This has been hard year for fans of Hong Kong cinema. The passing of the legendary screen villain/character actor Shek Kin and director Ho Meng-Hua earlier this year was unfortunate enough, made less bitter by the knowledge that each lived long, presumably fulfilled lives. Their deaths were overshadowed by that of David Carradine, who died in the same week. As much as Carradine evoked mixed feelings from fans of Bruce Lee and kung fu movies, his death was another loss for fans of b-movies and cult cinema.
Now another actor's passing has been announced. Shing Fui-on, posessor of one of the most unique faces in Hong Kong cinema, died on August 27th at the age of 54. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004, but still made appearances in Oxide Pang's The Detective and Cheung Chee-keong's Bodyguard: A New Beginning. Shing appeared in well over a hundred films and probably countless television series. My first memory of recognizing him was in God of Gamblers, where he has a great comedic scene in whih he loses to Chow Yun-Fat. Indeed, I'd seen him in various films, from bit parts in Wong Jing crap like Legend of the Liquid Sword, Cat III sleaze like the silly Erotic Ghost Story III and the disgustingly exploitative Human Pork Chop, and as gangsters and criminals in various films throughout the eighties and nineties. Hong Kong audiences nick-named him "big silly head," which probably sounds less mean in Cantonese.
Shing was a real professional, clearly giving his best even in small parts or in large parts in small movies. Hong Kong cinema still has its stars, but it's difficult to point to anybody who could replace the unique screen presence of yet another artist who left us too soon. Rest in peace.