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Director, Producer, Writer and Star Stephen Chow is Asia's number one comedy star and one of the region's most beloved entertainers. He has starred in more than 50 films, but it was the success of 2001's Shaolin Soccer that lifted him to a level of stardom occupied by only a handful of others in the region.
Like Kung Fu Hustle, Chow also wrote, directed and starred in Shaolin Soccer. Though a Hong Kong-produced film, Shaolin Soccer broke box office records across Asia, including non-Chinese speaking countries such as Japan and South Korea. A native of Hong Kong, Stephen Chow was one of three children in what he describes as a "very poor family."
He grew up as a Bruce Lee fan and a martial arts fanatic, but he remembers that as a child his own kung fu training had to stop after six weeks when his family could no longer afford lessons. Chow started his entertainment career as the host of a TV children's show, 430 Space Shuttle. He quickly made a name for himself with his witty style, but it was not until 1989 that he began acting in films.
In 1989, in the movie Final Justice, he played a supporting role, which won him the best supporting actor award at Taipei Golden Horse Awards and established him in the Hong Kong film world. But the key turning point in his career came only a year later, when he had his first starring role in the 1990 Chow Yun-Fat spoof All for the Winner. In this movie, Chow's unique and hilarious onscreen persona - playing his first in a series of lovable underdogs - made him an overnight sensation in Hong Kong and throughout Asia.
Asian film observers also say that in that film Chow gave birth to the "Mo Lei Tau" ("nonsense") comedy style, now considered a fully established genre of Hong Kong comedy. Since All for the Winner, Chow has gradually but firmly established himself as Hong Kong's comedy king, with no serious pretenders to the throne. Among his 50 some movies, Justice My Foot won him the best actor award in the 1992 Asian Pacific Film Awards, and A Chinese Odyssey won him the best actor award at the 1996 Hong Kong Critics Society Awards as well as at the Hong Kong Golden Bauhinia Film Awards.
With God of Cookery in 1996, his first directorial effort, which he also wrote and produced, in addition to starring, Chow entered a new era of his film career, in which his full talents as a filmmaker began to blossom. After the huge success of God of Cookery, he made King of Comedy in 1999, which he also wrote, starred in, and directed. With a charming story about a movie extra meeting the star of his dreams, King of Comedy earned Chow lavish praise from American writer-director-actor Quentin Tarantino, who describes Chow as the best actor in Hong Kong.
In 2001, Chow directed, wrote, produced, and starred in Shaolin Soccer, which brought him to yet another peak in his career. A story combining martial arts, Chow's lifelong passion, and soccer, one of the most popular sports in the world, Shaolin Soccer quickly became the third highest-grossing film of all time in Hong Kong. Shaolin Soccer won seven major awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Design and Best Visual Effects.