Leslie Cheung

“I am who I am, a different color sparkler. I love myself, just like the bloomy rose waiting to flourish even in the desert,” Leslie Cheung sang in one of his musical masterpieces I.

Starting his career as a singer in 1977, Cheung rose to fame thanks to the song The Wind Blows On six years later. Cheung has released many popular albums and is considered one of the founding fathers of Canto pop music.

However, there’s much more to his superior accomplishments. In the late 1980s, he shifted his career focus to the movie industry and shaped many classic roles that no one can rival even to this day.

Some people said: “You may not really know about Leslie Cheung’s music, but you must have seen one or two of his sentimental movies.”

Leslie Cheung

“He is a top Asian giant, has exciting stage performance, astonishing beauty and excellent acting skills,” CNN once said about him.

April 1, 2017 marks the 14th anniversary of this great artist’s death due to depression.

Since his passing, his admirers call him “the elder brother” and have memorialized him in a variety of ways including art exhibitions, movie re-shoots, imitation musical concerts and documentaries.

Let’s take a closer look at Leslie Cheung’s classic film roles as a way to commemorate our beloved “elder brother”.

Cheng Dieyi from Farewell My Concubine

1. Cheng Dieyi

Movie Name: Farewell My Concubine

Released Date: January 1, 1993

Movie Review: A fine movie, a true epic. As the only Chinese film awarded the highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d’Or, Farewell My Concubine marks a milestone in the history of Chinese movies, gaining world acclaim for the first time.

Role Review: Cheng Dieyi is a pathetic man in the troubled times as he loves a guy who cannot be loved during that time period. He chooses to die rather than accept the truth. Cheng Dieyi’s life ends happily as he died in the arms of the guy he loves, just like the role he has played for thousands of times.

Cheng Dieyi from Farewell My Concubine

Classic Movie Lines: “I’m talking about a lifetime. One year, one month, one day even one second less, all makes it less than a lifetime.”

“A smile ushers in the spring, a tear darkens the entire world, and only you are possessed of such charm.”

“No matter how resourceful you are, you can’t fight fate. The king had once been all-powerful, but in the end all he had left was one women and one horse.”

Cheng Dieyi from Farewell My Concubine

Ning Choi-san from A Chinese Ghost Story

2.Ning Choi-san

Movie Name: A Chinese Ghost Story

Released Date: July 18, 1987

Movie Review: The action is invigorating, and the love story is surprisingly touching, making this one of the most captivating and enjoyable fantasies in China.

Role Review: Starting as a cowardly scholar but turning into a brave man to fight with evils for his lover. Ning Choi-san defines the romance between the people and the ghost.

Ning Choi-san from A Chinese Ghost Story

Yuddy from Days of Being Wild

3. Yuddy

Movie Name: Days of Being Wild

Released Date: December 15, 1990

Movie Review: Days of Being Wild successfully portrays a small character by how he changes others or is changed by them. The movie ranked third on the “Top 100 Chinese Classic Movies ” list by the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2005.

Role Review: Yuddy is a playboy in Hong Kong and is well known for stealing girls’ hearts and then breaking them. He leads a fast and licentious life and is confused about the meaning of true love.

Yuddy from Days of Being Wild

Classic Movie Line: “I have heard someone say that there is a bird without feet in the world. Therefore, it has to fly and fly without rest. Once the bird decides to stop flying, then it decides to die.”

Ouyang Feng from Ashes of Time

4.Ouyang Feng

Movie Name: Ashes of Time

Released Date: September 17, 1994

Movie Review: “For those who seek metaphors, Ashes of Time presents the eye as well as the illusions of vision. For those who seek battle, Ashes of Time offers intermittent blurs of action, streaks of flying figures, flashing steel, and rare spatters and gouts of moist crimson, all washing across the screen like hurried brush paintings.” —— The New York Times

Role Review: He is brutal yet romantic. He is cold-blooded yet helpful. Leslie Cheung successfully transforms one of the most despised antagonists Ouyang Feng in modern writing into a protagonist filled with vivid character.

Ouyang Feng from Ashes of Time

Rick Pang from Double Tap

5.Rick Pang

Movie Name: Double Tap

Released Date: May 27, 2000

Movie Review: What does a gun do for a policeman? Kill people or save people? The film may give you something deeper to think about.

Role Review: Rick Pang, a shooting champion and gun expert who tinkers with his pistols to perfect his technique known as the ‘double tap’, which is the terminology for a shooter placing two shots in the same exact spot. However, he became mentally disturbed after a shooting accident and could not control his lust for murder. How can he solve this problem? By pointing a gun at himself or others?

Rick Pang from Double Tap

Sam Koo Ka-ming from He’s a Woman, She’s a Man

6. Sam Koo Ka-ming

Movie Name: He’s a Woman, She’s a Man

Released Date: July 23, 1994

Movie Review: This is a love story combined with humor and a comedy filled with romance.

Role Review: Sam Koo Ka-ming is a controversial character in the movie. He is trapped in a love triangle with two females. In the movie, Sam Koo Ka-ming interprets the relationship between love and gender.

Sam Koo Ka-ming from He’s a Woman, She’s a Man

Classic Movie Line: “No matter if you are male or female, I only know that I am in love with you.”

Chan Chen-Pang from Rouge

8.Chan Chen-Pang

Movie Name: Rouge

Released Date: January 7, 1988

Movie Review: The movie takes advantage of time and space parallels to represent a female ghost’s persistent love, a satire to attitudes on love and faith of many modern people, shocking viewers.

Role Review: Leslie Cheung vividly demonstrated a sentimental yet cowardly aristocrat man who fell in love with a female ghost. The emotions seen through his eyes represent a highlight of the film. They could be obsessed, admirable, furious, fearsome or regretful.

Chan Chen-Pang from Rouge

Sung Tse-Kit from A Better Tomorrow

8.Sung Tse-Kit

Movie Name: A Better Tomorrow

Released Date: August 2, 1986

Movie Review: Produced on a tight budget and relatively unknown until it went on screen due to virtually no advertising, it broke Hong Kong box office records and went on to become a blockbuster in Asian countries. It is highly regarded, ranking second on the list of “Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures”. After the film, teenage boys in Hong Kong wore long dusters to emulate the main actor Chow Yun Fat’s role in it even though the climate was sub-tropical.

Role Review: Sung Tse-Kit is a man of complicated sentiments. He enjoys a sense of justice in performing his duties at work and initially ignores human relationships. But after his brother and friends were killed in a fight, he realized the meaning of “brotherhood” and grew to be a true hero.

Sung Tse-Kit from A Better Tomorrow

Classic Movie Line: “If you’re a man of principle, you do not have to fear anything.”

Hui Man-keung from Shanghai Grand

9.Hui Man-keung

Movie Name: Shanghai Grand

Released Date: July 13, 1996

Movie Review: The movie is a loose adaptation of the 1980 television series The Bund. Set in 1920s China, it mainly retells the legendary story between two heroes Hui Man-keung and Ting Lik.

Role Review: Compared to the same role starring renowned actor Chow Yun-fat, Cheung’s version is more like a libertine with a free spirit. He sticks to his dream, sincere to his friends and loyal to his love.

Hui Man-keung from Shanghai Grand

James from Once a Thief


Movie Name: Once a Thief

Released Date: February 2, 1991

Movie Review: This story is about three orphans and their two father figures. They are taken in by a wealthy crime boss, which leads to their friendship, and then a kind police officer. Nevertheless, the trio grows up learning high-tech theft methods and specializes in stealing treasured paintings. During their lives as thieves, quite a few interesting and dangerous things happen.

Role Review: This movie offers Leslie Cheung a humongous character to play. Although James leads a fast life, he is loyal to his friends and maintains his innocence and purity deep in his heart.

James from Once a Thief

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