Victor Li

Six degrees

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 July, 2012, 12:00am

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Victor Li Tzar-kuoi is well on the way to succeeding his father, Li Ka-shing, as head of Hong Kong's most lucrative business empire after a third of the family holding company was transferred to him by his younger brother, Richard Li Tzar-kai, giving him a two-thirds share. While long a leader of various Li companies, Victor (below) is still most famous for having been kidnapped - and only freed after the payment of perhaps the largest ransom in history - in 1996, by colourful gangster Cheung Tze-keung ...

Known as 'Big Spender' for his lavish lifestyle and monumental gambling habit, which included one session that apparently cost him HK$200 million, Cheung was a criminal who didn't like to do things the easy way. Apart from robberies, he was in the business of kidnapping very rich people. When he was finally arrested, it was with 818kg of explosives, allegedly for blowing up government buildings. Unsurprisingly, his life has been committed to celluloid more than once, including the 1998 film Operation Billionaires, in which Cheung was played by Simon Yam Tat-wah ...

No one could accuse Yam, whose elder brother is retired deputy police commissioner Yam Tak-wing, of slacking off: since 1979 he has starred in more than 150 films, as well as plenty of television series. He made his American film debut in 2003 in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, in which he again played a crime lord, this time opposite Angelina Jolie ...

It was the first of the Tomb Raider series, filmed in Cambodia, that set Jolie down the road to becoming an advocate for humanitarian causes. She has been appointed a special envoy to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, which means she has a proper diplomatic role, rather than just turning up and talking about how awful things are, like most celebrities do. It was also on the set of Tomb Raider that she effected a rapprochement after decades of estrangement from a man whose political beliefs are far from her own: her father, Jon Voight ...

Formerly a liberal, the Midnight Cowboy and Deliverance star had moved across the political spectrum to the extent that, in 2007, when George W. was United States president, he claimed that people who criticised Bush were 'defacing our country'. And after Barack Obama was elected president, he was accused by Voight of 'taking away God's first gift to man: our free will' for trying to give people free health care. Soon after their Tomb Raider-influenced detente, father and daughter again fell out, and a year later he described Jolie as having 'serious mental problems'. The year after that, he was very convincing as a nasty assistant warden of a juvenile detention camp in the film Holes, in which his boss was played by Sigourney Weaver ...

Also a political animal, Weaver has campaigned against the iniquities of deep-sea trawling and advocated extensively for the poor. The first person to win two acting Golden Globes in the same year - in 1988, for Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl - her interest in performing was first piqued while she was a student at California's Stanford University, which also happens to be the alma mater of Hong Kong's next top tycoon, Victor Li.

 

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