The son of a murdered policeman, Simon Yam became one of Hong Kong's most successful actors, often starring in crime dramas whose plots were thematically similar to the circumstances of his father's death. Gaining early recognition as a model in the '70s, Yam then moved to acting. In the late 1980s, he signed a contract with Hong Kong television station TVB, for whom he appeared in several series. His first English-language film was the martial arts-centered "Final Fight" in 1989, a local hit. A prolific actor, Yam was noticed by both film critics and audiences in 1992 when he co-starred with Chow Yun-fat in the action film "Full Contact." He continued to be a central actor in Hong Kong cinema throughout the '90s, appearing in several films a year with many of Hong Kong's most successful filmmakers and actors. In 2003, he held a lead role in Johnnie To's crime thriller "PTU," which garnered multiple awards. That same year, he crossed over into American cinema with a supporting role in the video-game spinoff "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life," opposite Angelina Jolie. In 2005, Yam collaborated again with To, on another crime thriller, "Election," as an embattled crime boss. Quentin Tarantino dubbed it the best film of 2005. Yam starred in the 2008 biopic "Ip Man," about Bruce Lee's mentor of the same name, as well as in its sequel in 2010.