Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-Fat have led parallel lives. Born in Hong Kong in the mid-1950s, both men established themselves as stars of Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s. In 1995, Chan crossed-over to American cinema with Rumble in the Bronx. Three years later, Chow followed suit with The Replacement Killers. The analogy isn't perfect: While Chow built a reputation as a fine dramatic actor, Chan has largely stuck to his martial-arts infused comedic roots.
Most recently, the pro-democracy protests engulfing Hong Kong have presented a stark contrast between the two native stars. In an interview with the Apple Daily earlier this month, Chow Yun Fat expressed his support for the protesters.
"I’ve met the residents, the students—they are very brave and it’s touching to see that they’re fighting for what they want. The students are reasonable."
The remark is right in character for the famously down-to-earth actor, who earlier this year pledged to donate his fortune to charity. But that won't lessen the financial consequences of upsetting China, which for Hong Kong entertainers can be substantial. The singer Denise Ho, for instance, gets about 80 percent of her income from performances on the mainland. But since expressing support for the Hong Kong protests, a mainland fashion brand canceled a gig without explanation and she hasn't been back for a performance.