Hong Kong screen legend Tony Leung Chiu-wai won best actor for his role in crime thriller Where the Wind Blows and took home a special contribution prize at a star-studded Asian Film Awards held in Hong Kong on Sunday night.
Drive My Car from Japan’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi, a heavy favourite going into the ceremony, won best film, best editing and best original music.
In accepting the prize for best actor, Leung said: “I never thought it would be me. I did not prepare any speech. So, I would just like to say thank you.”
He was also presented with the special Asian film contribution award and conveyed his gratitude to everyone in the industry who had worked with him over his 40-year acting career.
The awards returned to the city after a three-year absence, and were held at the Hong Kong Palace Museum in West Kowloon. Hundreds of fans gathered behind barricades for a glimpse of the arriving celebrities, including Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe, Taiwanese star Greg Hsu Kuang-han and Korean idol Ji Chang-wook.
The award for best director went to Hirokazu Koreeda for his South Korean drama Broker, which explores the subject of unwanted babies.
Mainland Chinese-born actress Tang Wei took home best actress for her performance in the romantic thriller Decision to Leave, directed by Park Chan-wook. The film also earned trophies for best production design and best screenplay.
Five Hong Kong productions competed for awards in eight categories, with sci-fi visual feast Warriors of Future winning best visual effects. The best newcomer award went to Mak Pui-tung for his role in the courtroom thriller The Sparring Partner. Locals Karen Yip and Dora Ng took home trophies for best costume design for their work in Antia, about late Hong Kong superstar Anita Mui Yin-fong.
Taiwanese musician Tu Duu-chih won the best sound award for his work on the biopic.
Four special prizes were given in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the regional film industry. Apart from Leung, Japan’s Abe won the excellence in Asian cinema award, and also took home the AFA X STI best dressed prize, a special one given out to mark the museum’s hosting of the ceremony.
“I’m elated,” Abe said. “I haven’t been in Hong Kong for a while, but I don’t have enough time to stay this time to travel around. I‘ve been playing all kinds of roles over the years and I hope there will be some breakthrough characters to play in the future.”
Hong Kong kung fu film legend Sammo Hung Kam-bo received the lifetime achievement award, in recognition of his far-reaching influence on Asian films.
Hung, 71, took to the stage amid a standing ovation and told the audience: “I hope more Hong Kong audiences will support Hong Kong films.”
Just nine when he started his acting career, Hung went on to become one of the most well-known Hong Kong actors in the United States in the late 1990s with the success of the CBS TV series Martial Law, in which he played a Chinese detective on loan to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The AFA next generation award went to Korean actor Ji, who told the audience: “In the future, I would love to make movies overseas as I’ve always been filming in Korea. For Hong Kong actors, I’d love to work with Tony Leung. I don’t know if it will come true, but I just met him in person and took a selfie with him. It makes me so happy.”
Hundreds of fans gathered near the museum’s entrance to watch the stars arrive. Bhuneng Tim, a 34-year-old Filipino domestic helper, said she and her friends were there to support Ji and had been following his every movement since his arrival.
“We arrived at the airport at 7am. I was screaming when I saw him at the airport. Then we just rushed to the Palace Museum to find the best spot to see him again,” said Tim, who has been working in Hong Kong for eight years. “I have been in love with him since 2016. I just want him to marry me.”
Members of Hong Kong boy band Mirror Edan Lui Cheuk-on, Anson Lo Hon-ting, Lokman Yeung and Stanley Yau Sze-chun also attended the event.
Organised by the Asian Film Awards Academy, Sunday’s ceremony was the first in Hong Kong since 2019. The awards were held in Busan, South Korea for two years, while last year’s ceremony was postponed due to the Covid pandemic.