Hong Kong actor Ng Man-tat of ‘Shaolin Soccer’ fame has died

"He was my best friend for many years. I still can't accept this," his close collaborator Stephen Chow has said

Ng Man-tat, the famed Hong Kong actor known for his comedic collaborations with Stephen Chow, has passed away.

The actor died on Saturday (February 27) following a battle with liver cancer at the age of 70, Deadline reports. The acting veteran and comedy icon was reportedly admitted to a hospital on February 20, where he underwent surgery.

“He left us peacefully. Doctors had been prescribing medications to make his [sic] feel better, he passed away in his sleep,” Ng’s longtime friend Tenky Tin Kai-man told The Standard.

Ng started his career in 1973, at the age of 22. In 1991, he was awarded Hong Kong Film Award’s Best Supporting Actor for his role in A Moment Of Romance. Over the course of his career, he became known for his collaborations with actor and filmmaker Stephen Chow.

The two had acted in multiple films together in the ’90s, including Sixty Million Dollar Man, The God Of Cookery and King Of Comedy, in which Ng often played a mentor of Chow’s. However, Ng was perhaps best known for his role in 2001’s Shaolin Soccer, in which he played a washed-up football veteran who had to unite an unlikely group of players to bring their team, Team Shaolin, to victory.

In 2004, Ng and Chow reportedly had a falling out when the latter took the lead role in Kung Fu Hustle. Although Ng denied the rumors, he told Mingpao in 2019 that they just drifted apart. He also said he would still work with him if given the chance. Chow also invited Ng to be part of his 2016 comedy-fantasy film The Mermaid, but Ng declined due to his poor health.

“His illness came so quickly, and he was gone too early. He was my best friend for many years. I still can’t accept this,” Chow said of Ng’s passing, per a Yahoo News report.

Several of Ng’s former co-stars including Alex To, Kingdom Yuen and Andy Lau have expressed their grief over the news. To, who worked with Ng in the 2004 period drama Young People of Border Town, wrote a heartfelt Facebook post about their time on set.

“In this drama, Tat Gor and I had the most scenes together. Regardless of whether you can see Man-tat on screen, he was always there to deliver his lines opposite me,” To wrote, per Today Online. “He was like family.”

永遠懷念吳孟達,達哥。達哥是我最敬重的一位前輩演員,有幸和他在2004年合作一部古裝電視劇《邊城小子》,戲內我們演一對驛城的小品芝麻官,雖然和他相處只兩個多月,但卻在我心中留下了無數點滴,他除了教會我什麼才是一個稱職的演員外,更讓我看到…

Posted by 杜德偉 Alex To on Saturday, February 27, 2021

Yuen, who also starred with Chow and Ng in various comedy films, told Mingpao (per Yahoo! Style), “This is a big loss to the entertainment industry. A big loss to the younger generation, and a big loss to friends. He was always willing to help the younger actors and teach them.”

“Brother Tat is gone. There is no more illness, and he is free now, so have a safe journey,” said Lau, who had starred in A Moment of Romance with Ng.

Director Edgar Wright also paid tribute to the late actor on Twitter. “RIP to legendary Hong Kong actor Ng Man-tat, who among his many credits is just sublime as former football legend, ‘Golden Leg’ Fung, in the deliriously entertaining Shaolin Soccer 2001. If you’ve never seen this movie, do. It’s so joyously funny,” he wrote.

Ng’s last film was the martial arts comedy The Legend Of Shaolin Temple, which premiered in China on February 12, 2021.

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