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Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild - Directors - Michael HUI
許冠文 | HUI Michael

The job of a film director is to tell stories on film. His most important task is to find worthy stories to tell. From my own personal experience, if the story is poor or negligible, no showy techniques or special effects can transform it into a good film. Bad films result from directors who think they can do so.


Michael HUI was born in 1942 in Guangzhou. In 1950, he came to Hong Kong with his parents and brothers. Living in the Diamond Hill squatter area, Hui’s childhood was marked by material hardships. He studied at La Salle College, then attended teacher’s college for a year. He taught at St. Francis Xavier’s College for three years before taking up sociology at United College of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 1968 he joined Television Broadcast and hosted student quiz shows as well as variety shows like Enjoy Yourself Tonight. He also wrote comedy skits. In 1971, he hosted the comedy variety show The Hui’s Brothers Show with his brother Sam Hui, a pop singer, which became a big hit, earning him the nickname “Stone-faced Comic”.

In 1972 he appeared on the big screen for the first time, playing the lead role in The Warlord, directed by Li Han-hsiang, which grossed a respectable $4 million at the box office. He then went on to star in a series of films for Shaw Brothers including The Happiest Moment (1973), Scandal (1974) and Sinful Confession (1974), all of them directed by Li Han-hsiang.

Hui wrote the script for Games Gamblers Play, which he took to Shaw Brothers as a vehicle for him to write, direct and star, and further proposed that the profits be split 50-50. However, there was no precedent at Shaw Brothers for sharing box office with actors or directors, resulting in Hui leaving the company on less than friendly terms. He took his project to Golden Harvest, and produced Games Gamblers Play (1974), starring himself and his brother Sam, with his own company, Hui’s Film Production Co., which grossed over $6 million and broke box office records for both local and Western films at the time. He followed up with The Last Message (1975), which also took the top spot at the box office.

The Private Eyes (1976), featuring another Hui sibling Ricky Hui Kwun-ying in the cast, grossed over $8 million, breaking the record set by Hui the previous year. The Contract (1978) and Security Unlimited (1981) also became box-office toppers, with the latter grossing a record-breaking $17 million. Security Unlimited, with which Hui won Best Actor at the first Hong Kong Film Awards in 1982, was also an overseas success, in such markets as Japan, Taiwan and south-east Asia, making Hui one of the biggest stars of the 1970s.

In 1983, Hui produced and wrote the script for The Trail. He ended his long-standing relationship with Golden Harvest in 1987, and began collaborating with others, such as director Clifton Ko Chi-sum, on Chicken and Duck Talk (1988); and actor-comic Dayo Wong Tze-wah, with whom he made The Magic Touch (1992). His film output decreased in the 1990s as he was unable to find good stories, although he appeared occasionally as actors in such films as Three of a Kind (2004) and Rob-B-Hood (2006).

Michael Hui was elected as president from 1993 to 1997, and now Honorary president of the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild, and had been awarded Justice of the Peace by the British Hong Kong government.

Year Chinese name English name Directors
1992 《神算》
The Magic Touch
1986 《歡樂叮噹》
Happy Ding Dong
1984 《鐵板燒》
1981 《摩登保鑣》
Security Unlimited
1978 《賣身契》
The Contract
1976 《半斤八両》
The Private Eye)
1975 《天才與白痴》
The Last Message
1974 《鬼馬雙星》
Games Gamblers Play