Born in 1972, Chapman To (or Du Wenze in Mandarin) began his acting career in Hong Kong after getting minor roles on TV. He finally moved to the big screen in 2000 playing a mentally unhinged henchman in the first two instalments of the Infernal Affairs movie trilogy.
Why is he in the news?
To is known mostly for his raunchy comedies, appearing in a string of movies like Vulgaria (2012) and SDU: Sex Duties Unit (2013). In his latest film 3D Naked Ambition he plays a writer of erotic fiction living in the shadow of his domineering girlfriend. But the actor has made bigger headlines by incurring the wrath of Chinese netizens for voicing his support for Taiwanese students that demonstrated in March against the passage of a trade pact between Beijing and Taipei (see WiC231).
To has refused to be cowed by the online vitriol. “Sometimes, when faced with the opinionated comments of mainland netizens, we don’t have to put too much thought into it. They are not that capable. They just happen to have enough money to go to internet cafés,” the actor fired back.
His remarks led those same ‘not-very-capable’ folk to demand that To be denied the chance to make a living on the mainland. But To wouldn’t back down: “Stop telling me to not visit mainland China. I say to you: ‘Stop me from coming to the Chinese mainland if you can.’”
So netizens then attempted to do just that, creating a “Block Chapman To From Entering The Mainland” page on Sina Weibo. Others demanded that his films be banned in the country too.
And while netizens probably won’t be able to block To from crossing the border, his latest movies have fared very poorly at the mainland box office. Let Go For Love, a romantic comedy, made a paltry Rmb450,000 ($72,128) nationwide. Aberdeen, in which he makes a cameo appearance, made Rmb50 million. But China Youth Daily reports that producers went out of their way to downplay To’s role and that Aberdeen was still likely to lose money by association.
“This is actually unfair to the film because To is only in about two scenes. The boycott is so severe,” an insider complained.
Another cinema operator told the newspaper that To is now regarded as “box office arsenic” across the industry. The number of cinemas showing films in which To features is being scaled back as a result, he said.
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