Search for the next Jackie Chan

Search for the next Jackie Chan
MediaAsia chairman Peter Lam sharing a lighter moment with actress Michelle Yeoh and filmmaker John Woo at the Venice Film Festival in 2010.

When the screenplay for a proposed film called Infernal Affairs landed on his desk over a decade ago, movie producer Peter Lam thought it was "a very good script".

But was it enough to woo movie goers - disappointed by the quality of Hong Kong films - back to the theatres?

Mr Lam was unsure.

"The Hong Kong film industry was really struggling," he says. "I already liked the script. But it needed something more."

That extra something was what he calls a "talking point". And he created one by casting two of Hong Kong's biggest names - Andy Lau and Tony Leung - who had never appeared together in the same movie before. "People were saying, no way, Andy and Tony, you can get both? How can you create such a big-budget movie at such a time? Can you make back the profits?"

Well - he did, he could, and it did.

"Andy and Tony" came on board, the budget was inflated to HK$50 million - 10 times the average movie budget then. The movie earned gold at both the box office and the awards, while Hollywood paid tribute with a remake.

Today, Mr Lam, 56, is one of the power players in Hong Kong's film industry.

In 1998, he founded the Media-Asia group. Alongside others such as Edko, Universe and Emperor Motion Pictures, which have become notable names, it succeeded the likes of Shaw and Golden Harvest, whose logos and distinctive fanfare lit up darkened cinemas across Asia for so many years.

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