He's been called everything from "The King of Category III" (Category III is the Hong Kong film rating equivalent to America's dreaded NC-17) to one of the most versatile actors of his generation, but however you refer to Hong Kong mainstay Anthony Wong, only one thing is certain -- the man is absolutely fearless. Accepting roles that would make Dennis Hopper run for cover and Udo Kier cower in fear, Wong has a willingness to completely lose himself in the most vile of screen characters, earning him near legendary status among Hong Kong film fanatics. Few actors could take the role of a cannibalistic serial killer and turn out an award-winning performance, but with his role as the murderous madman of the brutal true-crime horror film The Untold Story (1992), Wong did just that, earning a Best Actor Hong Kong Film Award for his shocking performance.
Wong, who is the son of a British sailor and a Chinese mother, had a distaste for school that was no doubt fueled by the cruelty of his classmates, who frequently teased the mixed-race youngster. In the years following Wong's high-school graduation, his interest in acting was peaked, and at the age of 21, the aspiring actor was persuaded by his best friend to enroll in an ATV television course. As a result of his strong abilities, Wong was signed to a two-year contract with ATV, during which time he made 25 appearances for the popular network. Subsequently enrolling in The Academy of Performing Arts, Wong continued his education while honing his skills in such plays as Oedipus Rex and Cyrano de Bergerac. Increasingly active onscreen from the early '90s, Wong made a lasting impression on audiences with a pair of roles opposite Hong Kong megastar Chow Yun-Fat in Hard-Boiled and Full Contact (both 1992). With a role as Yun-Fat's maniacal nemesis in the former, and his weak-willed friend in the latter, Wong showed a remarkable ability to play both ends of the spectrum early on in his career.
If his parts in Hard-Boiled and Full Contact served to introduce Wong to the masses, his role in The Untold Story later that same year ensured that they wouldn't soon forget him. Perhaps one of the most unforgettable and sadistic villains in screen history, Wong's performance as a man who slaughters an entire family of restaurateurs (including the young children) and serves them to unsuspecting diners as tasty pork rolls earned him top honors at that year's Hong Kong Film Awards. The fact that Wong was able to craft a despicable character who actually elicits the sympathy of the audience after performing some of the most atrocious acts ever to reach the silver screen was almost as disturbing as the film itself, and was an unquestionable testament to his remarkable acting abilities. Roles in The Heroic Trio, Taxi Hunter, and Rock 'n' Roll Cop found Wong's seemingly unstoppable ascent to stardom continuing unchallenged, and in 1995, he stepped behind the camera to make his directorial debut with the bizarre horror film New Tenant. In 1996, international audiences who may not have been savvy to Hong Kong cinema got a tantalizing taste of Wong in the widely released action film Black Mask.
Though one certainly couldn't tell by looking at Wong's extensive filmography, a thyroid disorder threatened to cut his prolific career short in the mid-'90s. Thankfully for film lovers, he was able to make a full recovery, coming back as strong as ever with memorable roles in Armageddon and Beast Cops -- the latter of which found him the recipient of his second Best Actor award at the 1999 Hong Kong Film Awards. To say that Wong's career choices are eclectic may be one of the greatest understatements one could make; he frequently alternates between such high-profile mainstream fare as A Man Called Hero and Time and Tide and such lurid, cinematic sleaze as Raped by an Angel 4 and Erotic Nightmare. No matter how small his part in a film, Wong consistently stands out, leaving a lasting impression on viewers. In the new millennium, Wong took on prominent roles in the acclaimed Infernal Affairs crime drama trilogy and the bubblegum vampire flick The Twins Effect. The fact that international stardom continued to elude him was nearly as shocking as some of his outlandish characters. Outside of his film career, Wong has released a pair of controversial punk rock albums and remains steadfastly elusive regarding his private life -- rarely discussing either his marriage or his son, who was born in 1996. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi