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Sammo HUNG Kam-bo

AKA: Big Brother (nickname), Samo Hung Kam Bo, Sammo Hung Kam Po, Hung Ching Pao, Chu Yuen Lung, Hung Gam Bo, Hong Jin Bao

Gender: male

Born: January 7, 1952 (Hong Kong)

Biography: From an early start as action director for Golden Harvest, Sammo Hung has marveled audiences with a celebrated career that includes starring and supporting roles in numerous comical and dramatic martial arts films, impressive directing and producing credits, and a successful American television series. As the eldest member of the Seven Little Fortunes that included Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao, Sammo has often supported and led the way for his fellow stars, thus earning the nickname of "Big Brother."

Born as Hong Jin Bao in Hong Kong, the name Sammo was eventually taken from the Cantonese pronunciation of a popular cartoon character called San Mao (three hairs). His grandparents, who were his guardians while his parents toiled in the local film industry enrolled him in the Peking Opera Academy where he became the elder member of the Seven Little Fortunes, a group of children rigorously trained in acrobatics, martial arts, and singing. Sammo would eventually portray his former school master in Painted Faces (1988), a dramatic account of this troubling period in his life where students were pushed to their limits. It was at the academy where he formed lifelong bonds with fellow students, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao who would later benefit from his early success in Hong Kong's film industry.

Although Sammo had been selected to fill children's roles in several films during the '60's, it wasn't until 1970 that Sammo had his first break after being enlisted by Golden Harvest to choreograph the action for The Fast Sword. He had left the school in hopes finding work in the film industry since a successful future in Chinese opera was unlikely. He quickly earned a solid reputation, thanks in part to his stern nature and discipline. Sammo earned even more praise working in various films such as King Hu's A Touch of Zen (1971) and The Fate of Lee Khan (1973). Sammo was even selected to face off against Bruce Lee at the introduction to Enter the Dragon, a scene which provided a strong contrast between Lee's wiry frame and Sammo's larger girth, which he has maintained since childhood. Remarkably, Sammo's size had little affect on his amazing dexterity and speed which became so apparent in films such as Knockabout (1979) and The Magnificent Butcher (1979).

Sammo successes led to the formation of several production companies and even his own stuntman's association. He had his first directorial credit in 1977 with the film The Iron-Fisted Monk. He was already helping his old opera brothers find work in the film industry as evidenced in Hand of Death (1976), which featured Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao in small roles. It wasn't long before Jackie became Hong Kong's next superstar and thereby led the industry's move into the comic kung fu genre in the late '70's. Sammo is probably best remembered for his fun-loving roles in several films from this era that included Enter the Fat Dragon (1978) and Encounter of the Spooky Kind (1981). The latter spawned a whole sub-genre of supernatural comedies that prospered throughout the '80's.

By teaming up with his increasingly popular opera brothers, Sammo was to have some of his greatest successes. 1982's Prodigal Son starring Yuen Biao earned a nomination for best picture and best direction. It settled for for the best choreography award at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Subsequent collaborations with Biao and Jackie resulted in Project A (1983), Wheels on Meals (1984), and Dragons Forever (1988) which are considered genre classics, thanks in large part to the genuine onscreen chemistry generated by these friends.

Eastern Condors (1987) harkened a new era for Sammo, both in terms of his exploration of more dramatic themes and his relationship with co-star Joyce Godenzi, whom he eventually married. Sammo saw his ample martial arts skills in high demand with the resurgence of kung fu films in the early '90's. His choreography on the wire-enhanced films, Blade of Fury (1993), The Kung Fu Cult Master (1993), and Ashes of Time (1994) are definite highlights.

As the 20th century drew to a close, Sammo found himself following in Jackie's footsteps, a stark reversal of their roles in the mid-seventies. Jackie had finally found success in Hollywood after 1995's Rumble in the Bronx and it was Sammo who would follow three years later to be cast in an American television series entitled Martial Law which ran for two seasons before being cancelled due, despite favorable reviews.

Since then, Sammo has returned to Hong Kong to appear in several high profile films including Legend of Zu, Tsui Hark's loose remake of his own 1983 fantasy epic, Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain. And to prove wrong the rumors of a fallout with Jackie might be final, Sammo has joined his old friend to choreograph the action for Jackie's international blockbuster, The Medallion (2002).

Without a doubt, Sammo Hung has had a tremendously positive impact on Hong Kong's film industry. And by taking on the difficult task of learning a new language and bringing his incredible skills to America, like Jackie, he's become an international ambassador of good will by sharing his talents with many fans around the world.

Filmography:

2005 - SPL (actor)

2004 - Osaka Wrestling Restaurant (actor)

2003 - Red Trousers: The Life of the Hong Kong Stuntmen (himself)

2003 - Cinema Hong Kong: Wuxia (himself)

2003 - The Medallion (action director)

2002 - The Art of Action (documentary)

2002 - Flying Dragon, Leaping Tiger (actor)

2002 - The Hidden Enforcers (actor)

2001 - The Avenging Fist (actor)

2001 - The Legend of Zu (actor)

1997 - Once Upon a Time in China and America (director,action director)

1995 - Don't Give a Damn (producer, director, actor)

1994 - Ashes of Time (action director)

1993 - Painted Skin (actor)

1993 - The Kung Fu Cult Master (action director, actor)

1993 - Blade of Fury (director, action director, actor)

1992 - The Moon Warriors (director)

1990 - Island of Fire (actor)

1989 - Pedicab Driver (director, actor)

1988 - Mr. Vampire 4 (producer)

1988 - On the Run (producer)

1988 - Dragons Forever (director, action director, actor)

1987 - Mr. Vampire 3 (producer, cameo)

1987 - Eastern Condors (director, action director)

1986 - Mr. Vampire II (producer)

1986 - Millionaire's Express (director, actor)

1985 - Heart of the Dragon (director, actor)

1985 - Mr. Vampire (producer)

1984 - Hocus Pocus (producer)

1984 - Wheals on Meals (director, actor)

1983 - Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (actor)

1983 - The Dead and the Deadly (writer, action director, actor)

1981 - The Prodigal Son (writer, director, action director, actor)

1981 - The End of the Wicked Tiger (actor)

1981 - Tower of Death (co-director)

1981 - Encounter of the Spooky Kind (writer, director, action director, actor)

1980 - The Victim (director, action director, actor)

1979 - The Magnificent Butcher (action director, actor)

1979 - Odd Couple (action director, actor)

1979 - Knockabout (director, action director, actor)

1979 - The Incredible Kung Fu Master (actor)

1980 - Filthy Guy (actor)

1978 - Warriors Two (director, action director, actor)

1978 - Dirty Tiger, Crazy Frog (producer, action director, actor)

1978 - Enter the Fat Dragon (director, action director, actor)

1978 - Game of Death (actor)

1977 - Broken Oath (actor)

1977 - The Iron-Fisted Monk (writer, director, action director, actor)

1976 - End of Wicked Tiger (action director, actor)

1976 - Traitorous (actor)

1976 - The Hand of Death (action director, actor)

1974 - The Skyhawk (action director, actor)

1973 - Enter the Dragon (actor)

1973 - The Fate of Lee Khan (action director)

1973 - When Taekwondo Strikes (action director, actor)

1972 - Hapkido (action director, actor)

1972 - Lady Whirlwind (action director, actor)

1972 - Bandits from Shantung (action director, actor)

1971 - The Shadow Whip (extra)

1971 - A Touch of Zen (actor)

1970 - The Twelve Gold Medallions (action director)

1969 - Dragon Swamp (actor)

1966 - Come Drink with Me (action director)

 

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