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Sammo Hung

Sammo Hung met Jackie Chan at an early age while studying at the Peking Opera School, where became part of a troupe known as the Seven Little Fortunes. Having made his film debut as an actor at age 12, Hung was the first of the Fortunes to begin working in martial arts films. His best­known villain role was in Bruce Lee's last completed film, Enter the Dragon, where Hung took on Hong Kong's first superstar in a classic kung fu battle filmed a few weeks before Lee's death.

Determined to make his mark as a martial arts choreographer, Hung helped shape the genre that made Golden Harvest Hong Kong's leading studio and launched the careers of several stars. One of whom was the internationally famed Angela Mao, whom Hung choreographed in numerous films.

In 1978, Golden Harvest called on Hung to choreograph a duel between a Bruce Lee look alike and Casanova Wong in Game of Death, making possible the completion of Lee's last film after his untimely death. The following year, Hung starred in Enter the Fat Dragon, an early kung fu comedy where he plays a swineherd who idolizes Lee. The character proved popular, and Hung repeated the role in two other films.

Although it was Jackie Chan who assumed the mantle of Bruce Lee and achieved international stardom through the genre martial arts comedy, Hung made an early contribution to the genre with his first film as a director, The Iron­Fisted Monk. He subsequently directed Warriors Two, The Prodigal, Knockabout and Encounters of the Spooky Kind, which he produced, directed and starred in and which launched the kung fu/horror genre.

Hung went on to produce and star in other films for Golden Harvest, including The Dead and the Deadly, Mr. Vampire, Zu, Warriors of the Mystic Mountain.

The first film to reunite former Little Fortunes Jackie Chan, Samo Hung and Yuen Biao was Hand of Death, directed by future Hollywood super­director John Woo. Six years later, Hung took the reins on the trio's first hit, Winners and Sinners. That film launched a series of successful action­comedies such as My Lucky Stars and Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars.

The trio's best ensemble work, however, was in four films built around Jackie Chan's growing international popularity, all directed by Hung: Project A, Wheels on Meals, First Mission and Dragons Forever.

In the '80s Hung directed and starred in three films that critics consider among his best work, Shanghai Express, Eastern Condors and Pedicab Driver. He also opposite Maggie Cheung in Paper Marriage, a Chinese version of Green Card, and director Alex Law's Painted Faces, a drama about the Peking Opera School which won him his second Hong Kong Film Award (the Hong Kong Oscar) for his work as an actor.

In the 90s, Hung directed six independent features and resumed to his early role as stunt coordinator on Ashes of Time and Thunderbolt, Jackie Chan's multi­national race­car adventure.

Since completing Mr. Nice Guy, Hung has directed his first film shot partly in the U.S., Once Upon a Time in China and America, produced by Tsui Hark and starring Jet Lee.

In his definitive biographical essay on Samo Hung in his book Hong Kong Action Cinema, Bey Logan says this about Hung's amazing career to date: "He has constantly been a trend­setter in the Hong Kong film industry, sending the martial arts genre in fresh and successful directions. Samo has also helped launch several of his co­workers as stars, though none ever look as good in their own films as they do in a Samo Hung production."


Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

Sammo Hung Facts

OccupationActor
BirthdayJanuary 7, 1952 (65)
SignCapricorn
BirthplaceHong Kong

Selected Filmography

The Hand of Death
My Lucky Stars
Hapkido
Lucky Stars Go Places
Heart of the Dragon
The Prodigal Son
Eastern Condors
Martial Law//The Complete Collection
Iron-Fisted Monk
Rise of the Legend
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