[ Back ]Sammo Hung Kam-bo (frequently spelled Samo) was born on January 7, 1952 in Hong Kong. He is probably most famous to American fans as the "chubby one" from all those Jackie Chan films. Sammo's parents both worked in the movies and he was left in the care of his grandparents. When Sammo as a boy saw children training in Peking Opera he was impressed.
He begged his parents to let him learn, so his parents enrolled him in Sifu Yu Jim Yuen's Peking Opera School in 1960. Sammo became the foremost member of the famous "Seven Little Fortunes Troupe" (which actually consisted of 14 members) and was called "Big Brother". He is still referred to this name even to this day.
The group was made up of Yuen Chu (Sammo), Yuen Lau (Jackie Chan; who arrived after Sammo), Yuen Biao, Yuen Kuei (aka action director Cory Yuen Kwai), Yuen Wah, Yuen Mo, Yuen Choi (Ng Ming Choi), and Yuen Tak. As you can see they all adopted the name Yuen out of respect to there Sifu. Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah still use the names to this day. The harsh surroundings of the school were detailed in the film PAINTED FACES (1988) in which Sammo plays the real life Sifu. Sammo was the first of the "fortunes" to obtain success in the movie business.
Throughout the 1970's he co-starred, starred in, directed, and provided fight choreography to some of the best martial arts films from Golden Harvest Films, to whom he was contracted in 1970. Frequently cast as the heavy in these films, ala HAND OF DEATH (with an early role from Jackie Chan) and THE BANDITS FROM SHANTUNG. Sammo in my opinion is one of the only kung fu film stars to successfully cross over from playing bad guys, to playing big loveable good guys. When was the last time you saw him playing a bad guy(?).
In 1978 he formed the film company GAR BO FILMS with Karl Maka and Law Kar-wing (younger brother to mega talented Lau Kar Leung.) And that started a career in producing. The company later disbanded when Karl Maka formed Cinema City. Sammo had already started 2 other production companies BOHO and BOJON FILMS.
THE 3 BROTHERS - Jackie, Sammo and Yuen Biao were the most popular film troupe of the 80's, starring in such classics as WINNERS AND SINNERS (1983)(the first), PROJECT A (1984), WHEELS ON MEALS (also 1984), and DRAGONS FOREVER (1988)(the last). Along the way they "starred" in other romps like the LUCKY STARS films: MY LUCKY STARS (1985), and TWINKLE, TWINKLE LUCKY STARS (1986), not really though, because Jackie Chan's involvement in these was minimal.
Jackie Chan had achieved what the others hadn't; international stardom. Films such as PROJECT A and POLICE STORY cemented Jackie as a major star in countries other than Asia. This has been blamed as the groups downfall. The breakup occurred after the film DRAGONS FOREVER, there was reported strife during the making of that film. Even with the breakup one could not see a slow down in Sammo's film output. He has worked on over 100 films(!) in his career, and he is still at it.
Sammo worked again with Jackie Chan for THUNDERBOLT (1995), providing the films action choreography. And more recently on MR. NICE GUY (1996), which Sammo directed!! It seems Sammo is hitting the big time with his directing, even helming the new Jet Li film ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA & AMERICA, Wow! He is reportedly trying to make a name for himself in Hollwood!? All the best of luck to ya Sammo!!!!