The Art of Being Lee Sir

Facebook has a lot of great Hong Kong cinema fan pages dedicated to just one actor or actress.  A page I enjoy visiting is the Danny Lee Sau Yin page run by my good friend Steve Hardy.  His photo albums are fun and fans sometimes contribute images like this 1976 “Southern Screen” magazine shot of schmexy young Lee Sir with female companion.

Danny Lee Sau Yin Southern Screen 1976
Like a motherfcuking boss.
Image courtesy of Brian Bankston.

Awesome, right?

As you might deduce from his open shirt and big ass gold chain, Danny Lee has something of a playboy reputation.  I don’t know much about his personal life and I don’t want to know so please don’t tell me.

I like to think of him as Hong Kong’s William Shatner;  that is dumb, indulgent, mediocre, disingenuous, lazy, and charming.  There is much to love about this actor.

‘He is My Enemy Partner and Father-in-Law’ (1991)
Image courtesy of Steve Hardy.

As a youth he was apparently unable to pass the HK Police Department’s entrance exam so he became a heart throb actor at Shaw Studios instead.  He is best known in the west for starring in cult classics like Super Inframan and Mighty Peking Man.

‘Mighty Peking Man’ (1977)
Image courtesy of Steve Hardy.

After Shaw Brothers folded, Lee began directing, producing and starring in his own cops-n’-robbers stories (e.g. the outstanding 公僕 / Law With Two Phases in 1986).  Within ten years Lee became the king of police procedural movies.  And he became known as Lee Sir, a term that reflects how one addresses a superior in the Hong Kong Police force.  His  “Magnum Production” company churned out countless uber violent, procedurally correct cop flicks.  Lee’s roles in these, and in many other movies, has made him a legendary crime genre actor.

His very small role as a boorish, frustrated cop in Johnny Mak’s 江湖情 / Rich and Famous (1987) is outstanding.

Chow Yun Fat - Danny Lee Sau Yin - Rich and Famous - 1987

With almost no onscreen time, he is completely memorable.  He is also epic in a quiet, earnest sort of way, alongside Chow in John Woo’s  喋血双雄 / The Killer (1989).

Chow Yun Fat - Danny Lee Sau Yin - The Killer

It’s pretty hard to compete with Chow Yun Fat but Lee manages it nicely.

In 1993 Lee produced the infamous film 八仙飯店之人肉叉燒包 / Human Meat Buns of the Eight Immortals Restaurant  aka The Untold Story.  In it he fashioned for himself a very small role that immortalized his reputation as a ladies man.  He plays the in-charge of a case against a deranged serial killer (the magnificent Anthony Wong Chau Sang), and appears in only a couple lackadaisical onscreen minutes.  Every time Lee’s character appears, he is with a different babe and does not ever want to be at work because he wants to get back to having sex as soon as possible.  It’s a simple yet fantastic gag. The timing and reactions of the actors around him are fantastic.  Other great stuff about Untold Story aside, it is a must-see for Danny Lee’s character alone.

I always think of Lee Sir’s Untold Story character as a playboy with dozens of babes. But reputations are always larger than life; Lee’s onscreen women are, in fact, finite.

INCREDIBLE TRUE FACT: the detective whose job just gets in the way of his rampant sex life, appears in Untold Story with just four babes .

Here they are in chronological order:

Untold Story 1993 Danny Lee Sau Yin 1
Lee Sir’s grand entrance at the first murder scene.
He stays for a minute or two.
Untold Story 1993 Danny Lee Sau Yin 2
Lee Sir drops by the office to maybe do his job.
Look at that face. Don’t tell me he doesn’t love being a movie producer right now.
Untold Story 1993 Danny Lee Sau Yin 3
Lee briefly visits the office again to delegate his responsibilities.
Untold Story 1993 Danny Lee Sau Yin 4
Lee Sir stops by to tell people they’re doing it wrong.


And there you have it:  The Four Babes of Lee Sir.

Honestly, I wrote this whole article just so I could post these screencaps.  It feels great to know that The Babes of Lee Sir have been carefully counted for posterity.

If you want to see more of the delightful Danny Lee Sau Yin, check out his fanpage on Facebook.



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