It's in his mouth, a study on Chow Yun-Fat

Essay by Milo RubinA-, January 1996

download word file, 8 pages 4.3 1 reviews

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...