Local magician aiming for Tinseltown

NO Malaysian has had greater impact in Hollywood than Datuk Michelle Yeoh.

Now, one of her compatriots, Vin Chee, is hoping to follow in her footsteps. His ticket to fame for now is his ability to leave his audience spellbound with his magician’s act.

Twenty-nine-year-old Chee, whose real name is Chee Yun Fong (pix), has won acclaim for performing his magic tricks in many cities around the world.

But his eyes are set on Tinseltown. Not even a brush with death has dampened his desire for the glamour of stardom.

Where Chee comes from is a world away from Hollywood. He was born in Brunei, the third of five sons and when he turned six his family moved back to Malaysia, settling down in Kuala Lumpur.

As a teenager he aspired to be a singer, “but I quickly learned that I could not sing or dance”.

He then turned to performing magic tricks, and has never looked back.

“I actually started performing these tricks to earn extra money,” he told theSun. “It was a pastime and a passion for me.”

He soon began to receive positive feedback about his performances. “People just thought that I was a natural,” he said.

He uploaded his first video on YouTube’s KL Street Magician series and garnered 30,000 views.

He was 20 then, with all the enthusiasm of youth bursting inside him.

“I felt that I was ready for a career as a magician,” he said.

Apart from Malaysia, he has performed in Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul, London, New York, Warsaw and Hong Kong.

Chee made his first appearance in a Hollywood movie at age 21. He was cast as an extra in Blackhat, a Hollywood action thriller starring Chris Hemsworth and Wang Leehom, both of whom he said were his idols.

“My role was to assist Chris in donning a hazmat suit and respirator mask on screen,” he recalled.

The movie, which was only released in 2015, did not do that well at the box office.

In 2014, he moved to Taiwan where he represented Malaysia in a Chinese TV talk show but he continued to nurture his Hollywood dream.

However, the world came crashing down on him in 2016. He had lost his job and had split up with his girlfriend.

“I was feeling depressed and mentally exhausted. That was the lowest point of my life,” he said.

But it did not end there. On April 5 that year, he passed out while he was at the gym.

“I had just had a sleepless night and it must have taken a toll on me,” he said. He was then rushed to hospital.

While he was at the Taipei Medical University Hospital, two of his brothers flew to Taiwan to see him.

Chee said he had always gone to the gym daily to stay trim. “Combined with a strict diet, I managed to stay lean and muscular,” he said. Following the scare, he decided to return to Malaysia.

A year later, he competed in the Asia’s Got Talent competition and managed to impress the judges with his magic tricks.

He won a minor role in the 2018 hit movie Crazy Rich Asians that also starred Malaysia’s acting diva Yeoh.

Another of his movie roles is that of a hotel guest in Simon West’s Skyfire. He was also cast in the Hong Kong web drama The Impossible 3, just before the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Chee may have had to put his pursuit of fame on hold for now, but he remains determined to fulfil his dream.