Johnnie To, Sean Lau win at Golden Horse Awards
Pair pick up China's answer to Oscars for crime drama; best picture winner a surprise
Amy Nip and Agence France-Presse in Ilan, Taiwan
Hong Kong director Johnnie To Kei-fung won best director for Life Without Principle and Sean Lau Ching-wan was named best actor for his role in the movie at Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Awards last night.
Lau pretended the award at what are widely known as the Chinese Oscars was no big deal, despite having beaten fellow Hong Kong actors Nick Cheung Ka-fai, Chapman To Man-chat and Nicholas Tse Ting-fung and Taiwanese actor Joseph Chang to the prize.
"Acting in movies is not for getting awards," he said after being handed his Golden Horse.
Then, after a short pause, he added: "I'm joking. Of course it is for getting awards."
The prize would be a present for his parents and wife, said Lau as partner Amy Kwok Oi-ming looked on with tears in her eyes.
Lau had looked tense before being announced the winner, and perhaps not without reason. He received best actor nominations for his roles in Life and Overheard 2 at the Hong Kong Film Awards earlier this year, but lost out to Andy Lau Tak-wah for A Simple Life.
Last night, though, Andy Lau was chairman of the judging panel for the Golden Horse awards rather than competing for one himself.
In Life Without Principle, Lau plays a gangster who bets on the stock market in the hope of bailing out his friend.
The actor collected To's award on the director's behalf.
The crime drama, which follows a gangster, a bank officer and a policeman in their desperate scramble for cash amid the global financial crisis, also won the award for best original screenplay.
Taiwanese star Gwei Lun-mei was named best actress for her role in Gf * Bf.
A tearful Gwei thanked her parents. "You two have put up with much loneliness in order to let your daughter pursue what she wants to do," she said.
"I love filming movies very much. I will keep up the work."
Gwei beat off competition from Bai Baihe, Hao Lei, Denise Ho Wan-sze and Sandrine Pinna.
Gf * Bf portrays three students in a romantic triangle after they leave their hometown for the big city in the 1980s. It was nominated in, but did not win, six other categories, though the film did take home the audience choice award.
Mainland production Beijing Blues, directed by Gao Qunshu and about plain-clothes police hunting down thieves and con artists in Beijing, was the surprise best picture winner. It also bagged the awards for best cinematography and film editing.
"This is really unexpected ... I am only an amateur director who shot a few films. I didn't expect that I'd have anything to do with the Golden Horse," Gao said.
Lau and To weren't the only Hong Kong winners. Ronald Cheng Chung-kei snatched the best supporting actor award for Vulgaria, in which he plays a mainland triad boss who invests in movies.
"I only filmed it for two days," said a surprised Cheng.
And Chin Ka-lok, who won best action choreography for Motorway, said 2012 had been a good year for him.
"I get so much this year: a wife, a child and now a Golden Horse Award," he said, referring his marriage to actress Angela Tong Ying-ying, who is now pregnant with their first child.
Mainland-Hong Kong productions Flying Swords of Dragon Gate and the Bullet Vanishes, which were nominated for a total of seven awards, won for best visual effects and best make-up & costume design respectively.