Adam Cheng has a nick name, "Chow Goon." Years ago, Adam played several different roles in the ancient Chinese serial. He successfully portrayed the image of a most eligible bachelor of that period of time-----the "Goon Jai," handsome, polite and knowledgeable. His colleague Debrah Dic Bo Lai named him "Chow Goon."
He loved to imitate other people. His dream was to be a movie star. So he applied for the training class sponsored by the Shaw's film company. His neighbor once told his mother, "He was half the size of a person his age. How could he be a movie star?" The term half-sized referred to Adam being so skinny. Adam was a playful youngster. He liked to catch spiders on the hillside. Table tennis was his other favourite. Janudice was the reason why he was skinny and looked sallow. Although he was not bad looking, he didn't look as good as he does today. At times, he felt depressed since he couldn't even picture himself in a movie. Today, his "tai hup" image is so eminent. "It proves that if you set yourself a goal, you definitely will get a decent reward for your effort." Adam always says.
During his training, he worked as a stand-in. Although he didn't even get paid for the job, he was more than happy to participate. He was grateful for the experience. Later on, there's an opportunity for him to join another film company. There, he met late instructor, director Leung Ming. Leung used a psychological method practiced by a well-known Russian theatrical theorist. In order to express subconsciously, the actor had to fully prepare himself psychologically for the character portrayed. Then the expression became more realistic and natural. The method worked extremely well for Adam. Adam said Leung was the one who opened up a new side to his acting.
Leung had a drama team at Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park. Adam was his assistant. It was merely a utility person's job with a glamorous title. Not to mention he was given a small part in the drama. One day, the leading actor disappeared because of financial problems. Leung highly recommended Adam to take the actor's place. So Adam became the substitute. He did not know his lines at all. The prompter was so loud that people in the front rows could hear him. However, everyone liked Adam's performance. The review was exceptionally good. Then, Adam decided to give up his training at the Shaw's so he could devote himself to the drama team. His experience in the drama team was the foundation of his acting.
Those days Hong Kong was named the "cultural desert." Drama was never widely accepted. Due to the lack of response, the drama team was forced to split up. Adam went back to his training at Shaw's. Shortly after that, he was given a supporting role in a movie. He was so excited. But at the end he found out that it was only his shadow that was filmed. If not for his height, he couldn't even recognize his own shadow!
While fiddling in the training class, he learned that there was a drama competition in the Tsim Sha Tsui recreation center. He entered the competition and played the leading actor in a drama called "Lost My Way." The story about how a bad youngster turned over a new leaf. The plot was so well written that it received the best drama award and Adam was awarded best actor. This was a turning point to his acting career and also a beginning to his movie career so to speak. At the celebration party after the competition, he met Mr. Kwan, owner of the Kin's film company. He appreciated Adam's talent and offered him a 5-year contract. Adam was only 20 years old so his mother had to sign on his behalf.
Under the contract, Adam was given $250 a month. Being a "movie star," public transportation became history. He had to dress nicely, at that time, a suit was $280 which was more than his salary. Fortunately, his mother would not mind subsidizing. "Black Killer" was his first movie at the Kin's. He was so called the leading actor. However, Chan Po-Chu was playing both the leading role of the actress as well as actor. Adam took so much pride teaming up with the most famous actress Chan Po-Chu.
Thinking that would be a smooth ride from then on. Unfortunately Mandarin movies became more and more popular and Cantonese movies took a sharp decline. His contract would not allow him to participate in any Mandarin movies. Meanwhile, his first wife left with his daughter. His father passed away the same period of time. Being the oldest son, he had to assume all the financial responsibilities. He needed to make a living while not acting. Adam spent $5000 on a knitting machine. Together with a friend from the training class, they managed to get some work orders. But the machine was too new that it kept cutting the yarn. They missed delivery date. He partner was so mad that he left. Since it's quite impossible for a "movie star" to ask for more work orders, his knitting business flopped and the machine was put in storage. As the sayings go: "As you lose your lover, you lose your army too."
According to Adam, that probably was the lowest point of his life. He got himself drunk from time to time in order to escape. Luck was around corner for him, he was introduced to sing in a lounge. The $1500 monthly salary took care of the household expense. He met some TVB artist at the lounge who gave him a lead to TVB. He hosted a musical program called "Melody for Feeling". His performance was quite promising. In the 70's, producer Robert Chua brought him to the EYT show. Adam, liked all other artists in the show had to be the jack of all trades-------singing, acting, and doing commercials.
In 1971, Adam took part in a serial "Freezing Point." He received the best future award for that year. The first TV serial that featured a theme song was "The Mist." Adam was the leading actor as well as the singer for that song. Adam Cheng became a popular leading actor. Until 1976, playing 3 different roles in the serial "The Story of Book and Sword," Adam became more well-known. His "tai hup" image was very well accepted. "Chor Lau Heung" the ancient Chinese James Bond stirred up the so called "Chor Lau Heung Fever" both in Hong Kong and more seriously in Taiwan. A few years ago, the serial "New Adventure of Chor Lau Heung" was still the top rated TV serial in Taiwan when it was aired. His appearance, performance, charisma, and martial art skill is still as great as ever before.
Aside from his acting career, Adam is also a successful singer. His first album "Lover Got Married" (Ngoi Yun Git Fun Liu) received promising support from the audience. During the 70's TV drama theme songs were very popular. Being the male lead for a lot of the serials, Adam was the singer for all the theme songs of his serials. The song "Lonely Wanderer" (Tin Ngai Gu Hak) was dominated the #1 spot on the popular chart of RTHK for 2 months and stayed top ten for 6 months. "Heaven Sword & Dragon Sabre" was #1 for 5 weeks on the top ten chart. Theme songs from "Heaven sword & dragon sabre," "Chor Lau Heung," "Rotation," "The Adventures of Zoo" and "Sai Yiu Yuop Do Shan" were awarded the 10 Golden Songs of RTHK. Adam had produced over 40 albums, one of which was produced in Taiwan. Adam had also made a Chinese opera album. This proves that Adam is a truely diversified singer.
Adam was a pioneer when it comes to musical. His musical debut was the Chinese version of "Cerano De Bergerac," story of a famous poet. His tone and emotions was absolutely inspiring and unforgettable.
Chow Goon's career is already at it's climax. Yet, he does not give up any opportunity to polish his "Tai Hup" image. Lau Kar Leung is his kung fu instructor. Tsui Wing Shiu and Hsu Pui are both his singing teacher while Chan Siu Fung coached him on his opera skill. Chan taught Adam his most eminent song "Before Shan Pak's death." Adam was able to perform it in his own personalized version using his style and tone. No wonder he was told by the fortune teller that "Will be forever famous in the Chinese opera world."
Everyone knows that Chow Goon is extremely hard-working. He will do all kinds of research including the background of the character and historic materials in order to get the full understanding of both the script and the character he portrays. Diligence, willingness to learn and devotion is the reasons why Chow Goon remains so successful for decades.
There had been several funny situations being in showbiz all these years. During the production of Book and sword, there were too many people involved. It was almost impossible to get everyone's attention at the same time. One time they were on location at a hillside. Producer Wong Tin Lum all of a sudden yell "help, help!" Well, this was just his scheme to get everyone's attention. One time in Kao Shown, Taiwan, Adam was performing his very famous theme song "Rotation." He sat on a high stool and the spot light was directly on him. The atmosphere was perfect. However, he was hit by the so-called "stage plague"--he forgot the lyrics. So, he decided to make up his own lyrics! Chow Goon remembered vividly that once his feeling was hurt badly. A while back, when he was working as a "stand-in", he saw a van parked on the sidewalk. Inside sat a movie star. Adam didn't think twice, let himself in the van. The movie star immediately said, "Hey! Who do you think you are? Not everyone can sit here!" He was very embarrassed. He would never treat anyone like this since he recalled how exactly he felt back then. Somehow, this incidence had encouraged him to work hard so he could become a good actor.
Thirty years passes by without a trace. However, Adam Cheng Siu Chow had left quite a number of footsteps in his career. There's a saying, "Many changes could occur in 10 years." One can imagine the number of changes that could happen in 30 years. It's not easily attainable for other celebrities to establish the kind of fame like Adam does and yet kept his popularity all these years. He success is certainly not brought to him by luck. He earned that with his devotion, his absolute focus at work, his diversity, his diligence and his down to earth personality. These are all wonderful qualities worth learning from.