Take a guess how many films Hong Kong actor Louis Koo is starring in this year.
Two? Well, he has a romantic comedy, Paris Holiday, opening here tomorrow and a crime thriller, Wild City, slated for next week. That is two in two weeks.
That could be chalked up to a scheduling coincidence since it would be impossible for even the prolific actor to maintain a one- movie-every-week schedule.
How about four? Five?
Actually, even Koo, 44, does not seem to be sure. He tells Life in an e-mail interview: "I have finished shooting another four films, but do not know the release schedule."
You could say his motto is shoot first, ask questions later.
Thus far this year, he has appeared in a same-name adaptation of the British play, An Inspector Calls, as Inspector Karl; played Hong Kong actress Miriam Yeung's husband in the education drama Little Big Master; and was a pilot in Triumph In The Skies.
There have been smaller roles as well, including as a fitness trainer in the gigolo comedy 12 Golden Ducks and as a crime syndicate boss in SPL II: A Time For Consequences.
As for completed projects awaiting release, Chinese Wikipedia lists four works: Johnnie To's action thriller Three On The Road, period action flick The Deadly Reclaim, sci-fi title Virtus and fantasy blockbuster Legend Of The Gods.
Perhaps to preserve an air of mystery so that he can continue to be accepted by audiences in a wide variety of roles, he tends to be laconic in answering questions.
Asked why he works so hard and the pithy reply is: "I like working, it gives me satisfaction."
Or maybe it is for the money. He has been named as the top-earning actor in Hong Kong with HK$300 million (S$54 million) last year and HK$236 million in 2013.
In the past few years, he has also reportedly bought shares in a production studio, Fat Face Production; set up post-production outfit One Cool Film Production; and invested in films such as 12 Golden Ducks, Wild City and Virtus.
He hints as much when he says: "Apart from money, job satisfaction and achievements also mean a lot to me."
For all the nominations he has received, he has yet to land a major acting accolade. He has been nominated for Golden Horse and Hong Kong Film awards for well-regarded turns in films such as crime drama The White Storm (2013), drama Run Papa Run (2008) and crime thriller Protege (2007).
He gives no indication whether this is a sore point, but merely adds: "It's more important for me to know the audiences like the movie."
Audiences have liked the actor since his television days with works such as wuxia fantasy The Condor Heroes 95 (1995) and crime drama Detective Investigation Files IV (1999). It was after he started sporting a perma-tan from 1997, though, that his career really took off.
After 2001, he turned his attention to the big screen and has been churning out films at a rate that makes it seem as though the 1980s boom in Hong Kong's film industry never went away.
But has quantity come at a cost to quality? Koo deflects Life's question about appearing in stinkers by saying, without elaborating: "Actually, it's not easy to define what a 'bad movie' is, there's no definite standard answer."
How he picks his projects is simple: "Good script and good director."
In the case of Paris Holiday, he worked with writer-director James Yuen, whose writing credits include period drama The Warlords (2007) and classic comedy He's A Woman, She's A Man (1994).
He pretends to be gay to stay with a young woman, played by Taiwanese singer-actress Amber Kuo, who has been recently dumped.
"Then we two experience sorrow and bliss in Paris together, it's a meaningful yet funny story," he notes.
He is no stranger to the French capital, having been there for work and vacation "many times".
But he did discover something new during the shoot: "I found there're many more good restaurants in Paris."
Apart from work, family is also important to the bachelor. He says: "I try to take a break every year and go for a trip abroad with my family."
Where does that leave romance? In the movie, his character's first girlfriend puts her career ahead of love. Is that something he would do? "I can't tell as I believe it's all driven by fate."
At this point, what fate seems to have in store is more Louis Koo movies.
Paris Holiday opens tomorrow and Wild City opens on Thursday next week.
This article was first published on August 12, 2015.
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