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[Others] Point of No Return

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发表于 2012-10-14 03:14:33 |显示全部楼层

The following is written to celebrate Mr. Damian Lau Chung Yan's birthday. Happy birthday Chunggor!


            Point of No Return, the title of the 2003 drama series from TVB, well summarizes the fates of many characters that Damian Lau has created throughout his remarkable acting career. It also echoes Lau’s comment on his career in an interview: “To be in the acting business is the biggest tragedy in my life.”   As one of the most versatile TV actors of his generation, Damian Lau is well known by the Chinese speaking populations for his brilliant portrayals of countless classical characters in both drama and comedy for the last four decades. He belongs to the classical generation or the Gold Age of Hong Kong entertainment industry and has never ceased fascinating the audience with his outstanding performances. Now it is the time of his birthday, let me reexamine some of Lau’s characters that illustrate the theme of point-of-no-return.


          Chow Ming Hin (Zhou Mingxuan), the central character of the first half of Point of No Return, is a successful and charismatic entrepreneur of a family shipping business in the 1920s Guangzhou, China. His struggle in the commercial battle and family crisis deteriorates his health and finally causes his untimely death. In great pain and suffering, he never gives up his hope for the family and his love for his soon-to-be wife, the former housemaid Ng Yuk Hing (Wu Yuqing). The struggle of Chow seems helpless and desperate to the audience, but he remains optimistic and enthusiastic even as he lays dying. The last several scenes of Chow Ming Hin are the tearjerkers for many audiences and Ming Hin remains to be the favorite character for a lot of his fans. What Chow has suffered in the drama is definitely a point-of-no-return experience. Damian Lau gives a perfect portrayal of the charming and sometime stubborn character. Sometimes he speaks the character’s mind so well that one might think he is the character and forget that he is playing the role.


         Jing Ke (King Or) from The Rise of the Great Wall (1986), a character that is drastically different from Ming Hin, also embarks on a point-of-no-return journey. Jing Ke is one of Damian Lau’s most well-known characters in his early works. His portrayal of the assassin of the Warring States is still considered to be the most convincing representation of the historical figure. Lau instills into the character the spirit of ancient knight errant that has become rarer in modern Chinese culture. Furthermore, Lau makes the audience identity with the subtle sentiments hidden in Jing Ke by showing the humane aspect of the swordsman. The famous scene where Jing Ke says farewells to the Yan nobles at the riverbank is probably one of the most epic scenes in the history of Hong Kong TV drama industry. In this scene, Lau successfully delivers the nobility and resolution of the doomed assassin as he starts his journey to death. Law has a distinctly artistic temperament that helps him deliver the tragic character with more depth. In his other works like The Swordsman and King of Gamblers, Lau also shows his superior ability to play tragic characters with subtly and nobility, which constitutes his enduring charm over the last forty years.


         Another character that reflects the theme of point of no return is Mei Ruao, the Chinese judge in Tokyo Trial (2006). Damian Lau once told an interviewer that he decided to play the role because the script awoke a patriotic feeling in him. He also admitted that he found it very difficult at first to play the judge fighting for the right of China in the court of International Military Tribunal for the Fast East. Yet Lau once again shows his versatility in portraying different characters. By focusing on the judge’s insistence of justice and pursuit of righteousness, Lau successfully captures the essence of the character. His outstanding performance won him the nominations for Best Actor of both the Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Award, the two most prestigious film awards in China. Like Lau’s other characters, Mei Ruao expects the Tokyo Trial to be his journey with no point to return. The judge is determined to commit suicide if the justice cannot be achieved in the court. Lau not only portrays the character as a judge but also as a fighter with a strong sense of faith and responsibility. Although the movie may not be the best representation of the Tokyo trial, Damian Lau presents to the audience a brilliant interpretation of the judge Mei Ruao.


         Let’s list the different characters Damian Lau has played: lawyers, teachers, students, the royals, the nobles, knight errands, swordsman, constables, undercover cops, stock agents, entrepreneurs, womanizers, gabblers, gangsters, firefighters……. It seems that he never ceases surprising the audience with the wide range of his performances and his profound understanding of characters. Most of his characters are put in a situation of desperation in which he inevitably chooses the hardest path, the path with no point to return. It seems that the point-of-no-return theme permeates Damian Lau’s characters as well as his career. Although Lau said that he does not have any desire to perform, his talent as an actor makes him one of the best performers from Hong Kong in the last four decades. The irony between his introvert personality and his true gift of acting may be the reason why Damian Lau describes his successful career as a tragic one, while the audience and fans praise his years of acting as a brilliant triumph.

[ Last edited by 小猴 at 2012-10-14 03:24 ]
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发表于 2012-10-14 11:08:16 |显示全部楼层
:<5> Although it is difficult to read ,but ialso to say happy birthday to Damian :<36> :<36>
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发表于 2012-10-15 12:43:42 |显示全部楼层
Very interesting interpretation of what Damian meant when he said "To be in the acting business is the biggest tragedy in my life."   

I haven't seen The Rise of the Great Wall so I am not as familiar with the character.  Additionally, the US don't teach Chinese history as a part of their general curriculum so I am not familiar with the historical figure.   However, I did see the scene you described on this forum (thank you forum!) and I think you did a great job expressing the mood of the scene.  I did see the other 2 film/series that you mention and I have to say that Ming Hin is one of my favorite characters as well.   

Thank you for sharing this essay!  
Happy Birthday to Damian!
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发表于 2012-10-15 14:07:00 |显示全部楼层
point of no return aslo one of the drama i like . :[e045]: :[e045]: :[e045]: :[e045]:
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