Middle-aged Hong Kong stars revive on Chinese mainland variety show
Published: Aug 22, 2021 11:47 PM
Photo: Screenshot of Mango TV

Photo: Screenshot of Mango TV

Several middle-age entertainers have aroused Chinese netizen's nostalgia for the heydays of the Hong Kong entertainment industry after they rebranded themselves as the boy band Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, or GBA for short, on the latest episode of the variety show Call Me by Fire.

The five members of GBA, which include 54-year-old Jordan Chan and 49-year-old Julian Cheung, also caused the charm of Cantonese to become a topic of discussion on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo after they talked to each other in the dialect on the program.

Seeking to tackle the age and regional gap, the show gathers 33 male celebrities of various ages from around the world, giving them a platform to display their abilities to sing, dance or play music. Due to the high number of stars from Hong Kong, the show features a high amount of spoken Cantonese for a mainland program. 

The decline of Hong Kong entertainment industry has been commonly recognized, but nostalgia for it is still strong among mainland netizens.

During the second episode of the show that was released on Friday, the interaction between the five Hong Kong stars who mainly rode the whirlwind of popularity in the entertainment industry in the 1990s and the beginning of 2000s made audiences recall classic scenes from the Young and Dangerous film series, in which three of the five members of GBA starred. 

The film series was immensely popular in Hong Kong, leading to nine sequels and spin-offs. The series swept the mainland, penetrating deep into towns and counties as discs and videotapes were sold everywhere in the mainland.

The five main characters in the film series have become a symbol of friendship that deeply influenced the Chinese mainland's Post-1980 and Post-1990 generations.

When Chan and the other two lead actors from the series sang the franchise's theme song, many people in the audience or watching at home couldn't help but burst into tears.

Another Hong Kong star, 57-year-old Paul Wong also joined the show. Wong is a legendary musician who was the guitarist of the Hong Kong band Beyond, which came to an end in 1993 when lead singer Koma Wong died after falling off the stage while shooting a Japanese TV show.

But the band's classic songs are still often sung at KTVs in the Chinese mainland, even in some rural towns. Wong's performance singing one of these songs on the episode of Call Me by Fire inspired the audience to join in for the chorus.

These Hong Kong middle-aged stars also displayed their sincerity in the program to mainland audiences when Chan called for them to speak in Putonghua (Standard Chinese) when facing the camera and then Cantonese when talking with each other. The request got the support of the others.

One employee of Mango TV, the streaming platform on which the variety show airs, told the Global Times that the individual members of the newly formed band have trended on Sina Weibo several times since the program debuted on August 12.

The members have been doing much to push tourism to Hong Kong. 

The official Sina Weibo account of the Hong Kong Tourism Board also mentioned the stars on the social media platform on Wednesday in a post that the members and other stars later forwarded. 

"They let more people see an open and colorful Greater Bay Area. Welcome to Hong Kong to feel charm of the area!" the post said.