Sammo Hung (born Hung Kam Po, 7 January 1952) is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film producer and director, known for his work in many martial arts films and Hong Kong action cinema. He has been a fight choreographer for, amongst others, Jackie Chan, King Hu, and John Woo.
Hung is one of the pivotal figures who spearheaded the Hong Kong New Wave movement of the 1980s, helped reinvent the martial arts genre and started the vampire-like Jiang Shi genre. He is widely credited with assisting many of his compatriots, giving them their starts in the Hong Kong film industry, by casting them in the films he produced, or giving them roles in the production crew.
In East Asia, it is common for people to address their elders or influential people with familial nouns as a sign of familiarity and respect. Jackie Chan, for example, is often addressed as "Dai Goh" (Chinese: 大哥; pinyin: dà gē), meaning Big Brother. Hung was also known as "Dai Goh", until the filming of Project A, which featured both actors. As Hung was the eldest of the kung fu "brothers", and the first to make a mark on the industry, he was given the nickname "Dai Goh Dai" (Chinese: 大哥大; Mandarin Pinyin: dà gē dà; Jyutping: daai6 go1 daai6), meaning, Big, Big Brother or Biggest Big Brother.
Sammo Hung at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.
|Chinese name||洪金寶 (Traditional)|
|Chinese name||洪金宝 (Simplified)|
|Pinyin||Hóng Jīnbǎo (Mandarin)|
|Jyutping||Hung4 Gam1bou2 (Cantonese)|
|Ancestry||Ningbo, Zhejiang, China|
|Born|| January 7, 1952
|Other name(s)||Yuen Lung (元龍) / Chu Yuen Lung (朱元龍), Dai Goh Dai (大哥大; Big, Big Brother)|
|Occupation||Actor, martial artist, director, producer, action choreographer, screenwriter, film presenter|
|Spouse(s)||Jo Yun Ok (1973–1994)
Joyce Godenzi (1995–present)
|Children||Timmy Hung Tin Ming
Jimmy Hung Tin Cheung
Sammy Hung Tin Chiu
Stephanie Hung Chao Yu
|Parents||Hung Shen (father)|
Early yearsHung's ancestral hometown is Ningbo, Zhejiang Province. Born Hung Kam Po in Hong Kong, both of his parents worked as wardrobe artists in the local film industry and guardianship was thrust upon his grandparents. His grandmother was archetypal martial-arts actress Chin Tsi-ang and his grandfather was film director Hung Chung-Ho.
Hung joined the China Drama Academy, a Peking Opera School in Hong Kong, in 1961. He was enrolled for a period of seven years, beginning at the age of 9, after his grandparents heard about the school from their friends. The opera school was run by Master Yu Jim Yuen and as was customary for all students, Hung adopted the given name of his sifu as his family name whilst attending. Going by the name Yuen Lung, Hung became the foremost member of the Seven Little Fortunes (七小福) performing group, and would establish a friendly rivalry with one of the younger students, Yuen Lo. Yuen Lo would go on to become international superstar Jackie Chan. At the age of 14, Hung was selected by a teacher who had connections to the Hong Kong film industry to perform stunts on a movie. This brief foray into the industry piqued his interest in film and he took particular interest in the operation of film cameras. As the eldest of the troupe, Hung would give his opera school brothers pocket money from his earnings, endearing him greatly to his young friends. Shortly before leaving the Academy at the age of 16, Hung suffered an injury that left him bedridden for an extended period, during which time his weight ballooned. After finding work in the film industry as a stuntman, he was given a nickname after a well-known Chinese cartoon character, Sam-mo (三毛; Three Hairs).
Many years later, in 1988, Hung starred in Alex Law's Painted Faces, a dramatic re-telling of his experiences at the China Drama Academy. Among the exercises featured in the film are numerous acrobatic backflips, and hours of handstands performed against a wall. Despite some of the more brutal exercises and physical punishments shown in Painted Faces, Hung and the rest of the Seven Little Fortunes consider the film a toned-down version of their actual experiences.
1960s and 1970sHung appeared as a child actor in several films for Cathay Asia and Bo Bo Films during the early 1960s. His film debut was in the 1961 film Education of Love. In 1962, he made his first appearance alongside Jackie Chan in the film Big and Little Wong Tin Bar, followed by a role in The Birth of Yue Fei, in which he played the ten year old Yue Fei, the historical figure from the Song Dynasty who would go on to become a famous Chinese general and martyr. The majority of Hung's performance was alongside another actor portraying Zhou Tong, Yue's elderly military arts tutor. In 1966, at the age of just 14, Hung began working for Shaw Brothers Studio, assisting the action director Han Yingjie, on King Hu's film Come Drink with Me. Between 1966 and 1974, Hung worked on over 30 wuxia films for Shaw Brothers, progressing through the roles of extra, stuntman, stunt co-ordinator and ultimately, action director.
In 1970, Hung began working for Raymond Chow and the Golden Harvest film company. He was initially hired to choreograph the action scenes for the very first Golden Harvest film, The Angry River (1970). His popularity soon began to grow, and due to the quality of his choreography and disciplined approach to his work, he again caught the eye of celebrated Taiwanese director, King Hu. Hung choreographed two of Hu's films, A Touch of Zen (1971) and The Fate of Lee Khan (1973).
In the same year, Hung went to South Korea to study the martial art Hapkido under master Ji Han Jae.
Also in 1973, he was seen in the Bruce Lee classic, Enter the Dragon. Hung was the Shaolin student Bruce faces in the opening sequence.
In 1975, Hung appeared in The Man from Hong Kong, billed as the first Australian martial arts film.
Toward the late 1970s, Hong Kong cinema began to shift away from the Mandarin-language, epic martial arts films popularised by directors such as Chang Cheh. In a series of films, Hung, along with Jackie Chan, began reinterpreting the genre by making comedic Cantonese kung fu. While these films still strongly featured martial arts, it was mixed with a liberal dose of humour.
In 1977, Hung was given his first lead role in a Golden Harvest production, in the film Shaolin Plot. His next film, released the same year, was also his directorial debut, The Iron-Fisted Monk, one of the earliest kung fu comedies.
In 1978, Raymond Chow gave Hung the task of completing the fight co-ordination for the re-shoot of Game of Death, the film Bruce Lee was unable to complete before his death in 1973.
In 1979, Hung directed his second film, the comedy Enter the Fat Dragon, for H.K. Fong Ming Motion Picture Company, also playing the lead role Ah Lung; a character who idolises and impersonates Bruce Lee. Hung has impersonated Lee on film twice more - in the final fight scene against Cynthia Rothrock in Millionaire's Express (1986), and throughout the 1990 Lau Kar Wing film Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon.
After Jackie Chan's success with Drunken Master (1978), Hung was scheduled to make a similar film featuring Drunken Master's "Beggar So" character played by Yuen Siu Tien (aka Simon Yuen). As his elder, Sammo's films were expected to surpass Chan's in popularity. The film was Magnificent Butcher (1979), which Hung co-directed with Yuen Woo-ping. However, during filming Yuen Siu Tien died of a heart attack. He was replaced by Fan Mei Sheng and Yuen's absence may have led to low ticket sales.
1980sAs Hung's fame grew, he used his newly-found influence to assist his former China Drama Academy classmates, as well as the former students of "rival" school, The Spring and Autumn Drama School. Aside from regular collaborations with Chan, others such as Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Lam Ching-ying and Mang Hoi also began to make regular appearances in his films.
In 1978 and 1981, Hung made two films that contain fine examples of the Wing Chun style. The first, Warriors Two was the most significant role to date for South Korean super kicker Casanova Wong, who teamed up with Hung in the final fight. The second film was The Prodigal Son, in which the Wing Chun fighting was performed by Lam Ching-Ying. The release of The Prodigal Son, along with another film directed by and co-starring Hung, Knockabout (1979) also shot his fellow Opera schoolmate Yuen Biao to stardom.
Hung's martial arts films of the 1980s helped reconfigure how martial arts were presented on screen. While the martial arts films of the 1970s generally featured highly-stylised fighting sequences in period or fantasy settings, Hung's choreography, set in modern urban areas, was more realistic and frenetic - featuring long one-on-one fight scenes. The fight sequences from several of these films, such as those in Winners and Sinners (1982) and Wheels on Meals (1985) came to define 1980s martial arts movies.
In 1983, the collaboration between the triumverate of Hung, Jackie Chan, and Yuen Biao began with Chan's Project A. Hung, Chan and Yuen were known as the 'Three Dragons' and their alliance lasted for 5 years. Although Yuen continued to appear in the films of Hung and Chan, the final film to date starring all three was 1988's Dragons Forever.
Hung was also responsible for the Lucky Stars comedy film series in the 1980s. He directed and co-starred in the original trilogy, Winners and Sinners (1983), My Lucky Stars (1985) and Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985). These first three films featured Chan and Biao in supporting roles. Hung also produced and played a supporting role in the fourth film, Lucky Stars Go Places (1986), and made a cameo appearance in the sixth and final film, How to Meet the Lucky Stars (1996).
During the 1980s, Hung was instrumental in the creating the genre of Jiang Shi (Chinese: 僵屍 or 殭屍; literally "stiff corpse"), the Jiang Shi being hopping re-animated corpses - a Chinese equivalent to Western vampires. Two landmark films, Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980) and The Dead and the Deadly (1983) feature Jiang Shi who move in standing jumps towards their victims, as well as Taoist priests with the ability to quell these vampires (and at times, each other) through magical spells and charms. These films meld Chinese folklore with special effects and kung fu action to create a genre that is uniquely Chinese. Hung's Jiang Shi films would pave the way for films such as the popular Mr. Vampire (1985), which he also produced, and its sequels. He revitalised the sub-genre of female-led kung fu films, producing cop films such as Yes, Madam aka Police Assassins (both 1985), which introduced stars Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock.
FilmAfter some relatively poor performances at the domestic box-office, Hung had a dispute with studio head, Raymond Chow. Hung had produced the thriller Into the Fire (1989), but Hung felt Golden Harvest had withdrawn the film from cinemas too soon. The disagreement led to Hung parting company with Golden Harvest in 1991, after 21 years with the company.
Whilst continuing to produce films through his own company Bojon Films Company Ltd, Hung failed to equal his early successes. His fortunes improved somewhat as the helmer of "Mr. Nice Guy" (1997), a long-awaited reunion with Chan.
In 1994, Hung coordinated the fight sequences in Wong Kar-wai's wuxia epic, Ashes of Time.
TelevisionIn 1998, US television network CBS began to broadcast Martial Law (1998–2000) on Saturday nights, an action-drama built around Hung. The hour-long shows were a surprise success and installed Hung as the only East Asian headlining a prime time network series. The television series was executive produced and occasionally directed by Stanley Tong, and co-starred Arsenio Hall. Hung reportedly recited some of his English dialogue phonetically.
FilmDuring 2000-2001, Hung expressed interest in creating a film adaptation of the video game Soulcalibur. The production agreement for the film was made around April 2001 with an estimated budget of $50 million. Hung had the idea of producing a martial arts epic with Chen Lung Jackie Chan in the lead role, but the film was never made. Hung's plans were detailed on his website, but after a year the announcement was removed. The film rights have since been acquired by Warren Zide, the producer of American Pie and Final Destination.
Hung found renewed success in Hong Kong film industry in the 2000s, beginning with The Legend of Zu (2001), the long-awaited sequel to the 1983 hit Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain. In 2004, Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle was released. Though Yuen Woo-ping was credited for the martial arts choreography on Kung Fu Hustle, Hung actually did the preliminary work but left the film midway through, and Yuen filled in to complete it. Because of his departure from the film, there was tabloid speculation that he and Chow had strong differences over the film, resulting in their separation. Chow has since responded that Hung left for personal reasons and not because of speculated tensions. In 2004, Hung again worked with Jackie Chan, in a brief but notable appearance in Disney's Around the World in 80 Days as the legendary folk hero Wong Fei Hung, a character which, curiously, had been played by Chan himself in the Drunken Master series.
In 2005, Hung was involved in Daniel Lee's Dragon Squad and Wilson Yip's SPL: Sha Po Lang (aka Kill Zone). In the latter, Hung played a villain for the first time in over 25 years, and had his first ever fight scene against Donnie Yen. One of the key relationships in SPL had been Hung's role as the adoptive father of Wu Jing's character. However, these scenes were dropped from the final film as the director couldn't find a way to fit them into the film. In response to this, a prequel film was planned. Hung appeared alongside Wu Jing again in 2007's Twins Mission with stars, the Twins. In early 2008, Hung starred in Fatal Move, in which he and Ken Lo played a pair of rival triad gang leaders. He also starred in, and performed action choreography for, Daniel Lee[disambiguation needed]'s Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon, with Andy Lau and Maggie Q. The film, was based on the book Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Antony Szeto's film, Wushu, which stars Hung premiered in Beijing in October, 2008. The film was unveiled by Golden Network at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Jackie Chan was the film's executive producer, and worked on the film in an advisory capacity, assisting with marketing and casting. Hung then worked again with director Wilson Yip and star Donnie Yen, as the action director for the 2008 film Ip Man.
In 2010, Hung was given a lifetime achievement award at the New York Asian Film Festival, where four of his films were shown. Hung appears in and choreographed Ip Man 2 (2010). His role is that of a Hung Gar master who challenges Ip Man.
TelevisionIn between films and special appearances, Hung has appeared in several East Asian television series. In 2003 he was in two mainland Chinese series - Undercover Cop with Fan Bingbing, followed by The Valley of Lost Vengeance (aka End Enmity Hollow). More recently, he played a master con-artist in the Taiwanese series Coming Lies and Wing Chun master Wong Wah-bo in Wing Chun, reprising the role he played in The Prodigal Son over 20 years earlier. He co-starred in the series alongside Yuen Biao, Nicholas Tse and his youngest son, Sammy Hung.
Hung appeared as a guest judge on the China Beijing TV Station reality television series The Disciple, which aired in mainland China and was produced by, and featured, Jackie Chan. The aim of the program was to find a new star, skilled in acting and martial arts, to become Chan's "successor", the champion being awarded the lead role in a film. It concluded on June 7, 2008, with the series winner announced in Beijing.
In another mainland Chinese television series, The Shaolin Warriors, set during the Ming Dynasty, Hung played Big Foot, a Shaolin warrior monk joining General Qi Jiguang's marines to help defend the nation against Japanese pirates. Sammy Hung also has a role, as Big Foot's disciple.
FutureForthcoming film roles for Hung include starring roles in another Daniel Lee film, entitled Duel and in Vincent Kok's horror comedy, V for Vampire. These will be followed by a co-starring role alongside Bruce Liang in He Who Would Be King produced by Ju Long's new film studio and Kevin Munroe's War Monkeys for Dark Horse Indie, a branch of Dark Horse Entertainment. Hung is also expected to work once again with Stephen Chow, playing a role in the director's forthcoming wuxia comedy film. The film is currently in the script-writing phase and is as-yet unnamed.
Hung has also directed and starred in another martial arts epic entitled Howling Arrow. According to Hung's official website, it stars Aaron Kwok, Wu Jing, and Zhou Xun and was filmed for Tsui Siu-Ming’s Sundream Motion Pictures. Filming was supposed to begin in 2007, but the film appears to have been delayed indefinitely.
FilmographyHung has starred in 75 films, and worked on over 230, beginning as a child actor whilst still attending the China Drama Academy. Upon leaving the opera school, he worked as an extra and stuntman, and progressed through other roles including fight choreographer, stunt co-ordinator, action director, actor, writer, producer and director.
Gar Bo Motion Picture CompanyIn 1978 Sammo Hung formed Gar Bo Motion Picture Company, a subsidiary of Golden Harvest, with director Karl Maka and former actor-choreographer Lau Kar Wing (brother of actors Lau Kar-leung and Gordon Liu). The company's name consists of the "Gar" sound from Lau Kar Wing and Karl Maka (Mak Kar), and "Bo" from Hung Kam Bo.). The company disbanded in 1980, when Maka moved on to form Cinema City & Films Co. with Raymond Wong and Dean Shek. Gar Bo released two films, both starring Hung and Lau:
Bo Ho Film Company LtdBo Ho Film Company Ltd, allowing him to have greater control to produce Hong Kong films. Whilst Bo Ho produced, Golden Harvest still operated as distributors. In all, 40 films were released by Bo Ho, several of which starred Hung:
D&B Films Company LtdD&B Films Company Ltd ("D&B" being short for "Duk-Bo"), with Dickson Poon and John Shum. The company operated until 1992 and produced a total of 77 Hong Kong films:
Bojon Films Company LtdBojon Films Company Ltd. The company produced 5 films, all of which starred Hung: