A rare case of an actress who is confident enough in her skills to sacrifice beauty for laughs, talented Hong Kong screen beauty Karen Mok has charmed audiences with off-kilter roles in such features as Wong Kar-Wai's arty crime drama Fallen Angels and Stephen Chow's deliciously bizarre comedy God of Cookery. Born Karen Morris in Hong Kong, Mok is multilingual, speaking fluent English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Italian, and French. Her initial bid for stardom revolved not around her acting talent -- but her vocal skills. Following studies at Italy's United World College, the aspiring vocalist recorded numerous demo tapes, eventually landing a coveted role in the London stage production of Miss Saigon. Though the prospect of a Hong Kong recording contract may have momentarily lured Mok away from the stage, a lukewarm reception and middling sales soon prompted the aspiring singer to return to England to complete her education at the University of London. In the years that followed, Mok opted to pursue a career in film, and an early role opposite Chow in A Chinese Odyssey almost instantaneously cemented her reputation as a talent to watch for. Her performance as a shrieking, fright-wig-wearing punker in the following year's Fallen Angels earned Mok a Hong Kong Film Award for Best Supporting Actress. With her role as Stephen Chow's unsightly muse in God of Cookery, Mok was equally effective and unrecognizable -- her seemingly hypnotic lazy eye compelling audiences into involuntary fits of laughter. A hilarious performance in Viva Erotica was quick to follow, with subsequent work in the action film Black Mask offering international exposure.
By this point, Mok's professional relationship with actor/filmmaker Chow was only warming up, and subsequent roles in Lawyer Lawyer and The King of Comedy not only offered filmgoers abundant laughs -- but soon fueled rumors of romantic involvement between the two frequent collaborators. The pair was reluctant to comment on the state of their private lives, though, with any rumors of heated romance remaining unfounded. A quick cameo in Chow's comedy smash Shaolin Soccer got hearty laughs from those who caught her all-too-brief appearance, and a role as a beautiful cop with razor sharp instinct found the bullets flying fast in the sci-fi-flavored action thriller So Close. After facing off against some malevolent supernatural forces in Haunted Office, Mok took yet another hilarious turn onscreen with an extended cameo as a drunken bride (Jackie Chan's drunken bride no less) in the cotton-candy vampire flick The Twins Effect (released stateside as The Vampire Effect). Her status as a serious player in the Hong Kong film industry was later evidenced with a role in the all-star adventure comedy Around the World in 80 Days (2004). ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi