I truly appreciate the Hong Kong of the 1980s, an environment full of opportunities and respectful of creativity. In those days, as long as the work has new content or style, even fellow competitors would offer praise and encouragement. Young newcomers to the industry such as myself learned and thrived in this environment, which also nurtured many filmmakers.
Clifton Ko Chi-sum was born in 1958 to a family that originated in Zhongshan, Guangdong. Upon graduation from Kwun Tong Maryknoll College, he joined Rediffusion (Hong Kong) Television as a scriptwriter, and contributed to such series as Crocodile Tears (1978), Chameleon (1978) and Chameleon II (1979). Four years later, he joined Television Broadcast Limited (TVB) and worked under Clifford Choi and Feng Tsui-fan as assistant director. He left TVB in 1980 and wrote the scripts as well as serving as assistant director on director Choi’s No U-Turn (1981) and Teenage Dreamers (1982). He also wrote a number of comedies for Cinema City, including Till Death Do We Scare (1982), Play Catch (1983) and Esprit D’amour (1983).
In 1984 he made a splash with his first feature, the supernatural youth comedy The Happy Ghost, which cost $1 million to make and grossed over $17 million. He then followed up with Merry Christmas (1985), Happy Ghost II (1985) and Devoted To You (1986), before switching to D & B Films to make Chinese New Year releases such as It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World (1987) and It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World II (1988). He also acted as line producer to such films as My Family (1986) and Legacy of Rage (1986). Seeking creative breakthrough, he teamed up with Micheal Hui to make Chicken and Duck Talk (1988) and Mr. Coconut (1989), and collaborated with Sammo Hung on The Gambling Ghost (1991) and Daddy, Father, Papa (1991). He founded Ko Chi Sum Productions in 1989, which produced The Wild Ones (1989), How To Be A Millionaire (1989) and City Squeeze (1989). His All’s Well End’s Well (1992), All’s Well End’s Well, Too (1993) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1994), Chinese New Year releases made over three consecutive years, achieved tremendous success, with All’s Well End’s Well grossing a record-breaking $48 million.
In 1994 he caused a sensation when he used $3 million to turn the stage musical I Have a Date With Spring to screen, grossing over $20 million. He followed up with a series of films based on stage dramas, including One of the Lucky Ones (1995), The Umbrella Story (1995) and The Mad Phoenix (1997). He received a Golden Horse Award Best Director nomination for The Mad Phoenix.
Ko formed The Spring-Time Group in 1995 and devoted himself to stage productions. I Have a Date With Spring and The Mad Phoenix had since been revived numerous time, breaking box office records. In 1999 he persuaded Chan Po-chu to come back from semi-retirement to perform in the stage play A Sentimental Journey, which played over 100 shows, attracting an audience of over 120,000. In 2012, he started to host a cultural show on ATV called Director Ko’s Blog, and in 2013 he hosted a show about old Cantonese films entitled Those Were the Days.
Ko was the second president of the Hong Kong Screenwriters Guild, and is now its honorary president. In 2013 he was conferred the honorary title of University Fellowship by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
|Year||Chinese name||English name||Directors|
||We are Family||LO Kim Wah|
||Winner Takes All|
||The Mad Phoenix|
||Hong Kong Adventure|
||The Umbrella Story|
||It's a Wonderful Life|
||I Will Wait For You|
||I Have a Date With Spring|
||One of the Lucky Ones|
||All's Well End's Well, Too|
||Laughters of "Water Margins"|
||All's Well End's Well|
||It's a Mad Mad Mad World Too!||SUNG Ho Fai Francis|
||It's a Mad Mad Mad World Too||SUNG Ho Fai Francis|
||The Banquet||CHEUNG Kin Ting Alfred CHEUNG Tung Joe TSUI Hark|
||The Gambling Ghost|
||Daddy, Father, Papa|
||Happy Ghost IV|
||How to Be a Millionaire||WONG Raymond|
||It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World II|
||Chicken And Duck Talk|
||It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World|
||Devoted To You|
||Happy Ghost II|
||The Happy Ghost|