Egg Shen has joined his honorable ancestors... Victor Wong has died...
Ouch... Harry here with the death of one of my favorite character actors around... VICTOR WONG.
In 1986, as if delivered from the Heavens to a 14 year old Harry Knowles was the wisdom of Egg Shen in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA... I remember that summer well, it had been hot here in Austin. Blisteringly so. I had just come off a run of watching FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF for about the 12th time and Dad was worried that it was worming its way into my brain... possibly inspiring me to skip school constantly... and as we had no air-conditioning at the time, we needed a film every day during the nuclear hours of 3pm to 5pm. We coupled this with an undying love for film... Ah... movies were our savior.
At 14, I was living with my Mother in North Texas far from the worlds of comic shops and magazine stands that would carry STARLOG and FANGORIA, so I had read nothing about this... BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. So when I went on visitation with my father that summer with 4 year old Sister Satan in tow... We had not seen trailers... Nothing. We had been seeing everything at the ACT III Lincoln Theater... A sparkling wundertheatre of the day... and had stopped attending the old standards of the bygone years of my youth (hey I was 14, I thought I had a youth) so to escape Bueller, my father drove us to the CAPITAL PLAZA... the theater next to TOYS R US, and the WALGREENS where I stocked up on Movie Themed Gum Cards (they had gum then) and we walked up the stairs to see the posters for the films they were showing.
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA... hmph, I thought... I saw the poster, ran over to it... "OOOOOH!! EW EW EW EW, JOHN CARPENTER!!! YES YES YES!!!" And I was suddenly jazzed to see the film.
You all know how this film starts... but I didn't then. I sat there watching this seemingly old weak Asian fellow being questioned by this 'suit' and I thought... "What the hell is this?" There was talk of magic, and scoffing at the idea of it, then a Missouri Mule Moment... and then this man I've been told was named Egg Shen held his hands out... cocked an eyebrow and:
My eyes grew wide... I was, a believer, a 100% honest to goodness believer. Eggshen was some sort of God, I knew that much. That crazy wild eyed look, the cherubic smile... those classic lines folding like leather across that amazing face... This was someone that had it going on!
When next I saw him, he was giving us the audience... the theatrical tourists at this establishment a tour and history of his beautiful Chinatown. Be sure to click his mike!
Again absolutely captivating. I wasn't exactly sure where he fit in to this story yet, but dude... He can shoot lightning from his hands... He is the bomb! The film takes us into this amazing world beneath the upper layer of Chinatown... where we meet the storms, learn of David Lo Pan and that indeed Chinese Black Magic is real. But Egg Shen is taking a backseat to the action... an advisory position... Spouting off amazing bits about Goat butts against the edge and black blood of the Earth and that brilliant taoist salad bar thing of his... Just classic stuff. In a film of over the top performances, Victor Wong's EGG SHEN was stealing it for me...
At the end of it all... I was in awe of the film, that universe and in particular... EGG SHEN. Who is this person? Where did he come from? Can I visit again?
Very Quickly he appeared next in THE LAST EMPEROR, I didn't know that in advance, but when I saw the little emperor find him and his little cricket/grasshopper/thing in the box... I knew that would be special... And then at the end... I knew... Egg Shen was here as well...
Then that same year he showed up in John Carpenter's PRINCE OF DARKNESS... one of John's grossly underestimated creepy ass films. I love this film, but all the more for Victor Wong's Professor Edward Birack, a quantum physics teacher. A perfect choice in having science embracing the world of the magic... as merely.... Well, Victor does it so much better than me!
Professor Edward Birack
Let's talk about our beliefs, and
what we can learn about them. We
believe nature is solid, and time a
constant. Matter has substance and
time a direction. There is truth in flesh
and the solid ground. The wind may
be invisible, but it's real. Smoke, fire,
water, light -- they're different! Not as
to stone or steel, but they're tangible.
And we assume time is narrow because
it is as a clock -- one second is one
second for everyone! Cause precedes
effect -- fruit rots, water flows downstream.
We're born, we age, we die. The reverse
NEVER happens. ...None of this is true!
Say goodbye to classical reality, because
our logic collapses on the subatomic level
... into ghosts and shadows.
Professor Edward Birack
From Job's friends insisting that the good are
rewarded and the wicked punished, to the
scientists of the 1930's proving to their horror
the theorem that not everything can be proved,
we've sought to impose order on the universe.
But we've discovered something very surprising:
while order DOES exist in the universe, it is
not at all what we had in mind!
That year of 1986 through 1987 was magic for Victor Wong and me because of him. Those where the years where I bridged from Junior High School into my Freshman/Sophmore years of High School and Egg Shen was there to introduce to new friends in North Texas.
As I sit here at the computer all I can think of as I look up and through my ceiling at the stars beyond is, "How'd you get up there?" and having Victor say...
Victor will be missed. For more images and quotes from Victor in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, check out WingKong, it is the best BTILC site I can find, and has wonderful images and wavs of Victor...
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Sept. 17, 2001, 11:23 p.m. CST
by vroom socko
Sept. 17, 2001, 11:41 p.m. CST
This is very sad news. Let's not forget his role as Grandpa in 3 Ninjas, or even as the crazy monk in Golden Child. R.I.P. Victor Wong
Sept. 18, 2001, midnight CST
Dang it. One of the great character actors of the last 50 years. Harry you're right, "Prince of Darkness" is one of Carpenter's best, and Victor was fantastic. You are loved Victor.----later----m
Sept. 18, 2001, midnight CST
First thought in my head after watching BTILC - Egg Shen made Yoda look like a senile old man!! RIP Victor, you'll be missed.
Sept. 18, 2001, 12:14 a.m. CST
by otis von zipper
One of my very favorite moments in Big trouble is when Egg rescues the gang from the sewer, Jack asks "How did you get up here?" and Egg simply replies "Wasn't easy". For some reason that always cracks me up.
Sept. 18, 2001, 12:24 a.m. CST
...when the bus goes out of control? Let's have a .wav of that one, Harry. That always made me piss myself. Victor Wong, along with Al Leong (credited as "Wing Kong Hatchet Man" in Big Trouble, LOL!)and the great James Hong are some of my favorite asian actors. Enjoy your everlasting reward, Mr. Wong!
Sept. 18, 2001, 12:42 a.m. CST
Dammit NO!! WHY!? He was the fucking trainer of Rocky, Colt, and Tum-Tum!! He was his generation's Bruce Lee!! RIP sir.
Sept. 18, 2001, 12:55 a.m. CST
...the tragic loss of one of my cinematic spiritual heroes, and applauds Harry for a superb tribute. Egg Shen is a truly transcendental character, and his Chen Pao Shen in "The Last Emperor" was equally memorable. In every movie he appeared - like "The Joy Luck Club" and "Seven Years In Tibet" - he was always a joy to see. For years, I've dreamed of someday getting a chance to see him paired on screen with Mako, perhaps as epic adversaries. Sadly, that and many other delights we will not ever be graced with. Still, I am thankful for the unmistakable sparkle Victor Wong brought into my filmgoing life. He will be missed, and I'll keep trying to learn how to shoot lightning out of my fingers.
Sept. 18, 2001, 1:08 a.m. CST
This is weaaaaaaaak. Egg Shen was the badass twisted Chinese Obi Wan Kenobi, man.
Sept. 18, 2001, 1:22 a.m. CST
by Cash Bailey
I would love to hear his recollections of two of the greatest movies ever, BTiLC and TREMORS. Let's just hope Quint can get James Hong before he's taken from us. R.I.P. Victor Wong, you were an original. "They take what they want, and leave the rest. Just like your salad bar." I'm gonna watch BTiLC tonight in tribute to the great man.
Sept. 18, 2001, 2:06 a.m. CST
He put his all into the film work he did, from BTILC to episodic work on BEAUTY & THE BEAST to the 3 NINJAS series of films. He never complained. If he did, he did it quietly, internally. He will be missed. I have a seat waiting for him in Hall of the Jad Emperor in Heaven. He will be well tended after.
Sept. 18, 2001, 2:37 a.m. CST
by Jon L. Ander
No end to the bad news is there? I'm going to watch Big Trouble in Little China as soon as i get home, in memorium. Anyone know where i can pick up a six demon bag?
Sept. 18, 2001, 3:49 a.m. CST
Egg Shen will live forever. The Gods have taken you for a reason, no doubt Lo Pan needs a good ass-kicking again. One of the best actors Hollywood had.
Sept. 18, 2001, 4:45 a.m. CST
I didn't want to see this news. saw the last emperor just days ago...lovely eulogy Harry..... sigh.
Sept. 18, 2001, 5:04 a.m. CST
Victor Wong live on in my heart and video collection. Now go kick David Lo Pan's ass in the afterlife. ZB
Sept. 18, 2001, 5:39 a.m. CST
Just saw it for the first time two nights ago, and like many other movies that Harry has a devotion to, I don't see the appeal. It wasn't a terrible way to pass the time, but it wasn't very good. The Last Emperor, however, is a great movie.
Sept. 18, 2001, 5:41 a.m. CST
Ah yes - how wonderful it was to see Egg Shen showing Jack Burton how to fight against the evil David Lo Pan. And how sad it was to see him eaten up by those awful worms in Tremors. Victor was always watchable, no matter how small his part. Rest in peace, Mr. Wong. You've earned it.
Sept. 18, 2001, 6:36 a.m. CST
by the son of John
I cant belive this. I would just have to say Much thanks To you Mr wong. You openend my mind beyond Star wars and showed me what is cool about action movies The Son of John AKA Ben
Sept. 18, 2001, 7:03 a.m. CST
sigh...one of the great character actors around. Sorry to see him go. Tonight, after I get off work, I'll pop a beer and throw in my tape of Big Trouble in Little China.
Sept. 18, 2001, 7:23 a.m. CST
Besides being a really fabulous character actor, did you know he was involved with the civil rights movement? He was also pretty good friends with Jack Kerouac. There's a really good documentary about the Asian population in America(I forget the title, somebody help me out) Victor Wong had a very large segment, he's a really fascinating guy actually, lived a very rich and interesting life. If you like his movies, check it out!
Sept. 18, 2001, 7:34 a.m. CST
Every time I carry an umbrella when it rains I always remember Egg's advice: "A wise man knows when to get outta the rain". Plus have you ever seen a man so effectively use a can of Coke and chopsticks as weapons. He'll definitely be missed.
Sept. 18, 2001, 7:37 a.m. CST
There are some people that will get me to watch any old rotten movie just because they happen to be in it. My list includes, among others, and in no particular order, Arnold Schwartzenegger, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Bruce Campbell, and Jim Garner. I'm sure you have your very own list. Victor Wong was one of the guys on my list. Thank God that these people's work will be with us forever in all their great movies.
Sept. 18, 2001, 8:03 a.m. CST
So long, Victor .. you'll be missed. Hey, isn't there any good news this week, re: anything at all? ******** btw, just to let everyone know I'm ok, still in Berlin at the moment * which is a much more surreal place to be than N. America at the moment, esp. if your German language skill is rusty, and mine sure is .. news coverage of the tragedy here is also as horribly surreal). ***** Keep safe everybody. I'm techinically an agnostic but God bless, anyway .. seems like the right time to be saying that! - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sept. 18, 2001, 8:46 a.m. CST
To me, Victor Wong was kind of like an Asian Dick Miller. A great character actor indeed. ESPECIALLY in cult hits. He will be missed.
Sept. 18, 2001, 8:53 a.m. CST
by mad maximus
Apparently he was with some family members that were coming from the parade. He noticed that I recognised him and that I did not say anything since he was with some family members. He gave me a nod and a polite smile and got off at his stop. Damn!
Sept. 18, 2001, 8:56 a.m. CST
by mad maximus
Sept. 18, 2001, 8:56 a.m. CST
by All Thumbs
Sapien mentioned earlier about Wong being interviewed in this great documentary about what it means to be Asian in America. I've seen it a couple of time and more recently in an Asian Amercian Lit class I'm taking. We were shown mostly the interview with Wong and I have to say that he was one of the coolest guys on the planet. If you haven't seen this and you're a fan of Wong, definitely check it out. And thanks to whoever mentioned his role "The Joy Luck Club". I crack up every time I see him in that movie. I have to ask you all: is it just me or is it sadder sometimes when we lose character actors we love to look for in films? I always got joy out of spotting Wong in the movies (Yes, even "3 Ninjas"), and I still will.
Sept. 18, 2001, 9:01 a.m. CST
I just picked up Big Trouble in Little China last week, and while I was kind of disappointment to see that it didn't quite live up the the standard I had set for it in my youth, two things made it for me. Kurt Russell's faux cool performance, and Victor Wong's "wasn't easy!".
Sept. 18, 2001, 9:07 a.m. CST
Alora: Just to be clear it wasnt yodeling on the bus Victor was speaking Cantonese a dialect of Chinese Im watching the DVD as we speak and he's taking a bus load of tourists on a tour. When Jack comes at him head on with his truck he starts speaking Cantonese a dialect of chinese. What he says basicly, is "Hey what are you doing?? " Then Veeres to avoid Jack cursing his name in the process saying "are you stupid or what then the movie goes on. Fare well Mr Wong may Quan Yin(Chinese godess of Mercy ) Guide you on your way =)
Sept. 18, 2001, 9:13 a.m. CST
Victor Wong passed away ; and God knows it makes me really sad, I really love the guy... but Egg Chen (and all the other characters he portrayed) still lives on... in our minds, in our hearts... and in our DVD's. Go Victor... Go in peace... and shake the pillars o' heaven for us... no horseshit. So long...
Sept. 18, 2001, 10:02 a.m. CST
Thanks AllThumbs! Rent this documentary! I liked Wong before I saw this documentary, but after seeing it, I can never look at him in a film quite the same way. It makes you wonder about so many other fine actors who have those small rolls in the films you love... Well, at least Charles Napier is still among the living...
Sept. 18, 2001, 10:14 a.m. CST
Every time Victor Wong's face popped up unexpectedly in a film, you just knew the film was about to get considerably better. He will be missed. Peace out, Victor.
Sept. 18, 2001, 10:49 a.m. CST
see ya Vic!
Sept. 18, 2001, 10:56 a.m. CST
I got baked out of my gourd and watched my new special-edition "Big Trouble in Little China" DVD last night. I paid special attention to Victor Wong's performance, reflecting on his great career as a character actor. How freaky is that?
Sept. 18, 2001, 11:10 a.m. CST
Just as I'm about to pull out of my deep blue funk from last week, I hear about something like this. Victor, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, words are fucking failing me. This bites.
Sept. 18, 2001, 11:11 a.m. CST
That's horrible. But what an impact. Egg stole scene after scene, and was just an absolute strange, and fascinating character. It's sad to see him leave this earth. Rest In Peace
Sept. 18, 2001, 12:03 p.m. CST
The character of Egg Shen is my first concrete memory of Mr. Wong. I saw Big Trouble on Showtime when I was just an upstart horror film goon. Let me tell you, aside from Lo Pan's main bodyguards, Egg Shen had me hollering with glee. Here in Sacramento, Wong was something of a fixture. You could catch him wandering around town from time to time, or see him smoking a cigarette, quietly squinting to himself somewhere. I wish I could have told him how much I loved his work, both for Carpenter and others. Oh well. He's dead, so he won't mind.
Sept. 18, 2001, 12:53 p.m. CST
Is one of my top ten of all time. His part was small, but has always stayed with me. I never expected him to pop up and start talking to the little Emperor. And when he did I took a breath as I expected him to be executed. But of course he was not, and that scene turned out to be a classic...for me at least. I was truly amazed when everyone started naming off the other films he has been in. I have seen far more of them than I would have remembered by myself. I suppose it is a testament to his acting skill that he blended in so well. Thanks for the name of the Documentary. I for one plan on checking it out. RIP.
Sept. 18, 2001, 1:35 p.m. CST
Sept. 18, 2001, 1:58 p.m. CST
a large part of movie magic nostalgia. he was in some of the greatest films in the eighties and the nineties. anytime he would appear, it was like a small golden nugget that brought me in deeper. a sense of connection just by recognition. very sad.
Sept. 18, 2001, 1:58 p.m. CST
Boy, what a bummer. My sympathies to his friends and family. Victor Wong will be sorely missed. I, like a lot of others on this talkback I'm sure, was captivated by this man as a child. I always felt he didn't get the props that he deserved from the mainstream hollywood. But we knew...I guess that's what's important. I think I'm gonna grab my nephew and watch a little bit of BTILC, and introduce him to the man I still think of as "Egg Shen". Good Luck Vic, you are gone but not forgotten!
Sept. 18, 2001, 2:03 p.m. CST
by All-ighty Ollar
ONe of teh greats. He will be missed a whole lot. EGG SHEN r00lz!!!
Sept. 18, 2001, 2:10 p.m. CST
yee shall be missed. You know I did appreciate The Prince of Darkness. It did effectively give me the creeps. However, since we have the SE DVD of Big Trouble - I'm gonna put it on and sit down and watch it. Bye bye, Victor. I'll be thinking of you..........
Sept. 18, 2001, 3:09 p.m. CST
We'll all miss you! You always brought a smile to my face when you appeared on screen.
Sept. 18, 2001, 4:10 p.m. CST
Sept. 18, 2001, 4:19 p.m. CST
It seems that sadness continues to overshadow our happiness. But, let's remember Victor Wong with great happiness. He has given us something that even with his death can never be taken away. Whether as Egg Shen or Dr. Edward Birack or my personal favorite the monk from the "Golden Child," you loved him for what he brought to the movie and that's what makes him such a great actor. So to all you I say that with his body of work and for the fact that he did these films should keep him in the minds and hearts of his fans and loved ones. Peace!
Sept. 18, 2001, 7:36 p.m. CST
Cripes, this is the last thing I needed to read right now. Beautiful eulogy, though, Harry. Especially that last bit (sniff). I'm going to have to rent The Golden Child. I haven't seen it since I was a little tyke and I'd clean forgotten that Victor was in it. You know, I keep thinking of Egg's last scene in Big Trouble in Little China. Forgive me if this isn't totally verbatim. "China's in the heart, Jack. Wherever I go, she's with me." Then he disappears into the mist.
Sept. 18, 2001, 8:40 p.m. CST
One of my all-time favorites, Victor Wong was a pleasure to watch in each film he was in. Thank God for the medium's immortality, and that we can always watch him. He was a marvelous actor, and seemed like such an endearing guy. I mean, he just sucks you into his performances so much, you feel like you know him (or at least that particular character) I'll definitely miss him. Rest in piece, Egg.
Sept. 18, 2001, 9:22 p.m. CST
by Eugene O
Sept. 21, 2001, 10:16 p.m. CST
The picture above of Egg Shen talking on the microphone on the bus tour was taken directly off of http://www.norcalmovies.com/BigTroubleInLittleChina/ No credit was given by Mr. Knowles, nor was it added later when the omission was pointed out to him.
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