Police thriller 'Cold War' heats up Hong Kong Film Awards

Police action thriller "Cold War" swept the Hong Kong Film Awards on Saturday, carrying off nine prizes including the best actor gong for veteran star Tony Leung Ka-fai.

The film, about two rival officers' struggle to run a hostage rescue operation, also took best film, best director and best screenplay at the glamorous event considered to be Hong Kong's equivalent of the Academy Awards.

"It's because of this group of such fine performers that we have been successful in producing 'Cold War'," said Leung, 55.

"My daughters called me and told me to thank them, then I said why should I thank you? They said because we watched 'Cold War' four times... we watched it four times, and every time we brought along 20 classmates," an elated Leung said as he received his prize on stage.

Leung played a deputy police commissioner vying for power with a fellow senior officer played by Hong Kong actor Aaron Kwok over an operation to rescue five kidnapped officers.

The best actress honour went to singer-turned-actress Miriam Yeung for her role in the romantic comedy "Love in the Buff".

"I never thought I would have this chance," an emotional Yeung said. "Because I started off as a singer... so during the process of acting, I did not know a lot of things when I first started," she said.

Detective thriller "The Bullet Vanishes" along with "Cold War" led the race with 12 nominations each as the films went head-to-head in the major acting and directing categories.

The "Best Film of Mainland and Taiwan" category, which was added last year in recognition of the regional film industry, was won by the mainland Chinese production "Back to 1942".

The historical film tells a story of a wealthy man caught up in a famine during the Japanese occupation of China in World War II.

There have been increasing collaborations between Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland filmmakers in recent years to tap the lucrative China market.

The annual Hong Kong Film Awards -- in its 32st edition this year -- is one of the two Chinese language film industry's most prestigious events, alongside Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards.

The glitzy ceremony was held at the harbourfront Hong Kong Cultural Centre attended by dozens of movie stars and celebrities from the city, mainland China and Taiwan, wearing custom-made designer suits and colourful dresses.

The southern Chinese city became an international movie powerhouse in the 1970s and remains a rich source of film talent, with its stars enjoying huge popularity across Asia.