Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book review: 從零開始 (Now and Then) -- post #1 (in a series)

I'm currently reading a book called 從零開始 (literally translated: "Starting From Zero") and figured I would share some thoughts about it on my blog.

As a means of introduction, the book 從零開始 is actually a special publication from MingPao Weekly, which is one of HK's premier entertainment / celebrity / fashion news magazines . I've been a long time fan of MingPao Weekly magazine, as the entertainment news reporting is quite professional and does not take the same approach as those trashy gossip / tabloid magazines that are rampant in HK. Mingpao Weekly does a lot of features on celebrities and famous people, but its method is primarily through one on one interviews with the celebrities themselves, rather than making up stuff based on their own speculation -- this is one of the unique aspects of the magazine (and one of the primary reasons why I like reading it, since it's a first hand account from the celebrities themselves).

Ok, so back to the book actually is comprised of 3 volumes, all released at different times (volume 1 was published back in 2008, volume 2 came out in 2009, and volume 3 just came out this year, in 2010). The book consists of a compilation of celebrity interviews as well as short biographical accounts of the celebrities (i.e. how they started, the highlights and lowlights of their careers, some details about their personal lives and relationships, etc.). Each volume features different celebrities and the interviews are done by Huang Li Ling, a well-known entertainment reporter/writer in HK who has worked for Mingpao magazine for many years. And the celebrities featured in the book are not the 'average joe' -- any long-time follower of HK entertainment (or a HK entertainment fanatic like me) is sure to recognize every single celebrity featured in each of the books (just to give you an idea -- some of the famous names in Volume 1: Leslie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Sammi Cheng, Carina Lau, Jackie Chan, etc. and Volume 2: Tony Leung, Anita Mui, Andy Lau, Faye Wong, etc., and Volume 3: Lydia Shum, Eason Chan, Cecilia Cheung, Josephine Hsiao, etc.)

I actually read Volume 1 already back in 2008 when the book first came out and currently I'm reading Volume 2 (yes, I'm behind, since volume 2 came out last year and volume 3 is already out, which I haven't gotten to yet). However, since the book is a compilation of interviews that are not inter-connected and does not go in any particular order, I am going to re-read parts of Volume 1 and share my thoughts on celebrities from both volumes 1 and 2 (I'll write about volume 3 once I get around to reading it).

So here goes the first feature: my idol, Jacky Cheung (yup, you guessed!)

First of all, I have to make it clear that Jacky is a very private, low-key person who does not like to reveal a lot about his personal life -- of course, he has done seemingly countless interviews in the 25 years that he has been in the entertainment industry (and some details do come out about his family and stuff, though rare), but in comparisons to most HK entertainers, the number of interviews he actually does is few and far between (plus he is quite selective about who he agrees to interview with, especially if it's an in-depth interview that touches on personal life). With that said, I'm sure you can imagine my excitement (me being a dedicated, long-time Jacky fan) at getting the chance to read about him (a lot of it in his own words) in this book.

Though most of the information about him in the book is stuff I already knew (hey, I'm not a 20 year Jacky fan for nothing!), I still thoroughly enjoyed reading the account. The part about how the infamous scar under Jacky's right eye came about was quite amusing -- I loved the way he described it (though I must say that the response he gave to a reporter during an interview one time was way more hilarious -- it wasn't the true account of course -- he was just joking that time). For those of you who are curious though, I'll give you the short version of how his scar came about (btw, it's a little-known story that even some die-hard Jacky fans may not be aware of): basically, it was the result of his cousin accidentally slashing him with a meat cleaver (they both loved to watch TV when they were kids and one day, they were pretending to re-enact one of the scenes from the old "One-Armed Swordsman" movie -- except with real knives as 'swords'!). So I guess you could say that he got the scar from being a mischievous little rascal (at least that's the way Jacky puts it....hahaha!).

Another interesting section was the part that talked about the lowest point in Jacky’s career and life – the time back in 1987/1988 when he almost lost everything that he cared about (his career, family, friends, fans, etc.) because of alcoholism. Jacky has actually talked about this point in his life in several interviews in the past and even though I’ve heard it many times (I could probably recite it by now), I never tire of it because the story is so poignant and encouraging (in my opinion, that is). It’s a story that I would actually like to save and share some other time when I can dedicate an entire blog post to it and do it justice.

The last highlight (I’m only touching on a few things, since you know I could go on forever about Jacky) from the book is the section on his relationship with his wife May Lo as well as his many friends in the entertainment industry (Eric Tsang, Anita Mui, Tony Leung, Leslie Cheung, etc.). I loved reading the funny stories and the tidbits about their various gatherings and parties.

Of course, there was a lot more stuff about Jacky in the book that I didn’t cover in this post. So I definitely encourage those who want to know more (both fans and non-fans alike) and who can read Chinese to get the book and read it – there’s also a lot of great stuff about the HK entertainment industry in there.


  1. Hey! I feel robbed! Protest! Protest! LOL!

    Looking forward to future updates!

  2. Hahahaha...I know, I know! Sorry! But hey, you'll get tidbits about Jacky from me no matter what happens anyway, so no worries there (LOL)!

    To be honest, I'm actually looking forward to finishing the books as well, since I love reading about celebrities, especially biographical stuff liek this that we get through interviews (and not made up stuff from the Media).

    Stay tuned....haha!

  3. I know! I like it better as well so I'm excited to read the recounts from you.