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Premiere caps Leslie Cheung tribute

The Hong Kong star's last film, "Inner Senses," has its L.A. debut as part of a retrospective.

December 03, 2003|Kevin Thomas | Times Staff Writer

In his final film, "Inner Senses," Leslie Cheung, who leaped to his death in April from the 24th floor of Hong Kong's Mandarin Oriental Hotel, plays an empathetic, workaholic psychiatrist who cures a young woman of her demons only to become overcome by his own once they begin an affair. The psychiatrist's repressed torment brings him to the very brink that in real life the Hong Kong film star did not step back from.

Cheung, who left a note explaining that he was plagued by emotional problems, had also recently broken up with his longtime companion.

"Inner Senses," directed by Law Chi-Leung, which boasts one of Cheung's most intense portrayals, will receive its Los Angeles premiere Saturday at 8 p.m. as part of Regent Showcase's Leslie Cheung Tribute.

Cheung, who onstage was an electrifying, gender-bending pop star, came to international fame a decade ago in Chen Kaige's "Farewell My Concubine," playing a gay opera star whose 52-year unrequited love for a fellow performer ends in suicide. Openly gay by the time of his death at age 46, Cheung was a boyishly handsome actor of remarkable range and versatility. Off-screen, he was a gracious, relaxed charmer who spoke fluent English with a British accent -- he studied textile design at the University of Leeds.

The retrospective begins Saturday with Peter Chan Ho-San's scintillating comedy "He's a Woman, She's a Man" (1994), in which Cheung's top-flight talent manager finds himself attracted to a singing-contest winner who has disguised herself as a man. Tsui Hark's lively 1995 comedy "The Chinese Feast" cast Cheung as a con man engaged in a cooking competition with the panache of a martial artist. A reception and a tribute program precede "Inner Senses."

Sunday's lineup begins with Ronny Yu's "The Bride With White Hair" (1993), an exquisite "Romeo and Juliet" romantic martial arts tragedy. Wong Kar-Wai's wrenching, jagged 1997 film "Happy Together" teams Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as tempestuous lovers adrift in Buenos Aires. Derek Yee Tung-Sing's light-hearted 1996 comedy "Viva Erotica," which closes the retrospective, finds Cheung playing an out-of-work director who seizes a chance at a comeback by making a soft-core porn film.

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Leslie Cheung Tribute

Where: Regent Showcase Theater, 614 N. La Brea Ave.

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.: "He's a Woman, She's a Man" (1994)

Saturday, 3:30 p.m.: "The Chinese Feast" (1995)

Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: Reception

Saturday, 7 p.m.: Tribute, featuring video selections and guest speakers

Saturday, 8 p.m.: "Inner Senses" (2002). Also screens Monday, Dec. 10 and 11, 5:30 and 10:15 p.m.

Sunday, 12:30 p.m.: "The Bride With White Hair" (1993)

Sunday, 3 p.m.: "Happy Together" (1997)

Sunday, 6 p.m.: "Viva Erotica" (1996)

Contact: (323) 934-2944 or www.asianfilm.org

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