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Ben Wong: “I Am a PK!”

By on October 12, 2012

Ben Wong: “I Am a PK!” thumbnail

It took Ben Wong (黃智賢) nearly 25 years to realize that maybe being a lead actor in today’s film industry may not be so glorious after all.

The Lives of Omission <潛行狙擊> and Highs and Lows <雷霆掃毒> star became a part of the TVB family as early as 1989, when he was hired to host the popular child program, Flash Fax <閃電傳真機>. “I am and was always a huge fan of television,” said Ben. “When I was 20 years old, I joined the ‘Youth Ambassador’ contest hosted by TVB. That contest introduced me to the industry.”

After hosting the children’s program for a few years, Ben finally earned a chance to make a brief appearance in the 1993 wuxia drama, The Heroes from Shaolin <武尊少林>. Ben’s first major role was in Lee Tim Sing’s (李添勝) 1994 adaptation of The Legend of the Condor Heroes <射鵰英雄傳>, where he portrayed “Guo Jing’s” best childhood friend, “Tolui”. A year later, Ben was cast as “Ah Hoi” in the sitcom, A Kindred Spirit <真情>, and Ben’s popularity exploded in a matter of months.

The success of Ah Hoi led TVB to cast Ben in 1997’s Triumph Over Evil <真命天師>, in which Ben portrayed the lead character, “Lin Nin”. Lin Nin remained as Ben’s only lead role in his career.

“I worked my butt off to film all 20 episodes, but in the end, the company decided to give it a poor Christmas time slot,” said Ben bitterly. “Not only did TVB not have confidence in the drama, they also cut out at least 5 episodes for the broadcast. Tell me, how would a drama with 5 episodes edited out be any benefit to script? I am not Stephen Chow (周星馳). No matter how badly written his dramas were, he could still attract an audience by his charisma. I thought TVB wanted to keep me. I thought they had intentions to promote me, but in the end, they chose an uninteresting character that no one could do justice for me to portray. I was young and I wanted a better future, so I left.

“Now, I realize that being a lead actor isn’t so great after all. You have to carry an entire drama on your shoulders. Nowadays, I’m not burdened with anything to carry. I am putting myself in the lowest level, and I view things in the simplest format. I cannot control viewership ratings or popularity. All I need to concentrate on now is to do my best and improve. Do I want to be a lead actor? Ten years ago, I would definitely say yes! As an actor, who wouldn’t want to be leading? But now… I’ll rather you raise my salary instead!”

Ben: “I Am a PK”

Ben’s returning breakthrough in the industry was not what he really had in mind. Ben knew he had to start from scratch again after returning to TVB in 2004. He had already lost count to how many villainous and unlikable minor roles he had portrayed in the last few years. His roles were all very unlike Ah Hoi, and Ben assumed that he would never regain his Ah Hoi’s popularity again.

Winning the TVB Best Supporting Actor in 2010 for his role as “Spicy Ginger” in Lives of Omission was a pleasant surprise.  He knew, for one, that his role was well-accepted, and he expected himself to win that year, but it was not the kind of breakthrough he had anticipated. Ah Hoi was sincere, hardworking, and considerate. Spicy Ginger was cunning, mysterious, and dark.

Ben took up another ambiguously dark role for Highs and LowsFace Magazine earlier erroneously reported that Ben’s character, “Poon Sir,” would rape Kate Tsui’s (徐子珊) character Pat. Upon hearing this, Ben appeared nervous and stuttered, “I’m a PK, but not to such an extent! I don’t mind playing a villain, but it’s not to the point where I will take advantage of women! I think that is a huge personality flaw.”

Ben sighed, “I feel terrible. Raping is already bad, but raping Kate Tsui is worse! A lot of her fans yelled at me on Weibo. The anger died down a bit when I cleared things up, but Raymond Lam (林峯) has even more fans. I am also Raymond’s opponent in Highs and Lows, and I had to compete with him every day. Raymond’s fans has been yelling at me since the broadcast of the drama first began. They all said I am very despicable!”

An Abnormal Childhood

Ben is the fourth child from a family of nine children. He and his siblings grew up in a humble neighborhood in Tsam Shui Po. His parents owned a roasted meat and butcher shop. Ben and his siblings would spend every day of the week to look after the small business.

“We were not normal children. I knew how to pluck chicken feathers, slice onions and gingers, and scrape intestines by the time I was six. When I was a bit older, I started butchering chickens and bloodletting them.

“I had afternoon classes for primary school instead of morning ones. Everyday, I would wake up early in the morning to help out at the shop while wearing my school uniform. I don’t go to school until after lunch. After school, I would go back to the shop to help out again. I would not have time to do my homework until 8 or 9 PM.”

With his father as a gambling addict, Ben’s family was burdened with the task to repay his debts.

“Every single day,” Ben said tiredly. “My father loved to gamble. The loan sharks came to us every single day for my father’s debts. All the hard money we had earned everyday would all be gone in the end. Interestingly, my siblings and I never got into the habit of gambling like my father. Because of him, we were burdened to repay his debts, and we learned that this isn’t the kind of life we wanted.

“I couldn’t stand living this kind of life anymore. So when I turned fifteen years old, I decided to apply for cadet school. I graduated two years later. In my three years of being a cop, the most I did was arresting illegal hawkers, jaywalkers, and giving out speeding tickets. I chased criminals before, but I never fired a gun.”

In God’s Embrace

“My mom is my hero. Only she could stand my dad. She sacrificed a lot this family, and I respect her a lot. What we regret the most as children is to see our mother struggling and suffering for most of her life. She was never able to live comfortably.”

Ben’s mother passed away in 2009 from cancer. “She was so skinny in the last few days of her life. It was another suffering… but leaving this world can be seen as liberation. My mother and I are both Christians, and we believe in heaven after death. We all live. We all suffer. What is better than to be able to be in the embrace of God after our sufferings are over?”

Source: Face Magazine #281 via ihktv.com

This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.

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  • Readers' Comments (83)

    1. Funn Lim says:

      What’s a PK?

      “I am not Stephen Chow (周星馳). No matter how badly written his dramas were, he could still attract an audience by his charisma. ”

      He has got that right! About the charisma thing. I like Ben. He has improved a lot in his acting and he can play both bad guy and good guy convincingly and yes he does look like a cop but maybe give him something else now?

      • Jayne says:

        Funn,

        PK= pook kai… for elegance didn’t want to spell it out in the title. Thought it was a curse word everyone knew. :P

        I hope that Ben’s good friend, Kevin Cheng, will cast him in his upcoming dramas. Bring Ben’s talent to China and let him make more money!

        • Funn Lim says:

          Pook kai is not a curse word. When I say pook kai means I am dirt poor. Or in his case, maybe down on his luck. Seriously, not a curse word.

        • Jayne says:

          Funn,
          I thought pook Kai is considered to be a curse word?

          Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the phrase:

          Puk gai (Chinese: 仆街; Cantonese Yale: puk1 gaai1) literally means “falling onto street”, which is a common curse phrase in Cantonese that may be translated into English as “drop dead”. It is sometimes used as a noun to refer to an annoying person that roughly means a “prick”. The phrase can also be used in daily life under a variety of situations to express annoyance, disgrace or other emotions.[9] Since the phrase does not involve any sexual organs or reference to sex, some argue that it should not be considered as profanity.[10] Nevertheless, “PK” is often used as a euphemism for the phrase.[11] The written form can be seen on graffiti in Hong Kong and other places in Guangdong, China.
          In Southeast Asia, the meaning of the phrase has evolved and it is no longer a profanity, and is usually taken to mean “epic fail”. The term is even used in a colloquial sense by Malaysian Malays, in which case it is usually rendered as “pokai”.

        • Hannahh says:

          let’s hope so!

        • Funn Lim says:

          It is not a curse word. Is Damn a curse word? Or Sh*t? Or even screw you?

          No it is not. It is an expression. Chinese has more colourful curse word so for me PK is not a curse word but an expression.

          Yes in Malaysia Pokai can mean dirt poor or “Oh sh*t I screw up big time”.

        • Jayne says:

          Funn,
          If not a curse word, then it can be classified as rough language. I’m not too well versed in Cantonese curse words aside from the basics.

        • Josie says:

          Damn, ppl must talk rather roughly in Malaysia if PK and sh!t are not considered curse word. I feel PK is about the same severity as calling someone a-hole. But I guess it can make it thru the tv censors so it’s probably more like calling someone an SOB.

          Anyway rule of thumb is if u don’t want a little kid repeating a word, it’s considered foul language.

        • Applelim says:

          I have always thought it as a curse word (I am a Malaysian and not a Cantonese)!! Sounds coarse and we are not allowed that word in our house at all.

        • Jen says:

          Haha.. Funn, pokai means broke in malay.

        • Jen says:

          Josie, we don’t really use ‘puk gai’ in Malaysia in that sense. It just carries a different meaning in the Malay Language.

          For a Malaysian, I thought that “puk gai” is a really rude phrase too because only HK triads will use it in HK movies… the commonly used phrases are like.. “zheng puk gai”…

          I would also think it’s considered really bad in Hong Kong, cos once I told my Hong Kong friend I was pokai.. and she got really shocked. Think we need a Hongkonger to clarify.

        • Kidd says:

          Ben has been to China before. I’ve seen him in a few Mainland series. He was Tie Shou in ‘Nie Shui Han’ (逆水寒), a adaptation if one of Wen Rui An’s wuxia novels. The series starred Julian Cheung and Wallace Chung.

          I didn’t know Ben is good friend with Kevin.

        • Kidd says:

          Pook Kai is mild compared to other more colorful words.

        • Josie says:

          Kidd:

          For educational purposes, please list some examples of more colorful words. :)

        • Kidd says:

          @ Josie

          Sorry, can’t do that. It’s not suitable for this site. Might have under 18 lurking around.

        • menuiq says:

          There are a lot of meaning for Pok Kai..
          Such as, broke, fall down, oh s*it, and etc. Depends on how you use it..
          it can be a curse word too..

        • anoninhk says:

          pook gai originated as a curse. to call someone a pk means you want him to trip up in the streets and hurt himself. the definition has laxed a bit since, and you can pretty much use it to replace “aiya!” now.

        • Funn Lim says:

          If PK is considered rude for chinese standard, then seriously the really rude stuff must be OTT rude. PK is not rude. It is mere expression. It simply means harm to the other. Those asking your mother’s wellbeing is seriously rude and coarse.

        • skinnymocha says:

          PK is rude. (Probably the equivalent of sh**, but certainly not at the level of c**t.) We just use it so liberally these days that perhaps we’ve become a little desensitised.

        • skinnymocha says:

          I personally find it amusing when I hear people curse in Cantonese; there’s so much more punch to it than some other languages. I hear Russian is good too, but I wouldn’t know…

        • Bridget says:

          I think it depends on how you use PK. Calling someone PK (a.k.a. a noun) is like calling someone an a–hole, which depending on what your tolerance could be a curse word or just a very rude word. However using the expression as a verb (“P your K”) is akin to using the F word in English as the verb.

          Either way the words were never allowed (and still aren’t) in my house, so to me they are both curse words.

          Btw my family is from HK. Interesting that the word carries less ‘curse’ in Malay.

        • sure-lee says:

          I have always considered PK as a curse word…

        • Ric says:

          Definitely a curse word. Try saying that to a parent and you’re just asking to be smacked.

      • Nicole says:

        When people write PK, sometimes it’s hard to determine what it means. PK can also mean “player killing”, like how it’s usually used online.

        So unless you spell it out as Pok kai, i’ll take it as PK = player killing.

        • Jayne says:

          Nicole,
          But this is HK entertainment site…so Pook Kai never crossed your mind?

        • Josie says:

          I thought all ppl who spoke Cantonese knew PK stands for pook Kai. Like don’t all Americans know what SOB stands for?
          Anyway maybe need to say “PK loh” to be more clear.

        • Nicole says:

          But PK is usually used as “player kill”. Even in HK. when you watch those HK variety shows, they will have something like “Ultimate PK challenge”, it doesn’t mean Ultimate Pook Kai challenge does it?

        • Josie says:

          If it’s any extension of the super trio show, it probably does mean that. :)

          The first time I heard about player killer was f/ watching FH2 when they were playing cards. So I only think of PK as pook Kai, whether used a noun or verb.

        • Nicole says:

          josie need to play more online games :P

          Unlike you, I won’t think of it as “pook kai”, as everyone I know who speaks cantonese, doesn’t curse in cantonese. If they curse, it will be more like “F*** u” rather than “PK”. And most friends do play some online games of some kind, even if it’s just “Scramble with Friends”, it will be “hey let’s pk”. The only times I heard it used as “pook kai” will be those HK gangster/street/wong jing/stephen chow/raymond wong movies? But they seem to say out “pook gai” more than PK.

        • Woot says:

          I am sure majority will take PK as Pook Gai rather than player killing. And it’s only common sense to see what PK is referenced to here, so it has nothing to do with playing more online games or knowing the term player killing.

        • lychii04 says:

          lol I don’t even speak canto but knew pk = pok kai from the titles context.Why would he call himself a player killing?

      • Amy says:

        Pokai I believe is not a Malay word is more like adapted and borrowed into the Malay language through spelling. Likewise, tou jia= towkay= taukey
        Meaning wise,just as or not rude as the original PK.

      • Grace says:

        I like Ben Wong’s acting. He to me is even better than Kevin Chen’s acting and deserves the Best Actor Award! Hope TVB cast him in better roles, the good ones. He has great screen presence!

    2. Jayne says:

      My heart goes out to Ben Wong’s struggles in life. He and his siblings’ childhood was taken away by his irresponsible father, who burdened the family with financial debt for decades.

      Forced to grow up before his time, you can see that Ben’s outlook in life is quite negative. He still believes life is full of suffering, as he has known only the harsh side of life in his youth.

      A happy childhood for a child is one of the most precious gifts a parent can give, otherwise that negativity lingers for life.

    3. Jayne says:

      I didn’t like Ben Wong’s acting when he played “Ah Hoi” in “A Kindred Spirit,” mainly because his character was one-dimensional and too trusting, too good to be real.

      He has grown on me over the years as an actor and emotes well onscreen. I find him to be quite handsome as well. He deserves greater fame!

      • Powerz says:

        I love Ben! Oddly, I liked his role in in Maiden’s Vow the most. I guess that was the most memorable because I got to see his range in acting as a good guy and bad guy.

        The reason why his acting is considered not that good is because he doesn’t have much facial expression when acting. Still, I love watching him on TV.

        BTW, PK is a curse word! It is definitely not something you should say in public. Well, I would avoid it.

      • Hannah says:

        Ah Hoi was ok in the beginning. I couldn’t tolerate him as the series progresses. He becomes this unreasonable and jealous man. Also, he cheated on Angie towards the end. Not really the “ideal” package, IMO. But, he had chemistry with Angie.

        • Jayne says:

          Hannah,
          I gave up on “A Kindred Spirit” before Ah Hoi gave in to temptation and cheated. “A Kindred Spirit” was too melodramatic for me; it likely influenced “Heart of Greed” and “Moonlight Resonance” which I avoided as well.

          Not too fond of bickering family and palace dramas. Too many forced slapping scenes and unnecessary tears.

        • Hannah says:

          I like Kindred Spirit…to an extent, lol There were many draggy parts, and I didn’t really get into the series until half way. There were many couples featured, so you have different stories going on. I feel like it had a better approach at showing how united a family should be. There seems to be some life lesson behind each story.

          HOG was nowhere compared to Kindred. It was OTT. And, let’s not start on MR.

    4. subtleness says:

      how immature to attack him as he was just acting

      it is more understanding if fans attack the character instead

      • EEEp says:

        I concur. I never understand why fans do that.

      • Erica says:

        We are talking about ‘uneducated’ fans who are crazy here. I says LF should have put on his Weibo to not do that to another member who is filming with him.

        • Kidd says:

          Raymond doesn’t have a weibo account.

        • Fox says:

          LF dun play weibo and it seems to be a smart move he had.

          Everyone has fans like this but the amount of annoying fans are different. Everytime there are fans who spam weibo of an artist to bash, even for more unreasonable reasons but normally, ppl try to avoid it and let them say watever.

      • Kidd says:

        There have always been some audience who are too serious in their TV viewing. Sammul got scolded too for ‘killing’ Laughing Gor in E.U.

    5. Hannahh says:

      Those fans of Raymond n Kate on weibo should not bashes Ben like that. They’re so immature and rude.

      I always like Ben, he always performance is always really good.

      Agree with Jayne, hope Kevin invite Ben to be in his production

      • ALovesFung says:

        It is never okay for fans to bash someone else’s idol. Let’s stay positive, if one has nothing NICE (LF’s favorite saying) to say, then please remain silent! To each his own.

    6. Roxy says:

      Is he married? He plays villain roles very well that it makes me hate him haha but he looks good for his age.

      • Jayne says:

        Roxy,
        Ben married his long-time girlfriend, whom he had dated for 10 years. The couple does not have any children.

        Here is an older Ben Wong interview, written right before he won the Best Supporting Actor last year:

        “Ben Wong on Poverty and Repaying His Father’s Lifetime Gambling Debts”

        http://www.jaynestars.com/news/ben-wong-on-poverty-and-repaying-fathers-lifetime-gambling-debts/

        Reading the interview made me wish to give him a hug!

      • Applelim says:

        I have always been a fan of him. He has done supporting roles and done them well. I think he is very versatile, playing good and evil roles. Funny he never got any big leading parts after all the years workinjg in TVB. Certainly admire him after reading the article about his childhood.

    7. Hannah says:

      Ahh…the extent netizens can go. Attacking artists online is the “it” thing now.

      TVB should give Ben different roles to challenge his acting. Not necessarily lead roles like he said. All he needs is TVB’s approval to dig gold in China.

    8. aptos says:

      Many fans are too wrapped up into the series that they are watching. They lose sense of reality versus fiction and view the artist as that character and love them to death or hate them with a passion. Many artists like Ben Wong portray their roles so elegantly, intently, or realistically that fans actually “fanatics” view those roles as real beings hating or loving them to extremes…

    9. sushiroll says:

      i just wished he played more “good” roles…..cause TVB is just using him as the token bad supporting guy……

    10. Nicole says:

      LOL, Poor Ben Wong. Too many cult members around nowadays.

    11. AC says:

      I like Ben. He’s very handsome and I consider him to be one of the stronger supporting actors along with Evergreen Mak, Pierre Ngo, and Derek Kwok.

      • Hannah says:

        Speaking of which, Derek is long overdue for an award. I wish TVB would cherish their green-leaf actors/veterans more.

        • Fox says:

          Derek had the best chance with WOL2 but unlucky him, Wayne won this year. Yup, Wayne is a good actor, no doubt but the year he won supporting award, he wasn’t really outstanding.

    12. Kidd says:

      Ben is to harsh on ‘Triumph Over Evil’. I recently watch this series. It’s an entertaining series and I like his character Lin Nin a lot.

    13. skinnymocha says:

      Meh. I was never a fan of Ah Hoi, but I did start liking him ever since that episodic series with Nancy Sit, Sheren Tang and Lawrence Ng. He’s definitely a solid actor with a bit of range. I hope TVB gives him more chances.

    14. Linnh says:

      I start to grow to Love this guy. He always makes me so angry in series that I’m near to punch My laptop haha…He is a really good actor.

    15. anoninhk says:

      bad guy roles can be breakout characters in a tvb series. that’s pretty much how gallen law and nick cheung got popular overnight, right? the problem is ben’s character isn’t bad enough, just annoying. still, it’s stupid that fans are scolding the actor on weibo, instead of the character. poor ben.

    16. exoidus says:

      I would love to see Ben as a lead, too bad TVB is promoting ppl that can’t act better than ppl on the street.

      Poor Ben getting attack by members of the snake-cult who can’t distinguish reality from acting :(

      If it was LF who was the rapist im sure his loyal fans will say “good rape”, “that’s so cute and sweet”, “he loves her” i.e it’s only possible to fight fanatics with other fanatics, ROFL

      • Fox says:

        No, i bet they will say “I want too see this scene asap” and “it’s interesting”.

        But interestingly, LF also has a fan attack from Ella fans, in Appledaily. So Ben can feels good because they can chat about the cult fans together

    17. irene says:

      I am not a cantonese. So the first word that came to my mind was ‘pia kia’.

      Too bad TVB isn’t interested in promoting him. His acting is really good.

    18. HI says:

      watch this hongkong artist dancing to gangdam style
      http://et.21cn.com/video/2012/10/12/13233783.shtml

    19. Grace says:

      I never like his “ah Hoi” character. These days the villian roles he played are just more interesting & fun to watch.

    20. Monica says:

      It’s just a drama, it’s just on TV, it’s not real. No need to be upset and yell at him. He’s just doing his job! Go Ben! :)

    21. happybi says:

      To me PK can be a both a bad word or rough language. Really depend on how it’s used. =)

    22. TVBFanatic says:

      lol!!! In North American gaming circles PK = Player Killer (someone who kills other gamer’s characters…)

      So with him holding the gun and the title of the story, I thought he was admitting that he likesto play player vs player games online!

    23. KBarrus says:

      I thought “pook kai ” means broke. No money. I didn’t know the two words carry a variety of meanings! My goodness. …!!!

    24. clamine says:

      When I read ‘PK’, I thought it was ‘player killer’ too because it appears so often in mainland forums and weibo. So I was thinking who is this person Ben is up against?

    25. Erica says:

      Keep your Heads up Ben. Ignore them, and you will do great! Some of those LF’s fan does not know the meaning of character vs reality.

      You’re not a PK. But you’re a LK (Lady killer) ^O^

      • Erica says:

        In addition, he is raping Kait’s so should Kait’s fan attack, why is LF’s fan attacking?? Ignorant, I tell you.

        • Fox says:

          Wats up? LF also gets attacks from Ella fans just for a scene as well. There are ppl who simply like to complain for nothing and there are ppl who like to call the chac by actor name.

          Ben is the first one who made it seems so big. I rmb Derek Kwok was bashed on weibo many days by Kenneth and TY fans during THC time for a stupid,reason that he had a kissing scene but the main couple dun have. They cursed him and told him to stop acting in this,series to give the main couple all the screentime, kiss or else. They called him stupid and cant think and asked him to go and request director to let the main couple kiss, not him. But i dont see him rant in his weibo.

        • clamine says:

          Dang! netizens cults are one scary bunch. Celebrities should just ignore them completely.

        • Larry 3 says:

          Those hard core fans have bi-polar disorder. Seek a local mental institution immediately.

    26. Joanne says:

      Ahh, spoilers from High and Lows…yikes :(

    27. smurf120 says:

      I remember the use of PK to be more severe and vulgar during the 90s. It tended to be the default slang curse in movies and sort of riskee for tv. The impact seems to have lessened over the years. The variation for f**k has gained favor recently.

      I see Ben’s acting to be very much improved. His explosive dark characters are evolution of Ah Hoi to me. As if bizarro world goody two shoes Ah Hoi had changed because being nice never worked out.

      Like getting dumped on by ex wife Charmaine in When Heaven Burns. Good cop no payout in LOO so becamebad cop. All older jaded versions of Ah Hoi.

    28. Larry 3 says:

      English spelling… Pork Guy

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