April 27, 2006


China Star chairman Charles Heung and his wifeChina Star, the hugely successful Hong Kong production and distribution company that includes One Hundred Years of Film amongst its various tentacles, is opening a casino in Macau. Inevitably, this has caused rumors to rustle that they're getting out of the film biz and getting into the very lucrative casino business instead. China Star's chairman is Charles Heung, whose father allegedly founded the Sun Yee On triad and supposedly his brother, Jimmy, runs the triad to this day. And it's not just me saying this. Charles Heung was actually convicted of running Sun Yee On in 1988, but the conviction was overturned on a technicality and a 1992 Senate Subcommittee identified him as an officer of Sun Yee On.

That aside, he's an incredibly powerful film industry figure whom most folks say has left any criminal ties behind. Now, amidst the rumors of China Star leaving movies, a sharp-eyed reader sent in a report that Heung's wife is speaking to Ming Pao Daily and clearing things up. She confirms that China Star is opening a casino in Macau, but says they will still make movies, although they will be more careful about what kind of movies they make. Movies like the triad drama, ELECTION, were profitable for them and that's the kind of project they still want to participate in.

In a related bit of news, Studio City is another project being built in Macau that'll include a casino and a film studio. One of the investors is ESun Holdings which has links to Media Asia, Hong Kong's other major film company.

April 27, 2006 at 10:02 AM in News | Permalink


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Excellent! Will this signal the end of the crap comedies that they've been churning out? Will this also mean that Sean Lau will be released from exile and sent to make the serious films he's destined for? Oh be still my beating heart...

Posted by: John | Apr 27, 2006 3:52:35 PM

Does this signify the triads leaving film industry in HK as it long stopped being as lucrative?

Do the rats start to leave the ship?

Posted by: eliza bennet | Apr 28, 2006 1:12:10 AM

Well, I don't think triad involvement in HK films is what a lot of folks think it it. I know that now when there's a location shakedown (triad guys show up on a location and demand money) that producers are more likely to call the cops than to fork over the cash like they used to.

And while some big producers like Charles Heung are/have been triad members there's no reason to think that China Star is some kind of front for triad activity. Triads are a bit like the Rotarians. Just because the CEO of Enron is a Rotarian it doesn't mean that Enron is a Rotarian business.

But there does still seem to be collusion between tough guys (who are rumored to be triads or involved with triads) and film folks - more on the star side than the producer side, however. The most recent situation involves Lau Kar-leung's wife, whose mother (88) reportedly ordered an attorney's face slashed over a dispute with the law firm's client, an ex-criminal who is reputed to have a large amount of cash stashed away but who is currently languishing in prison. Supposedly, the lawyer was invited to a sit-down with Eric Tsang, Lau Kar-leung and some others but he refused to stay and a few days later he had his face opened up with a carpet knife.

Details are a little hazy, but I'll post more when I can dig up the article about it again.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Apr 28, 2006 4:51:55 AM

Thank you so much for the information. It's a very good read. The HK film & triad connection is a fascinating issue. And I feel that triads are releasing their holds on the industry because it is not making as much money now.

Posted by: eliza bennet | May 1, 2006 4:04:31 AM

It was not Charles Heung who was convicted in 1988 as head of the Sun Yee On; it was his brother Wah Yim Heung.

Posted by: denunciator | May 8, 2006 10:12:22 AM

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