The success of Ding Dong opened up more job opportunities for Lam. His voice appeared more frequently in advertisements. The boom times for the Hong Kong movie industry in the 1980s kept voice actors, including Lam, always on the hop. He was the designated voice actor for action star Sammo Hung Kam-po and heart-throb Alexander Cheung Fu-sheng.
“There were a few times when I worked continuously for three to four days,” recalls Lam. “After I finished my work in TVB, I earned extra income by voice acting for movies outside. After that, I went to work in TVB again. ”As there was no live recording on location in those days, voice actors needed to grasp the personalities and tone of voice of the characters by studying soundless demos. Directors and sometimes even the actors of the movies would come and explain the characters to them. Though it was more difficult than the television work, Lam especially values the experience of working on movies because it enabled him to learn more from studying the characters of his roles.
Among the hundreds of movies he has voice acted, Lam’s most memorable is the mentally disabled character he voiced in The First Mission, played by Sammo Hung Kam-po. As Hung’s regular voice actor in martial arts films, Lam found it an interesting challenge to voice act for one of his non-action roles.
Still, the character in The First Mission was not the most challenging role Lam ever came across. That distinction goes to the character of Yue Buqun in a Taiwanese TV drama The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (Xiao’ao Jianghu) in the early 1990s. “It gave me a hard time as the actor spoke in an unstable tempo, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. This is the most difficult situation in voice acting,” says Lam. “When actors do not perform well in their own parts, it creates problems for the voice actors.”
With more than 40 years in the industry, the smiling avuncular Lam is a consummate professional with exacting standards. He has seen remarkable changes over time.
On the negative side, he has noticed more young voice actors have a problem of so-called lazy sounds or pronunciation. He also finds it an unhealthy trend that movie companies invite stars to do the voice acting for animation features. “They cannot catch the mouth shapes and the emotions of the characters. But movie companies need gimmicks,” Lam says.