towards your personal preference so why feel the need to cover your bases with an obligatory "I feel terrible about only including one Asian but I do find some other attractive" confession? It really acts a poor way of hiding some of the real problems in this post.

Oh and by the way Rain was not in The Green Lantern. The film you are referring to is The Green Hornet and the actor's name is Jay Chou. You should really get your facts straight. I guess it doesn't really matter when they all look the same right?

Dame James said...

Looks like I have some esplainin' to do.

First of all, I actually looked on Wikipedia prior to finishing this post because I had no idea what a person from Hong Kong was called. The article simply called them "Hong Kong people" which didn't make sense to me, but they also said "Hongkongese" was acceptable to use. I wrote it out as "Hong Kongese" only so my readers knew what I was talking about. If that's not appropriate, I apologize, and that's why I added the question mark at the end. It was my way of adding "Not sure if this right but I'm going with it".

Secondly, I added that coda at the end as a way of inviting discussion about race and standards of beauty. Perhaps it was clumsy and not all together thought out, but I meant no harm. Sorry if you took offense to it.

If you read the ending carefully, you'll see that I said "Rain, for example, and the guy who starred with Seth Rogen in The Green Lantern [sic]". I know that they are not the same person and I resent your tone that I think all Asian people look the same. And The Green Hornet/Lantern thing was a simple mistake on my part. I have been confusing those two movies for ages and just knew I would screw them up here. It was a typo, no reason to get up in arms about it.

You hint at "real problems" in the post but offer very few, superficial examples. What are the "real problems" in this post that upset you? I would like to try and defend myself so you don't think I'm a complete racist/asshole.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I have some esplainin' to do as well.

I really do tend to get up in arms and shoot my mouth off when it comes to racial issues.

While your intention with your confession may have been to invite discussion, perhaps you could have, instead, elaborated as to why there is such a lack of representation of color on your list as a way of inviting some real discussion. I understand that this is a list that is comprised entirely of your opinion, however the fact that even you know that there is an issue with your list being made up of 90% white men makes me feel as though you can now just dismiss this problem due to a disclaimer tagged onto a post.

I do apologize for the tone of my first comment. I did misread your sentence about Rain/Jay Chou and I overreacted and for that I really am sorry.

What I think is the real problem here is that I feel as though men of color are being marginalized once again (and yes, I realize I am probably taking this wayyyyyy too seriously). It is hard enough for men of color to even get parts that will be seen by a North American audience, and so what happens is that we are just blasted with images of traditional ideals of beauty (scuplted bodies, perfect hair, and of course white skin). Why be part of that problem? I mean if you really did try to be as inclusive of all races as possible I don't understand how only one Asian man made it onto the list?

In your introductory post for 100 Hot Men and a Dame (a series which I am LOVING by the way) you asked what makes a man truly attractive? I'm sure that you are aware that there are many beautiful Asian men with personality, humor and whatever else you could be looking for, so my question to you is, how come there is only the one? It just seems like race and skin color are directly proportional to placement on your list. Although it may not be a fault of your own doing, you have to acknowledge that these prejudices are a serious problem within North American culture, and even within gay culture as well. I feel as though you can't have it both ways. I feel like it's cheating when you say that you are asking what it is that makes a man truly attractive and then make a list made of mostly white guys and write-off Asian men based on arbitrary physical qualities.

Also, I wanted to thank you for responding to my comment! I can't wait to read what you have to say, because honestly, I feel as though issues like these are not discussed enough, and I am curious to see where you stand on all of this.

Dame James said...

To start this project and get my actual list of 100 men, I brainstormed for days, writing down nearly 200 men I found attractive. Just to make sure I wasn't missing anyone, I asked people to list off hot athletes or hot black men. I put a ton of thought into this list, probably a lot more than any sane person should. But, in the end, I chose with my heart (and, let's face it, my groin). The fact that Tony Leung is the only Asian guy to make my list is not a slight in any way against Asian men; he just happens to be the only one I love enough to make this list.

My series/list is purely for entertainment, but I'm not naive. I realize all to well that it's a white person's world when it comes to beauty, not only in America but all over the world (light skin is usually more desirable in cultures where darker skin is prevalent). It's a bigger problem in America mainly because we're one of the big centers of culture for the entire world; if we promote someone as beautiful, the world at large agrees (maybe not entirely, but for the most part). We have such deep, unspoken beliefs about beauty, culture and celebrity in America that go back centuries. White, European features are beautiful, everything else is not. Exotic looks are great but make sure you have enough white in you so that you don't look "too" foreign. It's messy and contradictory and frankly appalling if you think about it. But it's so ingrained in our culture that it will take generations for it to truly change.

On one hand, I want to throw my arms in the air and say, "It's not my fault, it's the culture I was born into!" But, especially growing up in the age of the Internet, I am not completely blameless. I understand and respect that there are Asian men (and any other underrepresented races) with humor, personality, and any other non-shallow characteristics I considered important when making my list. The problem is, like I stated, I'm not as familiar with Asian cinema and culture as I am with their American and European equivalents. I only see a tiny, tiny portion of the films that come out of China/Japan/Hong Kong/Taiwan, etc. so my options are much more limited. I would love to be more acquainted with the hot and desirable men of these countries but I only have so much time/energy to devote to it.

I don't want to be part of the problem. I sincerely wish black and Hispanic men could get non drug addicts or gang bangers roles. I wish legendary Asian actors could get roles in films where they aren't a villain or an expert in martial arts. This is the reason Tony Leung, despite speaking perfect English, has never gone to Hollywood. It's a sad, sad situation that I truly wish would change. And if I was doing a definitive, generic, all-time list of hot men (which I said in my intro I wasn't doing), then I would include more Asian men. I understand your frustration and welcome the debate, but please don't look too much into my silly list of hot men.

And I appreciate that you wrote back in such a thoughtful way instead of merely attacking me. I felt caught off-guard after your first comment but now I (gratefully) understand that you're coming from a place of intellect and not attacking for the sake of attacking.

Anonymous said...

Well thank you for such a thoughtful reply.

Once again, I do understand that a list like this is entertainment and sexy sexy gratuitousness but I feel as though there are certain responsibilities you have as a writer to your audience. The fact that we are even having this discussion (which is totally awesome and illuminating!) just goes to show what kind of hurdles we still face overcoming prejudice, even hidden ones.

I find a lot of people hide behind the excuse that it is not their fault, and that they are just a product of their environment and culture, but I think that it's a flimsy excuse. Like you said, we are living in the information age where we are so globally connected to one another so to say that your standard of beauty is a by-product of the culture you are living in is just an easy way out in my opinion.

If you are sincere about not wanting to be part of the problem, then I encourage you to explore more cinema of the world. While I understand that it might be a difficult and time-consuming endeavor, the rewards of doing so are worth it.

Expanding your breadth of knowledge and challenging your own standards of beauty are the only way for any real change to even begin to happen.