Friday, February 26, 2010
In Praise of Lam Suet
Let's take a moment to praise the long-suffering Lam Suet. Round of body, square of head, Lam has has been reliably typecast as the fat guy in some 116 movies since 1982. If someone is going to take a bullet in the butt, or have to be dragged away from a bowl of noodles, it's Lam. Among the names his characters have been given over the years are: Piggy King, Fatty, Fat Lok, Fat Lo, Fat Ball, Big Mouth, Fat Tong, Fat Bo, Big Head (twice), Fat Seven, Fatty (at least twice), Bun Man, and, early in his career, Pudgy Triad Member.
Lam takes his lumps with good cheer. Even as the lead actor in Johnnie To's PTU he plays a bungling cop who spends the movie in an escalating series of humiliations as he goes in search of the gun he lost. So let's give him is due. He may not be as handsome or suave as Simon Lam or Anthony Wong, but he makes them even suaver by how he plays off them in movie after movie. His good-natured self-deprecation always adds something to the movies he's in, and his cheery round face is a much an icon of Hong Kong cinema as the chiseled countenances of the matinee idols he works with.
Lam Suet (if I may) knows where his bread is buttered.