Sammo Hung’s Thoughts on the Future of Hong Kong Movies: “It is Hopeless”

Sammo Hung (洪金寶) is well respected in the Hong Kong entertainment for his talent in choreographing and performing martial arts. For the 43rd Hong Kong International Film Festival, Sammo held a seminar and attracted many fans. There he shared his experience in filming and his thoughts on the state of Hong Kong films.

Choreographing Kung Fu Hustle

The seminar began by broadcasting Sammo’s classic works. As Kung Fu Hustle <功夫> was one of Sammo’s most famous works, the audience asked if Sammo personally designed the fight scenes. Sammo replied, “When the triad came out to fight the group, there was a laborer, a tailor and a person selling fried dough. Remember that scene? I choreographed that scene. There was another scene where there were three masters who decided to leave but they suddenly started fighting on the stairs before bidding farewell. I choreographed that too. I was fired after that.”

Not Hopeful of Hong Kong Films

As Sammo reflected on the future of Hong Kong films, Sammo shared his opinion, “Hong Kong films are hopeless for the next generation. No one films action movies. It’s different back then. There was Jackie Chan ( 成龍) and Sammo Hung to give hope to the younger ones.  People no longer want to learn martial arts after watching martial arts stars.  Without any movies and without any martial arts movies, what’s the point of learning martial arts? After learning martial arts, they will have to sell roast pork buns the next day for a living?”

Noticing that people are opting to join singing competitions instead, Sammo offered his advice, “I hope that the Hong Kong film sector can do more to support local films. Hong Kong films were popular 10 or 20 years ago; now other countries surpassed Hong Kong. It makes my heart ache, but I can’t move, can’t help, and can’t say anything. I don’t attend events because I have a bad temper and will offend someone.”

Continuing to offer his advice, Sammo said, “I discussed with the Director of the Hong Kong Film Development Council earlier. The government spent a lot of money for the opening ceremony and then nothing. Why not continue to invest in Hong Kong films and develop them to change the future of Hong Kong films? Go think about it and let me know.”

Source: HK01

This article is written by Sammi for

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  1. Nobody wants to learn martial arts these days anymore. Not just HK films, anything Chinese and Taiwanese related is not good these days.

    Even though people may have talent, they might only get to be the underpaid stunt men. Only the beautiful plastic people are going to be the rich and famous ones. So of course why not go for singing or dancing and acting?

    In the past, actors who don’t have martial art skills actually put in effort to learn and they can take weeks or months just to film their action scenes.
    Today, just do a few slow motioned punches that add up the minutes. That’s way good enough for an idol.
    There’s just no hope anymore.

    1. @davy Totally agree +100000. Also these days all “actors” look the same these days. The same eyebrows, chin, big eyes, shiny face, etc. Producers/Directors are scared to take risks there days. Actors/Actresses are snobbish and egotistic and not willing to work endure hardship. Heck, the 90s were more progressive than now in films. Censorship is through the roof. Commercialism has taken over.Everything is remake after remake after remake.

      Not just HK films but Chinese Cinema as a whole is in serious decline and it is sad.

    2. >Nobody wants to learn martial arts these days anymore.

      You don’t really need to be a martial artist to make good action movies. Look all those super hero action movies from Hollywood, you just need good script, actors, cinematography and settings. It is those combinations, and not the real martial artists, that make those movies fun and enjoyable.

  2. I also lost hope on HK movies for the last 10 years lmao… story plot are boring, HK movies like HK music its dead!

  3. The 80s and 90s was definitely the golden era for HK for movies and pop culture. Im not even sure what happened to cause its decline.

    Mum keeps complaining that everything thats churned out these days are police and triad dramas and its boring her stiff.

    1. @megamiaow exactly what I was thinking after watching an announcement on a new Louis Koo movie set in jail. Omg. Again?!

    2. >The 80s and 90s was definitely the golden era for HK for movies and pop culture. Im not even sure what happened to cause its decline.

      HK Movies/tv in the 80s and 90s were simple; settings wise, plots wise, actor skill wise and low budge. In spite of all that, HK films/tv flourished simply because of lack of competition. These days, with much more competitions and audiences are more sophisticated, same boring plots, over used actors, boring settings just won’t do it anymore; so HK movies/tv are failing.

      Will HK be able to recapture the golden era like the past? Not likely. Will HK be able to stop the decline? Sure, but it will a lot of change and money.

    3. @megamiaow Actually in the 60s and 70s, HK has good Shaw movies. Even the Shaw Brother Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre and Jet Li’s Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre is better than the recent 2019 Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre.

  4. I also lost the hope of hong kong movies. Its not only the actors, but its also manuscripts and the stories (producers). The Hong Kong movies have soo boring stories, and theres not voltage on the movie.
    I was a very huge fan of TVB series and movies. 1-1,5years ago i lost the hope of hongkong movies and series. So i began to watch korean series and movies. Because theres a lot of people in the WORLD who watching korean series and movies. I have to admit that its actually pretty good! For me, that is the best in the WORLD now! moreover, i hope Hongkong movies and series will get a “grip” on it….

  5. I agree with Sammo too (though he’s not the only one whose made such comments – practically every single veteran HK artist has said the same thing at some point in the past 15 to 20 years). Sammo talks specifically about martial arts films, but it’s actually applicable to the entire film industry (as well as the HK entertainment industry as a whole). One reason (though not the only reason) for the decline was the opening up of the Mainland China market to HK after the handover – that’s when they started having all those Mainland investors injecting money into HK productions, which meant that the productions need to cater to Mainland audience more than HK (and of course, entering the Mainland market meant the productions would be subject to all the censorship rules). Many of those investors were business people or conglomerates who don’t give a rat’s behind about preserving the crafts they were investing in (whether it’s film, television, or music) – as long as what they were investing in made money and they got their return on investment, that’s all that mattered. So what if the scripts were crap and the artists starring in these productions couldn’t act to save their lives? As long as audiences were buying into it and still handing over their money and investors were still able to turn a profit, quality could take a back seat. Just look at director Wong Jing, who is pretty much the poster boy for the current HK film industry – he was one of the first big name HK directors to “kowtow” to Mainland, all his productions are geared toward Mainland audience (he has actually bragged on numerous occasions how he can easily turn a regular script into a “Mainland-friendly” one), and every single movie / TV series he has made over the past 20+ years is a rehash of his old productions, whether it’s script ideas, characters, sometimes even entire scenes lifted verbatim from his previous works, except with different actors in the roles (basically, he has mastered the art of “recycling” his productions). Oh and let’s not forget that he was also one of the people who started the trend of casting pretty faces in production after production regardless of their acting skills (all his famous “Jing Ladies”). I’m not saying he’s the only one of course, but if we’re looking at evolution of the HK film industry (and entertainment industry as a whole), and how things got to the point they are now, he’s probably the best example to bring up.

    1. @llwy12 Hmm, I dont know….certainly China has contributed in recent years, but the decline started long before China became wealthy (china was still developing in the early millenia). Least when I visited 2006 it wasnt as developed as HK yet.

  6. Most of the hong kong directors are already working in China. The Legend of Zu, Taoism Grandmaster and the recent Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre have hong kong directors. The scriptwriter for Taoism Grandmaster is Joey Meng’s husband, also from hong kong.

  7. He’s totally right. Not only martial arts movies but Hong Kong cinema in general. The Mainland filmmarket has contributed alot to this amongst other things but I mainly blame nothing but the HK audiences. They simply don’t care anymore and their lack of support has led to actors, directors, producers, companies etc relocating to the Mainland.

  8. I wish that I could tell The Chinese Movie Industry how much I love Martial Art Films.I own over 500 of them and I still buy more whenever I can. All of my friends feel the same.
    I’m English and I’m amazed by the skill of martial artists.
    I hate fakes. Too much Green screens,CGI,and wirework can ruin a movie.

  9. I love Sammo, Yuen Biao,Jackie Chan and all the other amazing acrobats and martial artists who entertained back in the days when talent was real!

  10. Hong Kong is lack of good artistes, good producers and good scriptwriters. They have the same artistes since early 1990s for the last 19 years ………… such as Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Sean Lau, Nick Cheung, Louis Koo, Tong Leung Ka Fa, Francis Ng, Anthony Wng, etc. All these actors are in their mid 50s. All they can act now are some movies related to triads, police, infernal affairs, detectives. They are typical action movies.

    Personally I don’t enjoy those type of action movies, and I am sure lots of people would like to watch other types of movies in Hong Kong. If the movie fields/themes are so narrow, how can they be not hopeless?

  11. there is good time and there bad time you can’t stand on top forever. talented people come and go you can’t expect there will come a new bruce lee or leslie cheung every year. im blessed that i could see so many good movies, shows and music from so many talented entertainers, actors directors in last 30 years. yes its hopeless now, times has just changed.

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