TVB Actors Who Have Filmed Category III Movies

1995 television drama Detective Investigation Files II <刑事偵緝檔案II> is rerunning on TVB’s midnight time slot, and it’s become a perfect excuse for viewers to stay up late. The star-studded detective show, produced by Poon Ka-tak (潘嘉德), stars Michael Tao (陶大宇), Kenix Kwok (郭可盈), Amy Kwok (郭藹明), Joey Leung (梁榮忠), Louisa So (蘇玉華), So Hang-suen (蘇杏璇), Evergreen Mak (麥長青), and Sammi Cheng (鄭秀文).

The rebroadcast of DIF II is bringing the actors back into trending online discussions, and many netizens have started to dig up about their past. In a recent post, netizens found that a handful of actors on the show had to make a living from doing Category III films before finding fame with TVB, showcasing the competitive atmosphere back in 1990’s Hong Kong entertainment.

Michael Tao — Aiya, Girlfriend <哎吔女朋友>, A Woman & A Man <93女愛男歡>, Street Angels <紅燈區>

Before shooting to popularity with his starring role in DIF, Michael only made about HK$6,000 to HK$7,000 a month at TVB. In 1992, a film production studio hired Michael for HK$80,000 to do a movie, and it was only until after signing the contract and starting the film when Michael realized that he was doing a Category III film. The movie Aiya, Girlfriend is Michael’s first Category III film. In the movie, he and actress Chan Wing-chi (陳穎芝) had a bold sex scene.

Michael and Wing-chi collaborated again for the 1993 film A Woman & A Man, also a Category III film. His last Category III film was Street Angels in 1996, after his DIF success. Though the film still had its sexual themes, it was regarded as a spin-off of the successful Young and Dangerous <古惑仔> film series.

Pal Sinn — Erotic Ghost Story <聊齋艷譚>, The Forbidden Legend <新金瓶梅>

In DIF II, Pal Sinn (單立文) played the main suspect in a serial killer case but was later proven to be innocent. Today, Pal is known for his comedic timing and musical talent, but those who grew up watching his movies in the 80’s and 90’s remembered him from starring in the successful Category III films Erotic Ghost Story and The Forbidden Legend. He has played Ximen Qing in numerous adaptations of Jin Ping Mei <金瓶梅>, becoming a prominent actor in the Category III industry.

Evergreen Mak — Evil Instinct <極度獸性>

Evergreen Mak played a professional coroner in DIF II, which kickstarted his fame. The former TVB actor, who made his debut as the children’s program host, shocked the industry when he decided to do the Category III film Evil Instinct in 1996. It turns out that Evergreen only received HK$9,000 a month at TVB, and he was HK$40,000 in debt. In addition to his father’s surgery, Evergreen decided to pick up a random movie to earn fast money. He didn’t know the movie would be an erotic film and was only notified last minute that he had to do a sex scene with an actress.

Dickson Lee — The Rapist <屯門色魔>

Dickson Lee (李家聲), who portrays one of the main suspects in DIF II’s 7th case, was the lead character in the 1994 Category III film The Rapist, which was based on a true story. Though he played a rapist in the film, he was the movie’s lead character, and his spooky betrayal of the character earned him critical success.


This article is written by Addy for

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  1. Not sure if Dickson Lee should be considered “critical success” for that role? Praised or recognized, maybe. He was never successful… I’m not saying he can’t act. He never was/is promoted or recieved a break.

    The dudes in Cat III are almost always just bare chest. Not much for them to lose. Sure, it tainted their names to be associated with Cat III but meh they bounced back easily. Actresses seem to have a lot more repercussions though. Aj, double standard at its best.

    1. @jjwong In a way, the critical success thing is true in Dickson’s case, as that rapist role was more well-known than all of his roles at TVB combined. There was quite a bit of buzz back then over Dickson’s portrayal (mostly because it was so convincing) and many later audiences (those who may not have seen him in TVB series from the late 80s/early 90s when he actually had more significant and better developed roles) only knew him by that role. TVB also started typecasting him in those types of roles after that. I remember Dickson saying in an interview a few years back that nowadays whenever someone has a breakthrough role as a rapist, the media always calls him up to ask his reaction (yup, that’s the silly HK media for you).

      1. @llwy12 Hrm. So at one point, I remember seeing him in lots of that type of role. His subsequent roles were not a “breakthrough” again so I guess I don’t see him as critically success. He stayed kelele 🙁 I know what you mean though. Typical TVB and HK media. Sillies.

  2. Cat 3 actors never expose all their ‘goods’, but actresses are always expected or forced to bare all.

  3. I think that really speaks to how bad a living for an artist back in those days where they had to make extra income from Cat 3 films.

    To me, making cat 3 films is just another job for them. It doesn’t make them more cheap or less professional. In fact, many ex-Cat III artistes have great acting. But what bothers me is that how many artists were duped into starring in cat 3 films without being warned beforehand: David Siu, Lawrence Ng, Leslie Cheung, Moses Chan, etc.. It highlights how the underbelly of the industry preys on the unfamous artistes.

  4. When I was a kid, I always thought “Category III” films were considered HK pornography. Now that I’m an adult, and looking back, they’re actually tame and no more exposing than a regular R rated film here in the West. Guess Asian culture is still pretty conservative when it comes to these things, but I pretty much think Cat III films aren’t that big a deal.

    Of course, if you ask my parents though, they still think make such a big deal of it if someone’s ever been in one.

  5. DIF was such a good serie wish that TVB was able to give us a proper ending to DIF4 or potential sequel/reboot.

    Its kind of weird people dig into the past of these actors. Everyone who started this career had it rough they just needed a pay to feed and to live.

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