Stanley TongApr 7, 1960, Hong Kong, China
Born in Hong Kong, Tong began his martial arts training at age 12, studying Hung Boxing, Tai Chi and Kick Boxing. At age 17, he moved to Canada where he taught martial arts while attending school, where he also developed an interest in fast cars and precision driving. Returning to Hong Kong, and with the help of his brother-in-law, veteran actor Lo Lich, Tong entered show business in 1980 as a part-time stuntman at the Shaw Brothers Studios. He performed hundreds of stunts over the next three years, often doubling for the likes of Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung and Michelle Khan. This exciting work reportedly took its toll on Tong's body as he amassed an impressive collection of injures including a broken shoulder, several cracked ribs, a cracked skull, a broken leg, damaged knees and various back injuries. Not too surprisingly, he decided his future lay behind the camera.To further his goal of learning all aspects of filmmaking, Tong became an assistant director in 1983. His background as a stunt man helped in his promotion to assistant stunt coordinator, a position he held on six films. Tong also diversified into production managing and screenwriting while returning in front of the camera as a stunt driver. Eventually, he advanced to the position of stunt coordinator, notably serving in both this capacity and co-director on the popular action films "Angel 2" and "Angel 3" (both 1987). Tong stunt coordinated four more films before establishing Golden Gate, his own modest film production company.Tong made his debut as a filmmaker executive producing, writing, directing and stunt directing "Stone Age Warriors" (1990). This low-budget ($1 million) actioner was hyped as the first fiction film authorized to be shot amid the aboriginal head hunters of New Guinea. Tong's action-comedy about two city girls abroad was a notably difficult on-location shoot featuring dangerous stunts and major action set pieces. "Stone Age Warriors" nearly bankrupted the neophyte but it attracted the attention of Golden Harvest producer Leonard Ho. Impressed that Tong managed some sequences that were logistically comparable to those in Jackie Chan's $15 million "Armour of God" (1986), Golden Harvest commissioned Tong to direct "Police Story 3: Supercop" (1992). Boasting the first screen pairing of action icons Chan and Michelle Khan, this lavish adventure became the highest-grossing film in Asia that year and was notable for its Hollywood-styled action sequences wherein Chan's character utilized automatic weaponry and dangled from helicopters.Dubbed and re-edited, "Supercop" (1996) proved an apt choice for Chan's second major US release. Reviewers cheered but the box-office take was more modest than for "Rumble in the Bronx." The same was true for the James Bond-ish "First Strike" (1997). Nevertheless, Hollywood took notice of Tong's talent for delivering maximum bang for the buck. Disney hired Tong to helm the live-action "Mr. Magoo" (1997), starring Leslie Nielsen as the accident-prone but lucky nearsighted character of cartoon fame.