Fri, May 03, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Movie fans' favorite father figure dies

A GREAT LOSS Asia lost one of its most renowned actors when Lung Sihung, who had acted in over 100 Chinese-language films, succumbed to liver cirrhosis

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lung Sihung performs in Pushing Hands.

PHOTO: CMPC

Asia's silver screen lost a favorite actor yesterday, when Lung Sihung (郎雄), who acted in nearly 100 Chinese-language films, died of liver cirrhosis at the age of 72 at Taipei's Cheng Hsin Rehabilitation Medical Center (振興醫院).

Lung gained worldwide renown for his father-figure roles in both Taiwanese and Japanese films, especially Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's (李安) "father knows best" trilogy: Pushing Hands, The Wedding Banquet and Eat, Drink, Man, Woman.

Lung won Best Actor at the Golden Horse Awards for Pushing Hands and Best Supporting Actor for The Wedding Banquet. He also acted in Lee's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

News of Lung's death shocked and saddened many in Taiwan's film circles, including Lee.

"Ang Lee was tremendously sad. He was crying over the phone while talking to Lung's wife, Pao Chia (包珈)," said film producer Hsu Li-kong (徐立功), a long-time movie-making partner of Lee's.

Busy shooting his new film, The Incredible Hulk, in the US, Lee was unable to return to Taiwan to see his favorite actor after Lung became seriously ill. But he called Pao as soon as he learned from the Internet of the actor' death, Hsu said.

"Before he [Lung] died, he asked me to tell Ang Lee please don't be so sad and distracted by his illness. He said Lee should concentrate on making more and more good films," Hsu quoted Pao as telling the director.

Hsu said Lung was an excellent actor and called him a "rare find in the history of Chinese filmmaking."

Hsu first worked with Lung on Pushing Hands in 1992.

"He had a face that both the Asian and Western worlds could easily identify with, Hsu said.

Hsu praised Lung's dedication in preparing for his film roles.

"I remember he went to tai chi [太極] class everyday from 5am in order to interpret the father with tai chi kung fu in the film," he said, recalling Lung in Pushing Hands.

In order to work on what became his final movie -- Michelle Yeoh's (楊紫瓊) martial arts adventure film The Touch -- Lung, who doesn't speak English, had to memorize the lines phonetically word by word, said Pao.

Filming on The Touch finished at the end of last year and Lung fell ill shortly afterwards.

In Japan, Lung was labeled the best on-screen father figure since film master Yasujiro Ozu's films. One of his more famous roles was in the 1988 Japanese film Sleepless Town.

He had also been asked to act in some French films but those plans fell through because of his deteriorating health.

Lung was also remembered for being a devout Catholic.

According to Hsu, when filming overseas, Lung's first priority was to find a Catholic church to attend.

"One of his great regrets as an actor was not having a chance to play Father Vincent Lebbe, who was a Belgian missionary to China in the 19th century," Hsu said.

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