Five-0 Redux: Honoring Dennis Chun

Jun. 29, 2013 | 11 Comments

BY WENDIE BURBRIDGE / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Dennis Chun may play Sgt. Duke Lukela on “Hawaii Five-0,” but to fans he’s more than just an actor on their favorite television show.

Chun often takes time out of his busy schedule to attend fan gatherings and say hello to fans from near and far. For many of the Hawaiʻi fans, Chun has become a welcome addition to different activities planned by bloggers Lisa Woo, Keith Sato and Amy Bakari.

 Dennis Chun with Lisa Woo, left, and Amy Bakari. (Courtesy Lisa Woo)

Dennis Chun with Lisa Woo, left, and Amy Bakari. (Courtesy Lisa Woo)

On Friday, June 14, fans got together at Big City Diner Ward to honor Chun at a surprise “H50 Fan Appreciation” party. Organized by Bakari and Woo, Hawaiʻi fans greeted Chun with a small token of their aloha — a thank you for a man who is always willing to share his aloha with “Five-0” viewers.

“For those of us (who) have gotten to know him better over the years, we are privileged and blessed to be able to call him our friend,” said Woo, who was integral in putting together a photo album for Chun filled with pictures of him with fans. “We’ve also gotten to meet his partner, Laura (Mellow), who is just as lovely and sweet. We have become ‘ohana.”

Bakari made Chun a special hōkū trophy with an engraved message: “In appreciation of Dennis Chun — Hoʻomaikaʻi ma kou ia ʻoe, Mahalo Nui Loa, H50hana fans 2013.” Bakari felt that honoring Chun “is our way of showing our appreciation to Dennis for showing up in almost all of our events and taking the to meet fans from all over the world.”

Philadelphia fan Linda Stein summed up how Chun makes a visiting fan feel special. Stein and her husband, Dennis, came to Hawaiʻi in May for their dream vacation and met up with Woo and Sato to have a few Blue Hawaii’s at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, a popular shooting spot for the show. Woo had asked Chun to come to dinner and surprise Stein, who was floored when she saw the actor standing behind her.

“I just couldn’t believe he was there,” said Stein. “I mean, who am I for him to make an effort to come and meet me? I’m just a random fan.”

But she is not alone in feeling that Chun doesn’t make anyone feel like “just a random fan.” Many fans I’ve talked to said the same thing.

“He made me feel like all the work they do to put on a great show is because of fans like me,” Stein said. “He made me feel welcomed and as if he was honored to meet me, as much as I was to meet him. I can honestly say there can’t be a better ambassador for Hawaiʻi and the aloha spirit than Dennis Chun.”

Dennis Chun in a scene from the season three finale. (Courtesy CBS)

Dennis Chun in a scene from the season three finale. (Courtesy CBS)

Florida fan Teresea Lea Brown also had kind words for Chun. Brown is a fan of the classic “Hawaii Five-O” as well as the rebooted version, and is often my go-to when I need facts and information about the classic show. She is a big fan of Chun and his dad, Kam Fong, who played Chin Ho Kelly in the original.

Brown wrote a short speech, which was read by fellow fan Benny Fontillas at Chun’s surprise.

“The talented Dennis Chun, portrayer of Sgt. Duke Lukela on the hit crime drama ‘Hawaii Five-0,’ a beloved son of Hawaii, is being honored with the first H50hana Appreciation Award. This honor is being bestowed upon Mr. Chun by the fans as a token of their appreciation for his embracing them as ‘ohana. His aloha for the fans, their devotion and admiration of the work of the cast, the crew, and the show itself has been the bond that has formed a worldwide fan base for this gifted performer. Dennis’ ambassadorship of the show’s history, his history, his love of acting, and Hawaii, has left all who have met him touched by his aloha. His gentlemanly, respectful aura leaves you feeling like you are truly part of an ʻohana. It is for this, and so much more, that Dennis shares with the fans, that they, the fans, are presenting him with the first H50hana Appreciation Award. Mahalo Nui Loa, dear sir.”

Hawaii News Now reporter Tannya Joaquin arrived to cover the special event and filmed a short segment for the June 14 evening news, and fellow “Hawaii Five-O” alum Kimo Kahoano stopped by to congratulate Chun and say hello to fans.

 Fans present actor Dennis Chun with the H50hana Fan Appreciation Award. (Courtesy Amy Bakari)

Fans present actor Dennis Chun with the H50hana Fan Appreciation Award. (Courtesy Amy Bakari)

All in all, the special token bestowed on Chun was more meaningful to him than he could express that day.

“I was so humbled and honored. There really are no words to explain how touched I was,” he said. “It means more to me than an Oscar or an Emmy because it came from the fans. They are people who invite you into their homes and they are the ones who really deserve the thanks. I’m just grateful that I can touch a part of my dream.”

For the fans, Chun is a connection to the show that they love and actors they admire. What better way to appreciate a part of the show, by honoring one of the actors who allows them to get a glimpse behind the camera.

Redux Side Note:

Fans of “Hawaii Five-0” got several bits of good news in the last two weeks with the announcement of the Hawaiʻi “Sunset on the Beach” premiere, as well as the television premiere date also being set by CBS. “Sunset on the Beach” festivities are set for Thursday, Sept. 26, with the start of season four beginning the following Friday, Sept. 27.

This week “Na Ki’i” started off the official move to the new “Hawaii Five-0” night and time. Now fans will enjoy “Five-0″ Fridays at 8 p.m. in Hawaiʻi. The show takes a break next Friday, July 5, but will return July 12 with “Hoa Pili” directed by “Five-0″ stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente.
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Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

  • pauldunn1

    Wendie,
    OHOH, am I the first to post. Another very good insight as to the local activities even during the summer break. Dennis Chun is not only the perfect person to play the part of Duke in the reboot, plus a very good person. Thank you for being willing to meet fans and actually talk to them. Thank you Wendie for this type of post.
    Paul

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks for reading Paul! And for commenting. I talked to Dennis last night and he was just so humbled and honored. It makes us all glad to show him some kind of appreciation since HE’S so appreciative of the fans! And he truly is a class act. Hope you will get to meet him one day:) Aloha, Wendie

  • LindaStein

    Wendie…thank you so much for asking me to contribute to this article about Dennis. I knew my trip to Hawaii was going to be a dream come true no matter what but being able to spend time with you, Lisa, Keith, Monica, and Melanie made it extra special. Meeting Dennis and being able to spend an evening getting to know him and Laura was the giant cherry on top. I consider myself truly honored to have been able to spend time with him. I learned so much about the original show, about how he approaches the part of Duke on our Five-0 and about his dad, Kam Fong that I never knew. I’m going to repeat myself here but it’s sooooooo true! There can be no better ambassador for Hawaii and the Aloha spirit then Dennis Chun!

    And, once again, mahalo nui loa to you, Lisa, Keith and all the other 808ers who made my trip something truly special! Aloha Au Ia`oe to you all!

    • Wendie Joy

      Linda- thank YOU so much for coming to visit us and for sharing your Philly Aloha with us! And thanks for letting me quote you and use your pics. Loved hanging out with you and your Dennis:) It was such a fun day. Mahalo nui! Aloha, Wendie

      • LindaStein

        <3 sistah!

  • jlopie1

    Wow! What a nice man! Dennis goes far out of his way to connect with H50′s fans! Whether he knows it or not, he has garnered quite a following of fans and friends for himself, too!

    A big mahalo to you Wendie for this article, and to Dennis for surprising my sis, Linda, as well as embodying the aloha spirit.

    Looking forward to the new season on Friday nights – wish I could be there for SOTB4, but I’ll be coming for a visit in 2014 and hope to meet Dennis and the 808ers then!

    • Wendie Joy

      Lynnette- you know the 808ers will love to see you whenever you get to Hawai’i:) Thanks for reading and supporting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Madaline Rico

    I was truly honored to be able to meet Dennis Chun last year, at the H50 fan luau we had at the Kualoha Ranch. Dennis is a true ambassador of Aloha for the state of Hawaii, and for the fans of Hawaii Five-0. Peter Lenkov couldn’t have picked a better actor to play Sgt. Duke Lukela. Thank you Wendie for giving us another wonderfully written article, about a very deserving man.

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks Maddy:) Glad you got to meet Dennis. He really is awesome:) Thanks for reading and supporting! Aloha, Wendie

  • Amy Bakari

    Thanks so much, Wendie – Dennis is a wonderful actor/ awesome man. My family and I is honored to know him and Laura. He welcomed us with his warm “Ohana spirit”. His love for Hawaii Five-O and Hawaii Five-0 transcends our television screen – to me he is the “un” official Hawaii Five-0 Ambassador. It is a privilege to know the man behind Sgt. Duke Lukela – and I am so sure dad, Kam Fong would have been so proud.

    • Wendie Joy

      Thanks so much for posting this on FB- and for reading and commenting Amy:) And thank you for putting this honor together for Dennis. He’s very special to me and to all of us. We are all so lucky that he came into our lives and shares his time with us. Thanks for sharing your experience and your pics with me. Mahalo, my friend:) Aloha, Wendie