Shum Wai was born in 1951 and began acting in films in the 1970s, toiling in the industry for years before serving notice with his performance in the crime thriller Long Arm of the Law (1984), for which he was named Best Supporting Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Yet, stardom eluded him, and he remained a character actor, often appearing as villains.
He had also worked in producing and scriptwriting, as well as serving as assistant director on the action films City Warriors (1988) and Fury (1988), both directed by the actor-director Johnny Wang Lung-wei.
Soon after, Shum directed and produced his first film, the gangster picture Triad Story (1990), in which he also acted. He followed that by directing two more films the next year. In the mid-1990s, Shum briefly joined TVB, appearing in several series. He withdrew from film in the 2000s.
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