Making films is a passion fuelled by images. It is about creating a team, a family. Each film has its own family. Hong Kong has been generous. It hasn’t tied me down to a single genre of films. I have been able to make drama, comedies, action, and horror. And with each film I learn a new process.
I like to introduce an audience to a world they are not familiar with, or present a familiar world in a new light. What I look for is a moment in a scene, how to draw the audience in.
I have been fortunate to film in many countries, the U.S., Canada, France, South Africa, Romania, Poland, the Far East. What works in one culture does not necessarily translate to another. Silent movies are the best way to close the cultural gap. They communicate solely through images. It is a universal language. One day I will make a silent movie.
Leong Po-chih was born in Northhampton, England in 1939. He grew up in England and studied philosophy at Exeter University and film at the London Film School. Upon graduation, he joined the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) as an editing trainee and worked on a number of television programs, including Panorama. In 1967, he relocated to Hong Kong and became a producer/director for newly-established Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), which also gave him a chance to mentor aspiring directors. Two years later, he and cinematographer Tony Hope left TVB and founded Adpower, a television commercials company.
His feature film career began in 1976 when he co-directed Jumping Ash with the film’s star Josephine Siao. Hailed as a pioneering work of the Hong Kong New Wave, Jumping Ash was also one of the highest grossing local films of the 1970s. Leong’s directorial career continued with various genre features such as the English language movie, Foxbat (1977), Itchy Fingers (1979) and He Lives by Night (1982). He shot the 1984 police comedy Banana Cop in London’s Chinatown, which inspired his own English remake, titled Ping Pong (1986), for Film 4 in the UK.
Also released in 1984 was one of his many career highlights, Hong Kong 1941. Set in the period before and after the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, the wartime drama won Best Cinematography at the 1985 Hong Kong Film Awards while being nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress. The film was also a career breakthrough for then-rising star Chow Yun-fat, who was named Best Actor at Taipei’s Golden Horse Film Festival and Asian Pacific Film Festival.
Inspired by history once again in 1991, Leong directed the Hong Kong-produced English feature, Shanghai 1920 — a biopic of Du Yuesheng (played by John Lone), the infamous triad boss. His third English feature, The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998), won the Silver Prize at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film and the Special Jury Prize at the Gérardmer Film Festival, among other awards.
Beginning in 1995, Leong co-directed with his daughter, Leong Sze-wing, Riding the Tiger (1997). Three years in the making, the work is an eight-part documentary series for UK’s Channel 4, chronicling the transfer of Hong Kong sovereignty to China.
Leong then directed eight films for American network television. Recently, he made Baby Blues (2013) for Raymond Wong Pakming’s Pegasus Motion Pictures Distribution and is Executive Producer on his son James Leong’s debut feature Camera. He is working on his next projects, including Bounty Hunter (2014).
|Year||Chinese name||English name||Directors|
||The Wisdom of Crocodiles|
||Keep on Dancing||KAM Kwok Leung|
||Carry on Dancing||KAM Kwok Leung|
||Hong Kong 1941|
||He Lives by Night|
||No Big Deal|