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 Jiang Shi genre.
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", meaning Big Brother. Hung was known 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", meaning, Big, Big Brother or Biggest Big Brother.
The early years
Hung's ancestral hometown is Ningbo, Zhejiang Province. Born Hong Gam-Bou 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 7 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 performing group, and would establish a school 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., 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 , Yue's elderly military arts tutor.
In 1966, at the age of just 14, Hung began working for Shaw Brothers Studio, assisting the 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 , stuntman, stunt co-ordinator and ultimately, action director.
In 1970, Hung began working for Raymond Chow and the Golden Harvest film company. 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 movies, ''A Touch of Zen'' and ''The Fate of Lee Khan'' .
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 student Bruce faces in the opening sequence.
Toward the late 1970s, Hong Kong cinema began to shift away from the -language, epic martial arts movies popularised by directors such as Chang Cheh. In a series of movies, Hung, along with Jackie Chan, began reinterpreting the genre by making comedy kung fu. While these movies still strongly featured martial arts, they also feature a liberal mixture of humour.
In 1977, Hung was given his first lead role in a Golden Harvest production, in the film ''Shaolin Plot''. His next film was his directorial debut, ''The Iron Fisted Monk'', one of the earliest kung fu comedies. and is assisting with casting.
Hung has also directed and starred in another martial arts epic entitled ''Howling Arrow'', and the film is currently in post-production. According to Hung's official website, the film stars Aaron Kwok, Wu Jing, and Zhou Xun and was filmed for Tsui Siu-Ming’s Sundream Motion Pictures.
Further announced film projects that will involve Hung include a starring role in Daniel Lee's '''', an action direction role for '''' and another starring role in Vincent Kok's horror comedy, ''V for Vampire''.
In between films and special appearances, Hung has appeared in several East Asian TV series. In 2003 he was in two Mainland China series' - ''Undercover Cop'' with Fan Bing-Bing, followed by ''The Valley of Lost Vengeance'' . More recently, he played a master con-artist in the Taiwanese series ''Coming Lies'' and Wing Chun master Wong Wah-bo in the Hong Kong series '''', reprising the role he played in over 20 years earlier. He co-starred in the series alongside Yuen Biao, Nicholas Tse and his youngest son, Sammy Hung.
Hung is scheduled to appear as a guest judge on the China Beijing TV Station reality television series '''', which is currently airing in Mainland China and is produced by, and features Jackie Chan. The aim of the program is 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 will conclude on June 7, 2008, with the series winner being announced in Beijing.
Another Mainland series is also due, ''Shaolin Temple: Monks and Marines'', set during the Ming dynasty, in which Hung will play Big Foot, a Shaolin warrior monk joining General Qi Ji Guang's marines to help defend the nation against Japanese pirates. Sammy Hung also has a role, as Big Foot's disciple.
''For more information, see Sammo Hung filmography.''
Hung 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 Company
In 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 . The company's name consists of the "Gar" sound from Lau Kar Wing and Karl Ma-ka, 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:
* ''Dirty Tiger, Crazy Frog''
Bo Ho Film Company Ltd
1980 saw Raymond Chow pull one of Hung's films from local cinemas after just two weeks. Hung responded by starting his own production company Bo 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:
* ''Encounters of the Spooky Kind''
* ''Long Arm of the Law''
* ''Mr. Vampire''
* ''Heart of Dragon
* ''Those Merry Souls''
* ''Lucky Stars Go Places''
* ''Millionaire's Express'' aka ''Shanghai Express''
* ''Paper Marriage''
* ''Righting Wrongs'' aka ''Above the Law''
* ''The Strange Bedfellow''
* ''Mr. Vampire Part 2''
* ''Eastern Condors''
* ''Mr. Vampire Part 3''
* ''The Final Test''
* ''The Happy Bigamist''
* ''My Cousin, the Ghost''
* ''Scared Stiff''
* ''Sworn Brothers''
* ''To Err is Humane'' aka ''To Err is Human''
* ''China's Last Eunuch'' aka ''Lai Shi, China's Last Eunuch''
* ''Mr. Vampire Saga 4''
* ''Picture of a Nymph'' aka ''Portrait of a Nymph''
* ''One Husband Too Many''
* ''Blonde Fury''
* ''Three Against the World''
* ''A Fishy Story''
* ''Doctor's Heart''
* ''Her Fatal Ways''
* ''Mortuary Blues''
* ''Shanghai, Shanghai'' aka ''Shanghai Encounter''
* ''She Shoots Straight'' aka ''Lethal Lady''
* ''Queens Bench III''
* ''The Top Bet''
* ''Lover at Large''
* '''' aka ''Operation Scorpio''
D&B Films Company Ltd
In 1983, Hung co-founded another production company, D&B Films Company Ltd, with Dickson Poon and John Shum.
* ''Hong Kong 1941''
* ''The Owl vs Bumbo'' aka ''The Owl vs Bombo''
* ''The Return of Pom Pom''
* ''It's a Drink, It's a Bomb''
* ''Mr. Boo Meets Pom Pom''
* ''Police Assassins'' aka ''Yes, Madam!''
* ''Dream Lovers''
* ''Silent Love''
* ''Legacy of Rage''
* ''Pom Pom Strikes Back''
* '''' aka ''Royal Warriors''
* ''From Here to Prosperity''
* ''The Lunatics''
* ''On the Red''
* ''Where's Officer Tuba?''
* ''It's a Mad Mad World''
* ''Porky's Meatballs''
* ''The Wrong Couple'' aka ''The Wrong Couples''
* ''Magnificent Warriors'' aka ''Yes, Madam 3''
* ''You're OK, I'm OK!''
* ''The Final Victory''
* ''The Gang Don't Shoot Straight'' aka ''The Goofy Gang''
* ''An Autumn's Tale''
* ''In the Line of Duty 3'' aka ''Yes, Madam 2''
* ''Sapporo Story''
* ''Heart To Hearts''
* ''It's A Mad Mad World 2''
* ''Tiger Cage''
* ''Classmate Party'' aka ''Student Union''
* ''Double Fattiness''
* ''Darkside Of Chinatown''
* ''In the Line of Duty 4'' aka ''In the Line of Duty'' aka ''Yes, Madam 4''
* ''Mr. Fortune''
* ''It's A Mad Mad World 3''
* ''Funny Ghost''
* ''A Bite of Love''
* ''Tiger Cage 2''
* ''Heart Into Hearts''
* ''BB 30''
* ''Brave Young Girls''
* ''Look Out, Officer!''
* ''Perfect Girls''
* ''Vampire Settle on Police Camp''
* ''Forbidden Arsenal''
* ''The Perfect Match''
* ''Dreams of Glory, A Boxer's Story''
* ''Tiger Cage 3''
* ''His Fatal Ways''
* ''Will of Iron''
* ''Black Cat 2''
* ''Heart Against Hearts''
Bojon Films Company Ltd
In 1989, Hung formed a new production company, Bojon Films Company Ltd. The company produced 5 films, all of which starred Hung:
* ''Pedicab Driver''
* ''Encounters of the Spooky Kind 2''
* ''Pantyhose Hero'' aka ''Pantyhose Killer''
* ''Slickers vs. Killers''
* ''Don't Give a Damn'' aka ''Burger Cop''
* Hung's grandmother was martial-arts actress Chin Tsi-ang, who starred in almost 80 films between 1941 and 2002. His grandfather was film director and writer Hung Chung Ho, who directed over 40 films between 1937 and 1950.
* Hung's younger brother, Lee Chi Kit, has worked on almost 40 films, many of which Hung was also involved with. Lee also worked on Hung's ''Martial Law'' series. He works primarily as a supporting actor and action director.
* He has three sons and a daughter, Timmy Hung , Jimmy Hung , Sammy Hung and Stephanie Hung with Jo Yun Ok, whom he grew up with in martial arts training school. He divorced Yun Ok in 1994 and married model and actress in 1995. Godenzi appeared in several of his films including ''The Haunted Island'' ''Eastern Condors'' , and ''Paper Marriage'' prior to the pair becoming a couple. She also appeared in .
* Timmy Hung has appeared alongside his father in '''' and '''', as well as having a recurring role in Sammo's series, ''Martial Law''.
* Sammy Hung appeared as the nemesis to Nicholas Tse's character in the 2007 television series ''Wing Chun'', a remake of the original series broadcast in 1994, and the subsequent film ''''. The series also starred Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao.
* Hung is one of the celebrities honoured on the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong.
* Hung is known for his large frame. Despite this, he is a surprisingly agile and formidable martial artist.
* He has a circular scar on the right-hand side of his face, just above his lip. In the early days of his film career, Hung was involved in a street fight outside a Kowloon nightclub, and was stabbed with a broken cola bottle.
In popular culture
* A pop band from Wales named themselves ''Sammo Hung'' after the actor.
* Master Elehung Kinpo, from ''Juken Sentai Gekiranger'', is named after him. Coincidentally, Yū Mizushima, the voice actor for Elehung Kinpo, did the dubbing for Sammo Hung.