Monday, May 2, 2011

April Flavour of the Month: Law Lok-lam

Law Lok-lam feels a death scene coming on
Prolific Hong Kong television actor Law Lok-lam (罗乐林, pinyin: Luó Lèlín) caused great alarm amongst those of a superstitious nature earlier this month. In the space of just 24 hours, five different characters he was portraying in various TV series all died. It's unusual enough for an actor to have five different series running concurrently, but to die in all of them, more or less at the same time, is almost spooky. If Oscar Wilde thought one death a misfortune, and two carelessness, what would he have made of Law's situation?

Law's first death, as the founder of the Ming Dynasty, the Hongwu Emperor, was a peaceful one at least - shuffling off this mortal coil via old age in the TVB series Relic of an Emissary. An hour later, he was dead again, this time violently beaten to death in the martial arts series Grace Under Fire. An off-screen death followed a few hours later, in the repeat series Police Station No.7. That evening, in another repeated series, Face to Fate, he kicked the bucket for the fourth time, vomiting blood in the process. Virtues of Harmony 2 is a TVB 2002 sitcom getting a repeat airing, but it was no laughing matter for Law when again the character he was playing passed away - demise number five.

The run of bad luck experienced by Law's characters made international news, and some wits on the net quickly composed a song about him: 同是天涯罗乐林. (The title is basically a play on words of a famous Chinese proverb). There was also criticism from viewers directed at the television station, TVB, or at least their programming department. Wasn't it a bit tasteless to have an actor repeatedly dying, not to mention tempting fate? Law himself, a modest retiring sort who normally shuns the glare of publicity, was non-plussed by the whole thing. "Why would dying in a drama matter? It's not for real" he was quoted as saying in reaction to the sudden media attention.

Law Lok-lam has been acting since 1971, first as an extra before graduating to supporting roles. The high school drop-out has appeared in countless TV series in his forty year career, many of them as villains. Since 1990 he has been acting exclusively in TVB series, and in that 21 year period he would have been in close to a hundred shows. Before that he was with the other major Hong Kong network, ATV, from 1989 to 1999, appearing in almost fifty series.

For a great overview of the actor and his career, the entertainment magazine Mingpao has an excellent in-depth article (BTW brilliantly translated by llwy12, one of the hardworking folk at the AsianFanatics Forum).

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