Almost two decades on, the cast of Young And Dangerous (1996) still look back on their now iconic roles from that classic film with fondness.
At that time, however, the Hong Kong movie about a group of young gangsters cost the actors several work and commercial endorsement opportunities.
Speaking to Life! recently, the star of the movie, Ekin Cheng, 47, says in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin: "People had this image of us as bad guys so they weren't comfortable hiring us as spokesmen or for other types of movie roles. Teachers wrote letters to us asking us to stop making these movies because they set bad examples for kids.
"Fortunately, that perception changed over the years as people started to separate us as actors from our roles. Also, when we all began tying the knot one by one, with some starting families, that helped."
Sitting beside him is his former co-star, Jerry Lamb, 44, who pipes up with a grin: "Actually, the secret is we all got married just so we could be seen as good guys."
The duo, who asked to be interviewed together, laugh heartily at the joke and demonstrate in their subsequent banter that their friendship is still going strong.
They were flown in to celebrate the first anniversary of television channel cHK, which features Hong Kong entertainment programmes. A slate of movies starring Cheng, including Young And Dangerous 3, will be aired on the channel every Saturday this month.
It was not just the two of them who fostered a strong bond while shooting the movies.
On the chemistry between the famous Young And Dangerous "band of brothers" - who also include Michael Tse, 47, Chin Kar Lok, 49, and Jordan Chan, 47 - Cheng tells Life! with a bemused expression: "You know, we have to thank the audience for pointing out to us that we all share such good chemistry on- and off-screen.
"I know we get along well, but I never thought much about it. It's only when other people told us that whenever they see us all together, they feel uncomfortable about butting into our conversations because we are so tight-knit, that I realised there is something really special here."
Young And Dangerous was a massive hit and propelled the cast to instant fame. The film spawned five sequels and several spin-offs, including Portland Street Blues (1998), which focused on a female character from the series. Last year, the film was remade as Young And Dangerous: Reloaded, with young hunk Him Law, 30, as the lead.
These days, it has become something of a nostalgia trip seeing the original film gang appear together. Last year, the five cast members held a reunion concert at the Hong Kong Coliseum, selling out four consecutive shows.
Now, Cheng and Chan are on China TV as team mates on The Amazing Race (China), the Chinese version of the popular American game show which takes participants through various challenges around the world.
So far, the show has seen the duo go through hilarious exercises such as singing, dancing and reciting lines in Hindi in New Delhi as well as getting flung off mechanical bulls in Texas.
Was there concern that joining the show would potentially sour their friendship?
Cheng says with confidence: "No, we know each other so well, I think we'll be fine. What's important is that we won't lose ourselves trying to win. We're in it for fun."
Out of the five actors, Cheng, who is married to actress Yoyo Mung, is the only one who has yet to have children.
Lamb says with a chuckle that Cheng does not need any because he has always been even- tempered. He explains: "The rest of us can be quite short-tempered, but we cooled down a lot after becoming fathers.
"Ekin has always been such an easygoing person so he doesn't need to have kids to control his temperament."
But are there any plans to have children in the near future?
Speaking in his typical laidback fashion, Cheng says with a shrug: "We'll just leave things to fate. I'm happy with the way my life is going right now."
This article was first published on November 20, 2014.
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