The Meaning of Chow (It's In His Mouth)
Ultimately, it comes down to his mouth.
Chow Yun-Fat is the coolest movie actor in the world today,
and the only way I can explain this is to talk about his
mouth. He does cool things with his mouth. Smoking cigarettes
is no longer an emblem of cool in the USA, but Chow does
wonders with cigarette smoke in Prison On Fire. Director
Ringo Lam understands this; like most of the great Hong Kong
directors, he loves using slow motion and freeze frames to
pinpoint important moments in his movies, and he saves a few
of the most elegant slow-motion sequences for Chow blowing
smoke and looking cool.
In John Woo's over-the-top classic, Hard Boiled (the rough
literal translation of the Chinese title is Spicy-Handed Gun
God), Chow plays with a toothpick. There are few movie
moments more violently cool than the shot of Chow, a gun in
each hand, sliding down a stair banister blasting a dozen bad
guys while letting his toothpick hang just so from the side
of his mouth.
In God of Gamblers, Chow plays a gambler who
gets a bump on his head that turns him into some
quasi-autistic prodigy, like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Chow
retains his intuitive skill at playing cards, but now he must
be pacified by constant pieces of chocolate that he scarfs
greedily, goofy smile on his face. Blowing smoke, dangling
his toothpick, eating chocolate, or just smiling ...
ultimately, when trying to explain why Chow Yun-Fat is cool,
it comes down to his mouth.
Everything I have said so far describes a subjective reaction
to watching Chow Yun-Fat on the screen. Fill in the name of
your favorite actor or actress, change the specific
references, and this could be your...