The article is about the Chinese martial arts actor, Gordon Liu Chia Hui. Although already famous for his many Chinese martial arts films, those of us in the west may know him best from the Kill Bill movies, where he played the Monk Bai Mei.
Gordon Liu Chia HuiGood Monk, Bad Monk
by Dr. Craig Reid
Gordon Liu Chia Hui (Cantonese Lau Kar Fai) is one of the coolest kung fu stars you will ever meet.
Though perhaps the most recognized and popular Shaolin-righteous-monk character from the Old School Shaw Brothers kung-fu films, he doesn't promote himself as such, or flaunt himself in "look at me" fashion design, or try to be the next "Hong Kong star" vying for Hollywood's attention. Instead, he's an unassuming man, simple in nature, sincere in spirit and open in heart.
I met up with Liu in the lobby of the Le Meridian Hotel in Beverly Hills, just a few hours after he had finished a few day's stint, dubbing his Monk Bai Mei character from KILL BILL: VOLUME 2. If you've seen his films, his eyes are intense, his body taut, his posture proud, because he's the hero that will save China (or at least part of it). But in real life, he's dressed in dark blue and gray, sporting a gray woolen hat shaped like his bald head, and he has a gentle smile and soft eyes - clearly a man at peace.
We drive to Monterey Park to meet up with a family member and partake in an afternoon of yum cha (dim sum). I politely mention that I'm not into chicken feet and pig ears. Moments later we're surrounded by every waitress and bus boy at the restaurant. None ask for autographs, but just stare and smile, not in awe, but with familiarity. I ask if he's uncomfortable and would he like to go somewhere else. Liu happily smiles, shakes his head, then laughingly orders chicken feet.
Liu doesn't come across eager to please - or full of himself - like so many other Hong Kong imports.
And why? Because he's not opera, he's not flash, he's a real kung-fu man top to bottom, in mind, body and spirit. His life and background as a martial artist is not about entertainment or sport; it's a way of life, the way real martial artists should be: spirited calm, enlightened with humbleness...a dying art.
"I find it sad that most people and kids in Hong Kong nowadays are not interested in practicing martial arts like we used to," Liu laments. "And it's also one of the reasons why the Hong Kong film industry is dying, because nobody wishes to put themselves through the rigorous training like we used to do.