62-Year-Old Fei Xiang Simmers in ‘Creation of the Gods’

Hide your mom — 1980s heartthrob Fei Xiang is back in ‘Creation of the Gods’

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9:13 PM HKT, Tue July 25, 2023 2 mins read

In the landscape of Chinese entertainment, few stars shine as brightly as Fei Xiang. Known in the Western world as Kris Phillips, the Taiwanese-American pop sensation is back in the limelight in China — this time as the villainous King Zhou in Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms.

Fei Xiang exploded onto the scene in 1987, when he became the first foreigner to perform on CCTV’s famous Spring Festival Gala. He wore a dazzling red jacket, gyrating his hips across the stage and dancing with an unprecedented charisma in a China that was still shaking off the effects of the Cultural Revolution.

His magnetic stage presence was undeniable. In that moment, he was transformed into an early pop icon and sex symbol, carving out a special space for himself in the hearts of countless fans.

In the three years that followed, Fei Xiang released five albums in mainland China, and in 1989 alone, performed over 60 live concerts there. Decades later, his name still holds a certain magic, especially for the generation that grew up in the grip of Fei Xiang fever.

Now, that enduring charm is coming to the realm of high fantasy in Creation of the Gods.

Based on the 16th-century Chinese fantasy novel Investiture of the Gods, the first installment of the Fengshen trilogy portrays an era of legendary battles between humans, immortals, and monsters. Set more than three thousand years in the past, the film is part of an ongoing zeitgeist in China of films and TV which channel ancient Chinese literary and historical motifs.

The film, which premiered on July 20th, is off to a rocketing start, having already drawn in more than 500 million RMB at the domestic box office.

This isn’t the first time Fei Xiang has suddenly re-appeared in the spotlight. In 2012, he made a surprise appearance as the chief villain in the fantasy epic Painted Skin: The Resurrection. He appeared on the red carpet at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, while the film went on to break China’s domestic box office records.

In 2016, he made another appearance, this time co-starring alongside superstar actress Gong Li in the Monkey King 2. The film was another hit, earning over $185 million at the Chinese box office.

Creation of the Gods is helmed by director Wuershan, the same mind behind Fei Painted Skin: The Resurrection. In an interview with GQ, Fei Xiang said he was “dumbfoundead” when he got the offer for the main villain King Zhou.

“I thought it would just be a cameo," he said. "I told [Wuershan], I can play any role you want, and I’m willing to play any role. I’m in, regardless.”

“Villains are very attractive to me, and they’re quite challenging," he added. “I accepted the role immediately.”

Perhaps Fei Xiang’s newfound sense of villainous intrigue is fueled by an inherent contrast with the youthful, red-clad pop star version of himself. But those who knew him growing up will always see Fei Xiang through rose-tinted glasses — and to get straight to the point, the man has aged like fine wine.

And when it came to King Zhou’s steamy bathing scene, online commenters couldn’t contain their excitement.

“But he’s really very sexy,” writes one.

“My mom’s Adonis,” admits another.

“My mom’s idol is 62 and ripped, while mine is 32 and in jail,” lamented a third, jokingly referring to fallen pop star Kris Wu.

Fei Xiang himself laughed about the scene, but also described its importance.

“When I was young I never took off my clothes,” he said. "Now I’m 60 and I have to take off my clothes!”

“I could have said no, never, because X, Y, Z,” he added. “But I just said, okay, let’s do it.”

Preparing for the role involved hours and hours of training — not just horseriding and martial arts, but serious bodybuilding. For Fei Xiang, all of these felt necessary.

“King Zhou is a general, having fought for many years," he said. “Strength and the shape of his body are important to the credibility of the role.”

Ask any Chinese Gen-Z or millennial’s mom, and she’s sure to agree.

Images via Weibo. Additional reporting by Margaret Sun.

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