This leading Hong Kong action filmmaker has kept a lower profile than some of his contemporaries as far as publicity is concerned. Nevertheless, he has helmed some of the key films of the "heroic bloo...
Spent six months working as an actor; decided not to pursue it (date approximate)
Directorial debut, "Espirit D'Amour"
Began career as a TV director; decided he did not like it
Worked as a production assistant
Spent a year in an actor's training course in Hong Kong; same class as Chow Yun-fat
Returned to HK to direct "Full Alert"
US directorial debut, "Maximum Risk", starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
Produced, directed and wrote story for breakthrough feature, "City on Fire"; first collaboration with Chow Yun-fat
Became a Canadian citizen; returned to Hong Kong
Reunited with Van Damme for "Replicant"
Studied filmmaking at Toronto's York University; did not graduate
This leading Hong Kong action filmmaker has kept a lower profile than some of his contemporaries as far as publicity is concerned. Nevertheless, he has helmed some of the key films of the "heroic bloodshed" cycle of HK action movies. The hard-hitting heist film, "City on Fire" (1987)--best known stateside as the unacknowledged but indisputable inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's 1991 debut "Reservoir Dogs"--gave Lam his first major hit and inaugurated a series of features ("Prison on Fire" 1987; "School on Fire" 1988).
Lam's films are noted for the grim realism of their violence and their gritty surfaces. Whereas violence in the films of John Woo is often aestheticized and balletic, similar acts in Lam's world are brutal and brutalizing. In his most extreme work, "Full Contact" (1992), Lam created a more dreamy and stylized environment for the gory confrontation between an honorable gang leader (Chow Yun-fat) and his psychotic gay rival (Simon Yam). Even jaded Hong Kong audiences were frightened away by the level of mayhem on display. As in "City on Fire", Lam made mincemeat of the notion of honor among thieves.
Lam followed in the footsteps of John Woo by making his US directorial debut with a Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle, "Maximum Risk" (1996). Here the protagonist must take on the identity of a gangster twin that he never knew he had. Reviews were mixed and box-office was not up to par but Lam had arrived.
wrote "Prison on Fire" directed by Ringo Lam
"I like editing because you feel like God. If I don't like this guy, I can cut him away; if I don't like this shot I can throw it out, You don't need to communicate with too many people. You only tell the editor what you want." --Ringo Lam to Rolanda Chu in Hong Kong Film Magazine, Number 4