Sammo Hung entered the film industry in the late 1960s as a stuntman and extra, and has since appeared in nearly 200 movies, as well as directing 32


The illustrious career of the actor known as Big Big Brother has encompassed a wide range of styles and genres. We rank his 10 best films, from good to great


Sammo Hung Kam-bo is one of the hardest-working filmmakers in the history of Hong Kong cinema.


Known as “Big Big Brother” (so as not to be confused with “Big Brother” Jackie Chan), Hung trained in Peking Opera at the China Martial Arts Academy alongside Chan, where he was sometimes hired out to movie productions as a child actor. He entered the film industry around 1967 as a stuntman and extra, and worked his way up to martial arts choreographer at Shaw Brothers before signing with Golden Harvest in 1970.


Below we rank Big Big Brother’s 10 best films, from good to great.


10. Encounter of the Spooky Kind (directed by Sammo Hung, 1980)


A big Christmas hit when it was released in 1980, Encounter of the Spooky Kind launched a slew of kung fu horror comedies, and set the tone for the popular Mr Vampire series that Hung was to produce later in the mid-1980s.


One of the highlights of the film is its final scene of “spiritual kung fu”, in which two rival fat si – Taoist priests from the magically inclined Maoshan sect – duel by taking over the bodies of Hung and his adversaries.


9. Hapkido (dir. Huang Feng, 1972)

第九名:《合气道》(导演Huang Feng, 1972)

When Hung signed with Golden Harvest in 1970, after working as a stuntman and choreographer for Shaw Bros, the studio promised it would give him greater prominence both behind and in front of the camera. Hapkido, which he both choreographed and acted in, was one of the results.


A tubby Hung moves fast, and plays his role straight, without a hint of humour. Hung had already learned a little hapkido as a child at the China Drama Academy, but Golden Harvest sent him and Mao to Korea to train, with impressive results.


8. Eastern Condors (dir. Sammo Hung, 1987)


The ensemble cast features many of Hung’s compatriots from the 1980s, including Yuen Biao, Lam Ching-ying and Yuen Woo-ping. As with Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now , Hung used the Philippines as a stand-in for Vietnam.


7. Magnificent Butcher (dir. Yuen Woo-ping, 1979)


Hung portrays real-life martial arts master Lam Ting as Wong’s cheeky student. The beggar role was intended for Yuen Woo-ping’s father, Yuen Siu-tien, who played the popular Beggar So role in Drunken Master , but he died at the start of the shoot, and was replaced by Fan Mei-sheng.


6. Painted Faces (dir. Alex Law, 1988)


Hung shows he can genuinely act, and there are some touching performances by Hung’s friend Lam Ching-ying, as a stuntman who can’t quite make the grade, and martial arts legend Cheng Pei-pei as an opera performer who falls in love with the reticent Master Yu.


5. Ip Man 2 (dir. Wilson Yip Wai-shun, 2010)


Hung had choreographed the hit Ip Man , and returned for the sequel to appear in front of the cameras as well – because, as he has joked, producer Raymond Wong Pak-ming agreed to pay him to act this time.


Hung was taken ill with a heart condition during the shoot and had to have an operation before returning to finish the film. The martial arts choreography is fun to watch and has an old-school flavour, although it was tough enough for Hung to receive a minor face wound during the bout with Shahlavi.


4. Knockabout (dir. Sammo Hung, 1979)


Developed as a vehicle to turn Yuen Biao into a star, Knockabout has Yuen play a con man training with an invincible master (Lau Kar-wing) who turns out to be a psychopath. The first hour is leavened with slapstick, but the last 30 minutes are pure combat. The early martial arts scenes may be acrobatic and jovial, but the showdown between Lau, Yuen and Hung, who plays a beggar, is relentlessly hard-hitting.


3. Pedicab Driver (dir. Sammo Hung, 1989)


Pedicab Driver, released in 1989, marked the end of Hung’s most successful decade. Once again, the story and the jokes are crude, but the martial scenes are impressive.


Directed and choreographed by Hung, the movie sees him play a pedicab driver in Macau who takes on a vicious brothel owner. The martial arts scenes are thinly scattered, with three stand-out sequences – a battle in a casino with Lau Kar-leung, a mass fight between two rival gangs of pedicab drivers, and a final showdown in a house of ill repute.


2. Warriors Two (dir. Sammo Hung, 1978)


This 1978 film, which Hung directed and had a supporting role in, mixes tragedy and humour to good effect. The film’s focus is again on Wing Chun kung fu, and it’s perhaps still the purest examination of the style in a martial arts movie.


1. The Prodigal Son (dir. Sammo Hung, 1981)


A firm favourite with fans of martial arts movies, The Prodigal Son features some carefully crafted old-school martial arts sequences, although there is no shortage of blood and guts.


A complex plot features Yuen Biao as Leung Jan, a character based on a notable real-life 19th-century Wing Chun practitioner – a privileged youth who wins all his fights because his rich father has ordered everyone to lose to him. When Leung finds out he has been duped, he pesters Wing Chun expert Leung Yee-tai (Lam Ching-ying) – the real-life “kung fu king of Foshan” – to teach him properly.


Hung, who directed, choreographed, and co-scxted the film, has an extended cameo as grumpy martial arts master Wong Wa-bo, also a real personage.


In this regular feature series on the best of Hong Kong martial arts cinema, we examine the legacy of classic films, re-uate the careers of its greatest stars, and revisit some of the lesser-known aspects of the beloved genre.