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Original Title:
Ngor yiu sing ming

Hong Kong 2006

Comedy, Drama

Lawrence Lau Kwok-Cheung

Lau Ching-Wan
Huo Siyan
Lai Yiu-Cheung
Candy Yu On-On
Tony Leung Ka-Fai
Ekin Cheng
Gordon Chan
Fruit Chan
Ann Hui
Derek Tsang
Niki Chow
Stephen Tung
Henry Fong
Elena Kong
Guk Fung
Samson Chiu

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My Name is Fame

Story: Poon Ka-Fai (Lau Ching-Wan) was a sought after actor back in the day when he had a stellar ascent out from nowhere, even getting him an award as "Best Newcomer". However, since that day a few years have passed and Ka-Fai has to struggle with bad actor colleagues, perfunctory scripts and low budgets at movie sets. The advice he gives his colleagues doesn't hit the right notes and so he is even disliked by them, leading him to get less role propositions month by month. His acting career seems to be finished. This is exactly the time when Faye Ng (Huo Siyan) enters his life. A girl who herself wants to become an actress and admires Ka-Fai, even though he leaves no doubt that he doesn't want anything to do with her. Nevertheless, Ng is persistent, and after he realizes that Ng actually tries to put some effort into her acting, Ka-Fai provides her with tipps and advice.
Kai-fai takes Faye in as a student, eventually, and even lets her live at his place. Between the two a love story unfolds, but Faye suddenly comes to an important point in her career. Her mentor tries to save her from making a wrong decision, but Faye realizes that it's time to go her own way...

Review: "My Name is Fame" is an interesting comedy with drama tendencies, which doesn't take itself too serious and even makes fun of Hong Kong's movie industry these days, and successfully so. Some of the dialogues are even unexpectedly profound and the story of the film always manages to push us between reality, respectively movie, and movie within a movie reality. Aside from getting a very fascinating look at the way films are made in Hong Kong, "My Name is Fame" can stick to you thanks to main actor Lau Ching-Wan. Somehow this just seems to be his very own story, or at least we often get to see a certain side or two from Ka-Fai, which certainly has to be Lau's. So, in a way Lau is playing himself and he even doesn't refrain from poking fun at himself. At the same time he also gets lots of words of praise, even if it's himself who gives him a pat on his back, so that the border between Lau and his film character becomes very thin and blurry in a way that is very refreshing.

It really is a shame, that one of Hong Kong's most outstanding actors, and right next to Anthony Wong arguably the best of the country, wasn't honoured with even one single "Hong Kong Film Award" as best actor for his numerous impressive achievements, until the making of this film. Lau Ching-Wan makes fun of this very fact as Ka-Fai in a rehearsed speech, in which he realizes that an award wouldn't have any meaning anyway, when he recalls what jerk got the award the year before... Right he is.
Nevertheless, in its core the outer shell that stands as the plot of "My Name is Fame" is rather simple. We have an actor who is past his peak, and who eventually has to face this fact and that he never really could get that breakthrough he wanted. Just then he finds a student in Faye, who, after Ka-Fai being reluctant at first, he starts to impart all his knowledge on. He helps her to maybe accomplish what he never did. The teacher-student relationship is very appealing, but the whole thing also heads towards a romance. Fortunately, this romance works on a more subtle level and takes place in the background.

Interestingly, "My Name is Fame" may be a drama in some way, but it always keeps alive its positive main mood. Kai-Fai is without a doubt someone who keeps heading south, but in the end he doesn't completely hit the bottom, thanks to some true friends he has, that help him out in times of need. For example there is Tony Leung Ka-Fai, who simply plays himself, and provides Lau's cinematic alter ego with the advice, that you always have to hold on to your dreams and keep on pedalling in the water if you don't want to drown and actually want to see your dreams being fulfilled one day.
Furthermore, there is one point in the story at which Faye has to decide if she accepts a role in a more revealing movie, or not. Either the film will become a great success as a work of art, or she will maneuver herself right into her own downfall as an actress of a Category-III movie. There are enough moments throughout "My Name is Fame" that could have served to let the movie slip into more dark and dramatic realms, but director Lawrence Lau Kwok-Cheung never chooses to go this way. "Fortunately" I should say, because normally we would have to expect otherwise from Hong Kong movies. However, Lawrence Lau goes into a welcomely different direction.

Sets, props and the tasks of the different people behind the camera are things we get a closer look at, sometimes in a more detailed fashion and sometimes we only get to see the rudiments, but in any way we get a feeling for what it means to shoot a movie in Hong Kong. Because this works a little bit differently from how you do it in Hollywood. Being an actor isn't a profitable job, as we see, and you always have to keep your name in the mouth of others in order to be planned into future works, too. Somehow you need to pay your rent, even if you are an actor, and thus you shouldn't be picky when it comes to a certain role.
Ka-Fai gets worked up about the supporting cast he has to play with in front of the camera, and he has to struggle with scripts, which aren't well elaborated and seem to be finished by the writers just a minute ago. The actor is also just allowed to learn his text a few minutes before actual shooting, which surely makes it a stressful job. You really haven't chosen an easy job being an actor in Hong Kong, but Ka-Fai/Lau Ching-Wan doesn't care, because he simply loves what he does.

At the end Ka-Fai understands just that, and gets on his feet again. Faye has been a great help to him, too, and so everything is steered to a Happy End, which luckily isn't too happy. There always is the aftertaste of a drama to be found here, even though just faint and not easy to perceive. Yet, this aftertaste is adding a lot to the movie, and also makes the several cameos of actors like Ekin Cheng, Fiona Sit (who unjustly doesn't come off well concerning her acting skills as the archetype of pop princess turning to acting), Niki Chow and directors like Gordon Chan, Fruit Chan or Ann Hui seem less trivial. You can't say that "My Name is Fame" aims for realism, but it serves an interesting perspective on the movie industry, the actors and their daily struggle, and also can provide us with a message, which surely won't win any price for originality, yet is wrapped-up well: Just keep persistently pursuing your dream, and someday it will come true.

Newcomer Huo Siyan can really give a convincing performance, even if her dubbed voice is quite irritating at times. Nevertheless, the movie's true star remains Lau Ching-Wan, of course. And in fact he doesn't need to do a lot, since as I already stated he partly plays himself. Still, his performance is once again great and very charismatic. The ending which is more or less left open just fits to the film. Ka-Fai's words that he knows that he is a good actor and doesn't need an award as proof, is exactly the reason why this movie is more profound than you might initially think. That is because, naturally, it is also Lau Ching-Wan who is talking here. BTW: Right he is again, and thus I just can congratulate him with words of praise, as always. But fate plays its own funny little game: For his portrayal in "My Name is Fame" Lau Ching-Wan finally got an award as best actor at the "Hong Kong Film Awards"... So there actually is justice in this world.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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