Simon Handby – 9 Jun 2011
With computers now commonplace in every home, workplace and pocket, Simon Handby traces the development of the technology that changed the world
If you’re a typical Expert Reviews reader, the chances are you use a computer at work, that you’ve got one or two at home, and that there’s more than a handful between your television, games console, car and mobile phone. Computers and computer technology have become an indispensable part of modern life, and their widespread uptake is changing the way we live, but computing for all is still relatively new – and it’s something that many early pioneers didn’t foresee.
The first true computers were electromechanical giants, developed by governments and institutions driven on by the desperate circumstances of the Second World War. Computers remained in the hands of universities, governments and big business for decades after the war’s end, but as the technology improved they became smaller, more affordable and more accessible until they came into our homes and ultimately our pockets. Here we chart the history of computing, telling the story of how such powerful tools have ended up in so many hands.
Most histories of the computer start with the English mathematician and engineer Charles Babbage, whose unfinished ‘analytical engine’ was undoubtedly the first design for what we now think of as a computer: a machine that takes an input, mathematically manipulates it according to a customisable program, and produces an output. Babbage was a true visionary; it’s a somewhat macabre indication of the esteem in which he was held, that one half of his brain remains on display at the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons, and the other at the Science Museum. Still, even his work built on some existing fundamentals.
Mankind had been using machines to aid calculation since at least the appearance of the abacus, thought to date back before 2300BC; but it was in Renaissance Europe that engineers began to produce far more sophisticated calculating devices, some of which had some degree of programmability. In 1801 as the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, Joseph Marie Jacquard invented a weaving loom that could be programmed with punched cards to produce different patterns – the first machine to be given instructions in this way.
The reconstruction of Babbage’s difference engine at the London Science Museum
Babbage sought a way to remove human errors from the mathematical tables available in the early 19th century, devising his mechanical ‘difference engine’ to calculate polynomial functions (a type of algebra equation). Though it was never finished, the first difference engine would have contained more than 25,000 parts and weighed over 13 tonnes. A revised design was completed in 1991 by the Science Museum, and found to work perfectly.
More complex still, and also unfinished, Babbage’s analytical engine added features that define modern computers. It could be programmed with cards, but could also store the results of calculations and perform new calculations on those. Babbage intended to support conditional branches and loops, fundamental to all modern programming languages. His death in 1871 meant that he never finalised his designs for the engine, but his son Henry completed its core computing unit – ‘the mill’ – in 1888.
With computers now commonplace in every home, workplace and pocket, Simon Handby traces the development of the technology that changed the world
While various inventions led to some early analogue, non-programmable calculating machines, the next major advances took place immediately before and during the Second World War, most notably at the Bletchley Park code-breaking site. We looked in detail at Bletchley’s wartime role in issue 272’s feature (on this month’s cover disc if you missed it), but its achievements in unlocking German ciphers were made possible partly by the mathematical genius of the people working there, and partly by the brute-force number-crunching provided by the first true computers.
The brilliant mathematician Alan Turing is acknowledged as the father of computer science, but he’s often wrongly credited with developing Colossus; the world’s first programmable, electronic computer. In fact, Colossus was designed by Tommy Flowers and other Post Office research engineers to replace and improve ‘Heath Robinson’, a mechanical calculating machine used at Bletchley. Entering service in February 1944, the Colossus machines provided the calculating speed and power to rule out impossible Lorenz cipher settings – which hugely sped up breaking messages from the German high command.
ENIAC: huge numbers of valves made wartime computers massive, room-filling affairs
While Colossi operated electronically – their only mechanical system was the tape reader through which encrypted messages were input – their construction would be unrecognisable next to a modern PC. Their huge size was necessary in part due to the use of 2,400 big, hot and power-hungry thermionic valves for circuit switching. Valves were at the heart of other giant computers immediately after the war, with the American Army’s ENIAC ballistics computer having no fewer than 17,468 when it became operational in 1946.
Turing’s cryptographical genius was essential to the successes of Bletchley Park, but for many years after the war the site’s work remained a secret. In 1952 he was prosecuted for then-illegal homosexual acts and ‘treated’ with female hormones, before committing suicide in 1954. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Bletchley’s work, and Turing’s importance to it, became widely known. Gordon Brown’s official governmental apology for the way Turing was treated after the war didn’t come until 2009.
With computers now commonplace in every home, workplace and pocket, Simon Handby traces the development of the technology that changed the world
The next three decades would see numerous inventions and innovations in electronics that would set a pattern for computer technology that continues today: as technology improves, computers increase in complexity, affordability and operational power, while their heat and power consumption fall. Some early milestones included the 1949 invention of random access memory (RAM) and the development in 1952 of the trackball by the Canadian Navy, but computers remained the preserve of governments, universities and large corporations who could afford the hardware and the expert staff to operate and maintain them.
The first trackball works very similarly to today’s examples, although it’s not as ergonomic
One of the single most important breakthroughs happened in 1947, with the building at Bell Labs of the first working transistor – a semiconductor device that can perform the same functions as a valve. Although it was some years before the technology was refined, the first transistor computer appeared in 1953 and heralded the start of a second generation of more sophisticated machines. However, while the first fully-transistorised computer appeared in 1957, a second major innovation at the end of the 1950s would play an equally important role in pushing computers towards the hands of the masses.
While the earliest transistors were self-contained components, smaller than a valve but still challenging to build into a complex device, in 1957 an engineer at Texas Instruments, Jack Kilby, was working on ways to modularise them so that they could be assembled in grids. Kilby subsequently hit on the idea of building multiple components on a single piece of semiconductor substrate – the essence of the integrated circuit (IC). He built the first working IC from germanium, while in 1959 Robert Noyce independently built the first silicon example. Kilby’s discovery proved so revolutionary and important that by his death in 2005 he had received the Kyoto Prize, the Nobel Prize in Physics and had been awarded no fewer than nine honorary doctorates.
By 1962 simple ICs containing just a few transistors were being manufactured in small numbers at high cost and were almost solely used in ballistic guidance systems. However, growing demand helped reduce costs and improve manufacturing processes. Chips came with more and more transistors, by 1965 prompting Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore to coin his famous Law. Originally Moore’s Law said that the number of transistors on a chip would double every year, although he later revised it to a doubling every two years – an estimate that has proved uncannily accurate. By the end of the 1960s, ICs were being mass-produced and the most advanced chips contained hundreds of transistors.
One of the very first computers to use ICs was the Apollo Guidance Computer, introduced into NASA’s Apollo rocket programme in 1966. Weighing more than 30 kilos, the electronic brain that first steered man to the moon had roughly 4k of RAM, 72kB of ROM and ran at just over 1MHz. It comprised 2,800 separate ICs, but by the beginning of the 1970s the first microprocessors arrived – ICs that comprised all the components needed for a computer’s central processing unit. While the costs were still considerable – Intel’s 4-bit 4004 cost thousands of dollars – building a computer was far cheaper than ever before.
In the early 1970s, the falling price and increased availability of ICs made them increasingly available to electronic hobbyists, a small but significant group of people who used available components to build their own electronic devices such as calculators. Several magazines served the community, publishing projects that readers could undertake, discussing technological developments and, in some cases, helping to drive them forward. By 1974, Intel’s 8-bit 8008 microprocessor was within the reach of hobbyists, and the July issue of Radio-Electronics magazine published a project to build the 8008-powered Mark 8, ‘your personal minicomputer’.
Computer magazines have come a long way since 1974
The computer was fairly daunting, and only around 100 of the specially-produced circuit boards were sold, but the project inspired Popular Electronics magazine to take the idea further, commissioning Ed Roberts, the founder of Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), to design a computer in kit form that its readers could buy and build. MITS, established to supply rocketry and calculator kits, was heavily in debt, but what followed not only rescued it; it laid the foundations of widespread personal computing.
It’s hard to overstate the impact of the Altair 8800 and the events of 1975 in the history of personal computing. Launched as a project in the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics, the Altair was available from MITS for $397 in kit form, or $498 preassembled – equivalent to roughly £179 and £224 then, or £1,100 and £1,400 in today’s money. It had an 8-bit Intel 8080 processor and 256 bytes of memory and, optionally, came with a version of the Basic programming language. At a time when only a tiny proportion of society had ever been directly exposed to computers, here was one that people could go out and buy for themselves. Journalist Art Salsburg, who wrote the accompanying editorial, proclaimed: “The home computer is here!”
While MITS had expected to sell 800 or so Altairs in total, they had taken 1,000 orders by the end of February 1975 and had delivered 2,500 computers by the end of May. MITS took on more employees and the Altair’s price went up. While the cheapest versions could be instructed in machine code, the true cost of a ‘Basic-speaking’ computer kit was nearly $1,900 (roughly £5,400 in today’s prices). Even so, in the context of the times the Altair 8800 was an incredible success in its own right, selling more than 10,000 units before MITS sold the design on. Its historical importance goes further. Its version of Basic was coded by Paul Allen and one William Henry Gates III (later known as Bill) and, though marketed as Altair BASIC, it was Microsoft’s founding product.
The influential Altair 8800 home computer
Bill Gates and Paul Allen had been friends since attending school together in Seattle, where Gates first learned to program in BASIC on a mainframe computer. Later, Gates and Allen were temporarily banned from another computer after they were caught exploiting bugs to get more time on the system. With two other students they would later offer to find and fix bugs in the system in return for more time on it. Gates’ colourful youth continued when, asked by his school to write a program that would schedule students’ classes, he added code to make sure his lessons contained mostly female students.
Microsoft isn’t the only company that can trace its history to the mid-1970s, though. At the start of 1975 there were two microcomputer manufacturers in the US, but by the end of the year this had risen to 27, accompanied by a burgeoning industry of software providers and expansion board manufacturers, two magazines, two computer stores and several computing clubs and groups. 1975 saw the first integrated microcomputer; the Sphere, which contained the processor, keyboard and display in a single case and which also had an optional floppy drive.
The following year saw the appearance of more and more companies and pioneering products – among them Apple’s first effort; the hand-built Apple I. Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, Apple was incorporated in 1977, but by then Wayne had already sold his share to Jobs and Wozniak for just $800 (equivalent to less than £3,000 today). In retrospect this doesn’t seem to have been the wisest decision: today Apple is among the world’s largest companies, with assets of more than $75 billion, and profits in 2010 alone of $14 billion.
The explosion in companies and products would continue over the next few years into the 1980s, with new companies springing up and existing electronics companies such as Commodore switching to computer production. Commodore’s PET of 1977, with its integrated keyboard, ‘Datasette’ and display, sold alongside the similar Apple II and Tandy’s TRS-80, which, though less sophisticated, was widely distributed through the electronics chain’s stores.
In the UK, Clive Sinclair’s Science of Cambridge Ltd launched its first microcomputer kit, the MK14, for £40 in 1978. This was followed in February 1980 by the ZX80, which cost under £100 (roughly £320 today) in kit form, but which was also available pre-assembled. It went on to sell 50,000 units before its replacement a year later by the ZX81, which sold an astonishing 1.5 million units.
The ZX81 flew off the shelves back in 1981
While there were many buyers, however, the proliferation of non-compatible systems was far from ideal. Each manufacturer had its own user-base, each running programs that were generally incompatible with other makes and models. This kept the personal computer community fragmented, but it also provided a headache for developers. Michael Shrayer, whose Electric Pencil became in 1976 the first word processor for home computers, reportedly compiled 78 versions to run on the different platforms, operating systems and display capabilities of the time. Even as the ZX81 was enjoying its enormous success, IBM announced a product that would refocus the market, and become the bedrock of personal computing for at least the next 30 years: the IBM Personal Computer.
PC GONE MAD
Founded in 1911, IBM had been instrumental in the development and production of electronic computers since their earliest days, and in 1975 had produced its first desktop microcomputer – the IBM 5100. While this was very expensive, the company wanted to go head-to-head with Commodore, Apple and Atari in the growing market for home sales, and convened a special team to produce something more competitive.
IBM’s first desktop computer – the 5100
With permission to do things quickly and in new ways, the team made a series of decisions that would not only keep costs and time to a minimum, but which also proved fundamental to the computer’s success. They used off-the-shelf components, including Intel’s 8088 processor and a pre-existing IBM monitor and Epson printer, and also settled on an open architecture – documenting the system and encouraging third-parties to produce compatible expansion boards and software. This was a contrast to most other proprietary approaches, and helped ensure that compatible products were available within weeks of the PC’s August 1981 introduction.
IBM’s engineers didn’t fully predict another side of their open approach. With the computer’s circuit schematics and other information available to developers, and with the processor and other key components not exclusive to IBM, the computer was susceptible to being copied. By June 1982, Columbia Data Products had legally reverse-engineered IBM’s BIOS, produced their own copy and begun selling an IBM PC clone – compatible with the same hardware and software as the original, but cheaper.
While this was bad news for IBM, which was powerless to stop a growing number of compatible systems competing with its own, it ultimately helped to establish the PC as the platform for the majority of home computers. It happened slowly, however. The home computer market was strong and diverse in the first years of the 1980s, and at more than $1,500 (roughly £2,200 in today’s money) the original PC was too expensive compared to rivals selling for less than half as much. Though designed as a home computer, it initially only sold well to businesses, with just 13,000 shipped by the end of 1981.
IBM continued to develop the PC, releasing the XT with a 10MB internal hard disk just 18 months later, and the more competitively priced PCjr in November 1983, but other factors would help to pave the way for the platform’s mainstream uptake. Commodore had bought the company that made the chips for its C64 and began an incredible price war that drew in almost all home computer makers. While it helped make the C64 the best-selling home computer model ever, it also destabilised many in the industry and helped precipitate a collapse. By 1984, Atari and Commodore were the only major survivors of the price war and both were in a parlous financial state. Users began to gravitate to IBM PC compatibles and Apple’s Macintosh. By the end of 1984 IBM had sold half a million PCs.
Many PC enthusiasts will be familiar with the way home computing has developed since then. As PC uptake continued and manufacturers tended towards a single, compatible platform, software vendors soon had access to a far wider and less complicated market. This was particularly true when it came to operating systems, the one bit of software that every computer needs. Just as it had with Basic for the Altair 8800, Microsoft got the contract to develop the operating system for the IBM-PC. Although this was distributed as PC-DOS, Microsoft cunningly retained the right to market its own MS-DOS, which it could supply to the growing number of IBM-compatible PCs.
An early photo of Microsoft founders Paul Allen and Bill Gates – courtesy of Microsoft
Microsoft has remained dominant ever since but its operating systems, like the hardware they run on, have continued to evolve. While the PC’s essential architecture remains unchanged, with any modern example theoretically able to run any early program, its subsystems have improved almost beyond recognition. New devices such as optical drives and sound cards have appeared while there have been several generations of data bus, disk interface and video card – each bringing faster speeds.
To date Moore’s Law has held true. While cramming 2,300 transistors onto Intel’s first microprocessor was at the cutting edge in 1971, today’s six-core Core i7 processor has more than a billion transistors – more than half a million times as many. At the same time, better designs and materials mean that modern processors run at far higher clock speeds. Intel’s 4004 ran at a maximum 740KHz and the Apollo Guidance Computer managed 1MHz, but today’s desktops can exceed 3GHz – three thousand times faster.
Improvements in hardware have enabled PCs to run anything from suites of office software through to graphics-rich games, but they’ve become more affordable in real terms too. At the same time, the public has become more computer-literate as computers have become more prevalent in our workplaces and schools. Cheap, compact processors have allowed digital technology to displace earlier standards in photography, music and other media, and our PCs help us edit, store and display the results.
Perhaps the most poignant illustration of the way in which massive computing power has become widely available came in 2007, after a working replica of a Mark II Colossus was completed at Bletchley Park. In a challenge to mark the occasion, enthusiasts were invited to compete against the mighty computer in a recreation of its wartime code-breaking role. German radio and computer enthusiast Joachim Schüth won the challenge; his 1.4GHz laptop decoding the Lorenz-encrypted message in just 46 seconds. The replica Colossus worked perfectly, but it took three and a quarter hours.
Such developments have helped make today’s PCs and Apple Macs truly mainstream objects: according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, 75 per cent of all UK homes owned a computer by 2009. The internet has proven to be one of the most effective drivers of mainstream computer uptake. In 2009, 71 per cent of UK households had an internet connection, but home computers are no longer alone in being able to exploit it.
Games consoles, smart phones and other computerised devices increasingly support wireless networks and access the internet: HTML was originally written (see below) to be platform independent, and more advanced web applications are made possible through application frameworks such as Flash or Java, which provide a standardised environment for more advanced web apps. With these available for a range of devices, the browser, operating system and even the underlying hardware is quickly becoming less important for web users.
What this means is that, while full-sized computers have long faced competition from compact laptops, netbooks and most recently net tops, many of their most popular applications can now be tackled by a high-end smart phone. Larger alternatives such as the iPad and its Android-powered rivals may soon present a serious challenge to our current notion of the home computer. Just as advancing technology made the PC an indispensable tool for the modern home, such advances might ultimately make it obsolete. The future of personal computing might – literally – be in our hands.
MAKING A PACKET – THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE INTERNET
While the invention of transistors, integrated circuits and the move to mass production established the foundations of the personal computer revolution, it’s the internet that has truly unleashed the computers potential. A communication medium so powerful and desirable that it has helped push PC technology into everybody’s homes and beyond. But while mass internet use is a phenomenon of the last decade, the network’s foundations pre-date many of the technologies that made personal computing possible – including even the microprocessor.
ARPANET, the predecessor to the modern internet, as it was in 1973 when the UK got its first connection
The internet’s roots date back to the late 60s, and early work in the US on the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), a computer communications network developed jointly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The goal was to find a way to share information between the users of various computer mainframes. Like established phone systems, data transmissions had previously relied on circuit switching, where an electrical circuit is created between two parties for their exclusive use in exchanging information, but researchers had started considering something fundamentally different.
ARPANET was designed from the start around the concept of packet switching. Instead of information being sent over dedicated point-to-point connections, the network groups data into parcels that are electronically stamped with an address. Data packets are sent into the network and routed to their destination by nodes that read the address and forward the packet appropriately. The key advantage is that a single link can be used to send data concurrently to multiple recipients, with packets from several streams intermingled as necessary.
While the initial ARPANET linked just four nodes, it grew to 13 routers by the end of 1970 and continued to expand steadily. In 1973 the first UK node was added at University College London, and by 1981 there were 213 host computers worldwide. At the same time, the protocols and services used today began to emerge. The first use of email came in 1971, and the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) appeared in 1973. At the end of 1974 the term ‘internet’ was first used as three Stanford University scientists published the specification of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). In 1983 ARPANET was converted to use TCP and Internet Protocol (IP), which still comprise the bulk of internet traffic today.
The next big step occurred in 1990. Tim Berners-Lee, an English research fellow at Switzerland’s CERN nuclear physics laboratory, began a project that would combine the internet and its Domain Name System (DNS) with the idea of hypertext. Working with Belgian Robert Cailliau, Berners-Lee developed the world’s first worldwide web server, serving pages written in HyperText Markup Language (HTML) from Christmas day that year. Incidentally, this ran on a simple workstation computer built by NeXT – a company founded by Steve Jobs after he was forced out of Apple in the mid-1980s.
While the web was originally used only within CERN, Berners-Lee publicised it in August 1991 and made his rudimentary server and browser software freely available for others to download. This decision was one of several that helped the web grow to its current ubiquity: it had been designed from the start to be platform-independent, suiting the variety of computers and operating systems at that time and since. Perhaps most significantly, in April 1993 Berners-Lee persuaded CERN to certify that the technology of the web was in the public domain – free for all to use.
Timeline: This timeline shows how the internet have grown during this years.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Vincent Zhao Wenzhuo (born 10 April 1972), sometimes credited as Vincent Chiu or Chiu Man-cheuk, is a Chinese actor and martial artist. Zhao is best known for playing the Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung in the Once Upon a Time in China film and television series.
1 Early life
2.1 Fong Sai-yuk
2.2 Once Upon a Time in China
3 Personal life
Zhao was born in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, as the youngest of three sons. His father was a martial arts practitioner, and his mother was a professional sprinter, who broke the record for being the fastest female sprinter of Harbin. Under the instruction of his father, Zhao attended martial arts lessons at the age of eight but he never completely devoted himself to his lessons as he was more interested in singing. In the early 1980s, Zhao was sent to a martial arts academy in Harbin and began to train vigorously, where he started to love the sport. He soon became the youngest member of the Harbin wushu team, which was established in 1985. Trained in various wushu techniques, Zhao mastered t’ai chi ch’uan, especially the Chen and Yang styles.
Zhao maintained high academic standards, and in 1990, he was accepted by Beijing Sport University to study martial arts. Throughout his university career, he joined many national championships, winning first place titles and gold medals for the National Junior Championship, the National All-Around Championship, and also the National Martial Arts Championship. He was also qualified to be in China’s national martial arts team, and his classmates gave him the nickname, “Kungfu King”.
In 1992, Hong Kong film producer Corey Yuen went to Beijing Sport University to find a martial artist to play the role of the antagonist for his 1993 film Fong Sai-yuk. Yuen found Zhao through the latter’s instructor and was immediately impressed with Zhao. Initially, Zhao was uninterested, but Yuen insisted on offering him the role because he had “the skill and looks.” After further encouragement from peers and mentors, Zhao accepted the offer and shooting began in the same year. Zhao was often teased for looking too nice and young for the role of the villain, the Governor of Kau-man, but under the instruction of Yuen and other directors, he learned the easiest way to “look evil”. He said,
“The director told me: Chiu Man-cheuk, when you look at people, don’t look at them like how you usually do. You must look at them from the corner of your eyes with your profile facing them. That way, you will look evil.”
During filming, Zhao also enrolled in acting classes for three months. Fong Sai-yuk was released in March 1993 and became a box office hit in Hong Kong, grossing HK$30,666,842.
Once Upon a Time in China
After only a month into the filming of Fong Sai-yuk, contract problems between Tsui Hark and Jet Li caused Li to back out from the fourth installment of the Once Upon a Time in China saga. Tsui met Zhao on the set of Fong Sai-yuk and was impressed with Zhao’s performance that he quickly recruited Zhao to replace Li in playing the role of Wong Fei-hung. Tsui also encouraged Zhao to sign a three-year contract to be a full-time actor, but Zhao rejected the offer, stating that he felt that his education was more important. Zhao continued to devote himself to filming during school vacations for Green Snake (1993) and Once Upon a Time in China IV (1994). During filming for Green Snake, Zhao was hung high up in the air during a stunt with two steel wires supporting him but during an incident one of the steel wires broke and Zhao stated that if the other wire were to also break that he could have lost his life as well. Zhao was ultimately very frightened especially after filming this scene. During the filming of one of the Wong Fei Hung movies, he seriously injured his ankle to the point where it hadn’t healed until the year 2012. He stated that some of the bones in his ankle still hasn’t healed yet and that before this injury he was okay with doing the majority of his stunts even jumping from third or second story high buildings. The injury has also affected his flexibility as well.
Although Once Upon a Time in China IV grossed less in the box office than the first three installments, it was significant enough to continue the franchise with a fifth installment, Once Upon a Time in China V (1995). While shooting a scene, Zhao slipped during a fighting sequence and injured his head. He was rushed to the hospital and got stitches. He recovered quickly and shooting continued after several weeks. Once Upon a Time in China V was Zhao’s last role as Wong Fei-hung in the films, as Jet Li returned for the sixth and last installment, Once Upon a Time in China and America (1997).
Zhao continued playing Wong Fei-hung in the television drama Wong Fei Hung Series, also produced by Tsui Hark. The series was aired on ATV in Hong Kong for two years and received high ratings (although Wong Fei Hung Series: The Final Victory only had moderate ratings).
In 1997, Zhao signed a management contract with China Star, a Hong Kong talent agency, after which he began to work on more films, such as The Blacksheep Affair (1998), Body Weapon (1999) and Fist Power (1999–2000). Many considered him as “the next Jet Li”.
Zhao’s contract with China Star ended in 1999, and he decided to turn his focus to the mainland Chinese market in hope of making more money (probably due to economic differences), working on television series and films such as The Sino-Dutch War 1661, Wind and Cloud and Seven Swordsmen. In 2006, Zhao returned to Hong Kong and began working on The Master of Tai Chi, produced by TVB.
During an interview concerning his career and the transition from movie actor to television actor. He said tactfully “at the beginning of the transition, my heart felt like it was in a uncomfortable state.”
Reviews for Zhao’s performance in television series were mixed, and many criticized him for giving up big productions and the silver screen. Zhao explained:
“I never took professional acting classes. The only thing I could do back then were sports and martial arts. In order to train myself, I must accept more television series to touch up my acting.”
While working on The Master of Tai Chi, Zhao was given a script for a new martial arts film and he accepted the lead role. Zhao signed with Hollywood agency CAA in 2006 with help from Jackie Chan. He was originally selected to play the lead villain in Rush Hour 3, but the role was eventually given to Hiroyuki Sanada. After spending one year and a half in America, Zhao returned to Beijing and went into an obvious physical breakdown. In September 2008 he returned to Beijing to prepare for his next film, True Legend. True Legend opened up to mixed reviews and was a failure at the box office. In April 2010 Zhao joined Sacrifice’s star-studded cast and was only given a minor role.
Zhao starred alongside Yang Mi, Louis Fan, Xu Jiao and Dennis To in the 2012 martial arts fantasy film Wu Dang that was directed by Patrick Leung, written by Chan Khan, and action choreographed by Corey Yuen.
On 19 January 2012, in a press conference held in Beijing, it was announced that Zhao would be starring with Donnie Yen in the film Special Identity. However, on 29 February, Zhao was kicked off the set after having conflicts with Yen.
For the first time, Zhao is acting in an Indian film, Kabali, as antagonist for Indian super star Rajini Kanth.
Since March 1, 2017, Zhao is employed as Health Qigong ambassador.
Zhao graduated from Beijing Sport University in 1994 and decided to remain there as a martial arts instructor. However, due to his busy filming schedule, he only taught classes for three months before resigning.
During his time at Beijing Academy, Zhao signed on for two months of dancing classes and won the National College Dance Championship Competition.
He was once linked with Anita Mui in early 1995 but the pair broke apart in 1996.
Zhao married his girlfriend Zhang Danlu whom he met in 2002 on June 2006, and their daughter, was born in September 2007. In November 2007, Zhao brought his family back to Beijing. At the airport, when interviewed, Zhao said his daughter is named “Rosita”, Chinese name “Zhao Ziyang” (赵紫阳). His daughter shares the same name as the late politician Zhao Ziyang, whose name has been a taboo subject in China since 1989. On 15 July 2011, Zhao’s wife gave birth in Hong Kong to their second son, who is named “Zilong” after the courtesy name of Zhao Yun, a famous general of the Three Kingdoms period.
Zhao also has a son from a previous relationship with a Shanghai college student studying in Canada and a reported pianist at that time. His son, named “Zhao Yuanda” (赵元达), English name “Joseph”, was born in August 2002. The reason for their break up is unknown. In 2004 Zhao Yuanda and his mother moved back to Beijing, where she opened a yoga center in the luxury apartments of Beijing Suburbs.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sammo Hung (born 7 January 1952), also known as Hung Kam-bo (洪金寶), is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film producer and director, known for his work in many martial arts films and Hong Kong action cinema. He has been a fight choreographer for other actors such as Jackie Chan, King Hu and John Woo.
Hung is one of the pivotal figures who spearheaded the Hong Kong New Wave movement of the 1980s, helped reinvent the martial arts genre and started the vampire-like jiangshi genre. He is widely credited with assisting many of his compatriots, giving them their starts in the Hong Kong film industry, by casting them in the films he produced, or giving them roles in the production crew.
Jackie Chan is often addressed as “Da Goh” (Chinese: 大哥; pinyin: dà gē), meaning Big Brother. Hung was also known as “Da Goh”, until the filming of Project A, which featured both actors. As Hung was the eldest of the kung fu “brothers”, and the first to make a mark on the industry, he was given the nickname “Da Goh Da” (Chinese: 大哥大; pinyin: dà gē dà; Jyutping: daai6 go1 daai6), meaning, Big, Big Brother, or Biggest Big Brother.
1 Early years
2 Film career
2.1 1960s and 1970s
4 Film production
4.1 Gar Bo Motion Picture Company
4.2 Bo Ho Film Company Ltd
4.3 D&B Films Company Ltd
4.4 Bojon Films Company Ltd
5 Personal life
6 In popular culture
Hung’s ancestral hometown is Ningbo, Zhejiang. Born in Hong Kong, both of his parents worked as wardrobe artists in the local film industry and guardianship was thrust upon his grandparents. His grandmother was archetypal martial art actress Chin Tsi-ang and his grandfather was film director Hung Chung-Ho.
Hung joined the China Drama Academy, a Peking Opera School in Hong Kong, in 1961. He was enrolled for a period of seven years, beginning at the age of 9, after his grandparents heard about the school from their friends. The opera school was run by Master Yu Jim Yuen and as was customary for all students, Hung adopted the given name of his sifu as his family name whilst attending. Going by the name Yuen Lung, Hung became the foremost member of the Seven Little Fortunes (七小福) performing group, and would establish a friendly rivalry with one of the younger students, Yuen Lo. Yuen Lo would go on to become international superstar Jackie Chan. At the age of 14, Hung was selected by a teacher who had connections to the Hong Kong film industry to perform stunts on a movie. This brief foray into the industry piqued his interest in film and he took particular interest in the operation of film cameras. As the eldest of the troupe, Hung would give his opera school brothers pocket money from his earnings, endearing him greatly to his young friends. Shortly before leaving the Academy at the age of 16, Hung suffered an injury that left him bedridden for an extended period, during which time his weight ballooned. After finding work in the film industry as a stuntman, he was given a nickname after a well-known Chinese cartoon character, Sam-mo (三毛; Three Hairs).
Many years later, in 1988, Hung starred in Alex Law’s Painted Faces, a dramatic re-telling of his experiences at the China Drama Academy. Among the exercises featured in the film are numerous acrobatic backflips, and hours of handstands performed against a wall. Despite some of the more brutal exercises and physical punishments shown in Painted Faces, Hung and the rest of the Seven Little Fortunes consider the film a toned-down version of their actual experiences.
1960s and 1970s
Hung appeared as a child actor in several films for Cathay Asia and Bo Bo Films during the early 1960s. His film debut was in the 1961 film Education of Love. In 1962, he made his first appearance alongside Jackie Chan in the film Big and Little Wong Tin Bar, followed by a role in The Birth of Yue Fei, in which he played the ten-year-old Yue Fei, the historical figure from the Song Dynasty who would go on to become a famous Chinese general and martyr. The majority of Hung’s performance was alongside another actor portraying Zhou Tong, Yue’s elderly military arts tutor. In 1966, at the age of just 14, Hung began working for Shaw Brothers Studio, assisting the action director Han Yingjie, on King Hu’s film Come Drink with Me. Between 1966 and 1974, Hung worked on over 30 wuxia films for Shaw Brothers, progressing through the roles of extra, stuntman, stunt co-ordinator and ultimately, action director.
In 1970, Hung began working for Raymond Chow and the Golden Harvest film company. He was initially hired to choreograph the action scenes for the very first Golden Harvest film, The Angry River (1970). His popularity soon began to grow, and due to the quality of his choreography and disciplined approach to his work, he again caught the eye of celebrated Taiwanese director, King Hu. Hung choreographed two of Hu’s films, A Touch of Zen (1971) and The Fate of Lee Khan (1973).
In the same year, Hung went to South Korea to study hapkido under master Ji Han Jae.
Also in 1973, he was seen in the Bruce Lee classic, Enter the Dragon. Hung was the Shaolin student Lee faces in the opening sequence.
In 1975, Hung appeared in The Man from Hong Kong, billed as the first Australian martial arts film.
Toward the late 1970s, Hong Kong cinema began to shift away from the Mandarin-language, epic martial art films popularised by directors such as Chang Cheh. In a series of films, Hung, along with Jackie Chan, began reinterpreting the genre by making comedic Cantonese kungfu. While these films still strongly featured martial arts, it was mixed with a liberal dose of humour.
In 1977, Hung was given his first lead role in a Golden Harvest production, in the film Shaolin Plot. His next film, released the same year, was also his directorial debut, The Iron-Fisted Monk, one of the earliest martial art comedies.
In 1978, Raymond Chow gave Hung the task of completing the fight co-ordination for the re-shoot of Game of Death, the film Bruce Lee was unable to complete before his death in 1973.
In 1979, Hung directed his second film, the comedy Enter the Fat Dragon, for H.K. Fong Ming Motion Picture Company, also playing the lead role Ah Lung; a character who idolises and impersonates Bruce Lee. Hung has impersonated Lee on film twice more – in the final fight scene against Cynthia Rothrock in Millionaire’s Express (1986), and throughout the 1990 Lau Kar Wing film Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon.
After Jackie Chan’s success with Drunken Master (1978), Hung was scheduled to make a similar film featuring Drunken Master’s “Beggar So” character played by Yuen Siu Tien (aka Simon Yuen). As his elder, Sammo’s films were expected to surpass Chan’s in popularity. The film was Magnificent Butcher (1979), which Hung co-directed with Yuen Woo-ping. However, during filming Yuen Siu Tien died of a heart attack. He was replaced by Fan Mei Sheng and Yuen’s absence may have led to low ticket sales.
As Hung’s fame grew, he used his newly found influence to assist his former China Drama Academy classmates, as well as the former students of “rival” school, The Spring and Autumn Drama School. Aside from regular collaborations with Chan, others such as Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Lam Ching-ying and Mang Hoi also began to make regular appearances in his films.
In 1978 and 1981, Hung made two films that contain fine examples of the Wing Chun style. The first, Warriors Two was the most significant role to date for South Korean super kicker Casanova Wong, who teamed up with Hung in the final fight. The second film was The Prodigal Son, in which the Wing Chun fighting was performed by Lam Ching-Ying. The release of The Prodigal Son, along with another film directed by and co-starring Hung, Knockabout (1979) also shot his fellow Opera schoolmate Yuen Biao to stardom.
Hung’s martial arts films of the 1980s helped reconfigure how martial arts were presented on screen. While the martial arts films of the 1970s generally featured highly stylised fighting sequences in period or fantasy settings, Hung’s choreography, set in modern urban areas, was more realistic and frenetic – featuring long one-on-one fight scenes. The fight sequences from several of these films, such as those in Winners and Sinners (1982) and Wheels on Meals (1985) came to define 1980s martial arts movies.
In 1983, the collaboration between the triumvirate of Hung, Jackie Chan, and Yuen Biao began with Chan’s Project A. Hung, Chan and Yuen were known as the ‘Three Dragons’ and their alliance lasted for 5 years. Although Yuen continued to appear in the films of Hung and Chan, the final film to date starring all three was 1988’s Dragons Forever.
Hung was also responsible for the Lucky Stars comedy film series in the 1980s. He directed and co-starred in the original trilogy, Winners and Sinners (1983), My Lucky Stars (1985) and Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985). These first three films featured Chan and Biao in supporting roles. Hung also produced and played a supporting role in the fourth film, Lucky Stars Go Places (1986), and made a cameo appearance in the sixth and final film, How to Meet the Lucky Stars (1996).
During the 1980s, Hung was instrumental in the creating the jiangshi genre—a “jiangshi” being hopping re-animated corpses – a Chinese equivalent to Western vampires. Two landmark films, Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980) and The Dead and the Deadly (1983) featured jiangshi who move in standing jumps towards their victims, as well as Taoist priests with the ability to quell these vampires (and at times, each other) through magical spells and charms. Hung’s jiangshi films would pave the way for films such as the popular Mr. Vampire (1985), which he also produced, and its sequels. He revitalised the subgenre of female-led martial art films, producing cop films such as Yes, Madam a.k.a. Police Assassins (1985), which introduced stars Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock.
After some relatively poor performances at the domestic box-office, Hung had a dispute with studio head, Raymond Chow. Hung had produced the thriller Into the Fire (1989), but Hung felt Golden Harvest had withdrawn the film from cinemas too soon. The disagreement led to Hung parting company with Golden Harvest in 1991, after 21 years with the company.
Whilst continuing to produce films through his own company Bojon Films Company Ltd, Hung failed to equal his early successes. His fortunes improved somewhat as the helmer of Mr. Nice Guy (1997), a long-awaited reunion with Chan.
In 1994, Hung coordinated the fight sequences in Wong Kar-wai’s wuxia epic, Ashes of Time.
In 1998, US television network CBS began to broadcast Martial Law (1998–2000) on Saturday nights, an action-drama built around Hung. The hour-long shows were a surprise success and installed Hung as the only East Asian headlining a prime time network series. The television series was executive produced and occasionally directed by Stanley Tong, and co-starred Arsenio Hall. Hung reportedly recited some of his English dialogue phonetically.
During 2000–2001, Hung expressed interest in creating a film adaptation of the video game Soulcalibur. The production agreement for the film was made around April 2001 with an estimated budget of $50 million. Hung had the idea of producing a martial arts epic with Chen Lung Jackie Chan in the lead role, but the film was never made. Hung’s plans were detailed on his website, but after a year the announcement was removed. The film rights have since been acquired by Warren Zide, the producer of American Pie and Final Destination.
Hung found renewed success in Hong Kong film industry in the 2000s, beginning with The Legend of Zu (2001), the long-awaited sequel to the 1983 hit Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain. In 2004, Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle was released. Though Yuen Woo-ping was credited for the martial arts choreography on Kung Fu Hustle, Hung actually did the preliminary work but left the film midway through, and Yuen filled in to complete it. Because of his departure from the film, there was tabloid speculation that he and Chow had strong differences over the film, resulting in their separation. Chow has since responded that Hung left for personal reasons and not because of speculated tensions. In 2004, Hung again worked with Jackie Chan, in a brief but notable appearance in Disney’s Around the World in 80 Days as the legendary folk hero Wong Fei Hung, a character played by Chan in the Drunken Master series.
In 2005, Hung was involved in Daniel Lee’s Dragon Squad and Wilson Yip’s SPL: Sha Po Lang (aka Kill Zone). In the latter, Hung played a villain for the first time in over 25 years, and had his first ever fight scene against Donnie Yen. One of the key relationships in SPL had been Hung’s role as the adoptive father of Wu Jing’s character. However, these scenes were dropped from the final film as the director couldn’t find a way to fit them into the film. In response to this, a prequel film was planned. Hung appeared alongside Wu Jing again in 2007’s Twins Mission with stars, the Twins. In early 2008, Hung starred in Fatal Move, in which he and Ken Lo played a pair of rival triad gang leaders. He also starred in, and performed action choreography for, Daniel Lee’s Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon, with Andy Lau and Maggie Q. The film, was based on the book Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Antony Szeto’s film, Wushu, which stars Hung premiered in Beijing in October 2008. The film was unveiled by Golden Network at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Jackie Chan was the film’s executive producer, and worked on the film in an advisory capacity, assisting with marketing and casting. Hung then worked again with director Wilson Yip and star Donnie Yen, as the action director for the 2008 film Ip Man.
In 2010, Hung was given a lifetime achievement award at the New York Asian Film Festival, where four of his films were shown. Hung appears in and choreographed Ip Man 2 (2010). His role is that of a Hung Gar master who challenges Yip Man.
In between films and special appearances, Hung has appeared in several East Asian television series. In 2003 he was in two mainland Chinese series – Undercover Cop with Fan Bingbing, followed by The Valley of Lost Vengeance (aka End Enmity Hollow). More recently, he played a master con-artist in the Taiwanese series Coming Lies and Wing Chun master Wong Wah-bo in Wing Chun, reprising the role he played in The Prodigal Son over 20 years earlier. He co-starred in the series alongside Yuen Biao, Nicholas Tse and his youngest son, Sammy Hung. And was in an episode of Waker Texas Ranger. Hung appeared as a guest judge on the China Beijing TV Station reality television series The Disciple, which aired in mainland China and was produced by, and featured, Jackie Chan. The aim of the program was to find a new star, skilled in acting and martial arts, to become Chan’s “successor”, the champion being awarded the lead role in a film. It concluded on 7 June 2008, with the series winner announced in Beijing.
In another mainland Chinese television series, The Shaolin Warriors, set during the Ming Dynasty, Hung played Big Foot, a Shaolin warrior monk joining General Qi Jiguang’s marines to help defend the nation against Japanese pirates. Sammy Hung also has a role, as Big Foot’s disciple.
Forthcoming film roles for Hung include starring roles in another Daniel Lee film, entitled Duel and in Vincent Kok’s horror comedy, V for Vampire. These will be followed by a co-starring role alongside Bruce Liang in He Who Would Be King produced by Ju Long’s new film studio and Kevin Munroe’s War Monkeys for Dark Horse Indie, a branch of Dark Horse Entertainment. Hung is also expected to work once again with Stephen Chow, playing a role in the director’s forthcoming wuxia comedy film. The film is currently in the script-writing phase and is as-yet unnamed.
Hung has also directed and starred in another martial arts epic entitled Howling Arrow. According to Hung’s official website, it stars Aaron Kwok, Wu Jing, and Zhou Xun and was filmed for Tsui Siu-Ming’s Sundream Motion Pictures. Filming was supposed to begin in 2007, but the film appears to have been delayed indefinitely.
Hung has starred in 75 films, and worked on over 230, beginning as a child actor whilst still attending the China Drama Academy. Upon leaving the opera school, he worked as an extra and stuntman, and progressed through other roles including fight choreographer, stunt co-ordinator, action director, actor, writer, producer and director.
Hung’s is starred in the most recent historic action film God of War (2017).
Gar Bo Motion Picture Company
In 1978 Sammo Hung formed Gar Bo Motion Picture Company, a subsidiary of Golden Harvest, with director Karl Maka and former actor-choreographer Lau Kar Wing (brother of actors Lau Kar-leung and Gordon Liu). The company’s name consists of the “Gar” sound from Lau Kar Wing and Karl Maka (Mak Kar), and “Bo” from Hung Kam Bo.). The company disbanded in 1980, when Maka moved on to form Cinema City & Films Co. with Raymond Wong and Dean Shek. Gar Bo released two films, both starring Hung and Lau:
- Dirty Tiger, Crazy Frog (1978)
- Odd Couple (1979)
Bo Ho Film Company Ltd
1980 saw Raymond Chow pull one of Hung’s films from local cinemas after just two weeks. Hung responded by starting his own production company Bo Ho Film Company Ltd, allowing him to have greater control to produce Hong Kong films. Whilst Bo Ho produced, Golden Harvest still operated as distributors. In all, 40 films were released by Bo Ho, several of which starred Hung:
- Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980)
- Long Arm of the Law (1984)
- Pom Pom (1984)
- Hocus Pocus (1984)
- Mr. Vampire (1985)
- Heart of Dragon (1985)
- Those Merry Souls (1985)
- Lucky Stars Go Places (1986)
- Millionaire’s Express a.k.a. Shanghai Express (1986)
- Paper Marriage (1986)
- Righting Wrongs a.k.a. Above the Law (1986)
- Rosa (1986)
- The Strange Bedfellow (1986)
- Mr. Vampire Part 2 (1986)
- Eastern Condors (1987)
- Mr. Vampire Part 3 (1987)
- The Final Test (1987)
- The Happy Bigamist (1987)
- My Cousin, the Ghost (1987)
- Scared Stiff (1987)
- Sworn Brothers (1987)
- To Err is Humane a.k.a. To Err is Human (1987)
- China’s Last Eunuch a.k.a. Lai Shi, China’s Last Eunuch (1988)
- Mr. Vampire Saga 4 (1988)
- On the Run (1988)
- Picture of a Nymph a.k.a. Portrait of a Nymph (1988)
- One Husband Too Many (1988)
- Blonde Fury (1989)
- Three Against the World (1989)
- A Fishy Story (1989)
- Doctor’s Heart (1990)
- Her Fatal Ways (1990)
- Mortuary Blues (1990)
- Shanghai, Shanghai a.k.a. Shanghai Encounter (1990)
- She Shoots Straight a.k.a. Lethal Lady (1990)
- Queens Bench III (1990)
- The Top Bet (1991)
- Lover at Large (1992)
- Scorpion King a.k.a. Operation Scorpio (1992)
D&B Films Company Ltd
In 1983, Hung co-founded another production company, D&B Films Company Ltd (“D&B” being short for “Duk-Bo”), with Dickson Poon and John Shum. The company operated until 1992 and produced a total of 77 Hong Kong films:
- Hong Kong 1941 (1984)
- The Owl vs Bumbo a.k.a. The Owl vs Bombo (1984)
- The Return of Pom Pom (1984)
- The Island (1985)
- It’s a Drink, It’s a Bomb (1985)
- Mr. Boo Meets Pom Pom (1985)
- Yes, Madam a.k.a. Police Assassins (1985)
- Night Caller (1985)
- Dream Lovers (1986)
- Silent Love (1986)
- Passion (1986)
- Legacy of Rage (1986)
- My Family (1986)
- Pom Pom Strikes Back (1986)
- Conduct Zero (1986)
- In the Line of Duty a.k.a. Royal Warriors (1986)
- Brotherhood (1986)
- From Here to Prosperity (1986)
- The Lunatics (1986)
- Caper (1986)
- Devoted to You (1986)
- On the Red (1986)
- Where’s Officer Tuba? (1986)
- Kiss Me Goodbye (1986)
- It’s a Mad Mad World (1987)
- Porky’s Meatballs (1987)
- The Wrong Couple a.k.a. The Wrong Couples (1987)
- Wonder Women (1987)
- Magnificent Warriors a.k.a. Yes, Madam 3 (1987)
- You’re OK, I’m OK! (1987)
- The Final Victory (1987)
- Easy Money (1987)
- The Gang Don’t Shoot Straight a.k.a. The Goofy Gang (1987)
- An Autumn’s Tale (1987)
- In the Line of Duty 3 a.k.a. Yes, Madam 2 (1987)
- Sapporo Story (1987)
- Heart To Hearts (1988)
- It’s A Mad Mad World 2 (1988)
- Tiger Cage (1988)
- Fury (1988)
- Classmate Party a.k.a. Student Union (1988)
- In the Blood (1988)
- Double Fattiness (1988)
- Vengeance is Mine (1988)
- Keep on Dancing (1988)
- Bless This House (1988)
- Women’s Prison (1988)
- Darkside of Chinatown (1989)
- Happy Together (1989)
- In the Line of Duty 4 a.k.a. In the Line of Duty a.k.a. Yes, Madam 4 (1989)
- Mr. Fortune (1989)
- Unfaithfully Yours (1989)
- It’s A Mad Mad World 3 (1989)
- The Nobles (1989)
- Funny Ghost (1989)
- You Bet Your Life (1989)
- A Bite of Love (1990)
- Love is Love (1990)
- Middle Man (1990)
- Tiger Cage 2 (1990)
- Heart into Hearts (1990)
- BB 30 (1990)
- Brave Young Girls (1990)
- Look Out, Officer! (1990)
- Perfect Girls (1990)
- Vampire Settle on Police Camp (1990)
- Forbidden Arsenal (1991)
- The Perfect Match (1991)
- The Plot (1991)
- Sea Wolves (1991)
- Dreams of Glory, A Boxer’s Story (1991)
- Tiger Cage 3 (1991)
- Black Cat (1991)
- His Fatal Ways (1991)
- Will of Iron (1991)
- Black Cat 2 (1992)
- Heart Against Hearts (1992)
- KillZone (2005)
-The Martial Law(Star Sports)
Bojon Films Company Ltd
In 1989, Hung formed a new production company, Bojon Films Company Ltd. The company produced 5 films, all of which starred Hung:
- Pedicab Driver (1989)
- Encounters of the Spooky Kind 2 (1990)
- Pantyhose Hero a.k.a. Pantyhose Killer (1990)
- Slickers vs. Killers (1991)
- Don’t Give a Damn a.k.a. Burger Cop (1995)
Hung’s star, hand prints and autograph on the Avenue of Stars
- Hung’s grandmother was martial-arts actress Chin Tsi-ang who starred in almost 80 films between 1941 and 2002. His grandfather, a film director and writer, Hung Chung Ho, directed over 40 films between 1937 and 1950.
- Hung’s younger brother, Lee Chi Kit, has worked on almost 40 films, many of which Hung was also involved with. Lee also worked on Hung’s Martial Law series. He works primarily as a supporting actor and action director.
- He has three sons and a daughter, Tin-Ming “Timmy” Hung (洪天明; born 1974), Tin Cheung “Jimmy” Hung (洪天祥; born 1977), Tin Chiu “Sammy” Hung (洪天照; born 1979) and Chao Yu “Stephanie” Hung (洪煦榆; born 1983) with Jo Eun-ok (曹恩玉), whom he grew up with in martial arts training school. He divorced Jo in 1994 and married model and actress Joyce Godenzi in 1995. Godenzi appeared in several of his films including The Haunted Island, Eastern Condors (both 1986), and Paper Marriage (1988) prior to the pair becoming a couple. She also appeared in Mr. Nice Guy (1997).
- Timmy Hung has appeared alongside his father in SPL: Sha Po Lang, Legend of the Dragon, and Kung Fu Chefs, as well as having a recurring role in Sammo’s series, Martial Law.
- Sammy Hung appeared as the nemesis to Nicholas Tse’s character in the 2007 television series Wing Chun, a remake of the original series broadcast in 1994, and the subsequent film Wing Chun. The series also starred Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. Sammy also appeared alongside his father in the film Choy Lee Fut.
- Hung is one of the celebrities honoured on the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong.
Hung is known for his large frame. Despite this, he is a surprisingly agile and formidable martial artist.
- He has a circular scar on the right side of his face, just above his lip. In the early days of his film career, Hung was involved in a street fight outside a Kowloon nightclub, and was stabbed with a broken cola bottle.
- On 5 August 2009, Hung became ill during the filming of Ip Man 2 in the Guangdong province of Foshan. He was admitted to hospital and underwent a heart surgery operation. He was discharged and returned to work within days. He cited a combination of his weight, his love of cigars and long filming hours resulting in fatigue and irregular meals as the cause.
In Popular Culture
- A pop band from Wales named themselves Sammo Hung after the actor.
- Master Elehung Kinpo, from Juken Sentai Gekiranger, is named after him. Coincidentally, Yū Mizushima, the voice actor for Elehung Kinpo, did the dubbing for Sammo Hung.
- A martial artist named Samohan Kinpou is frequently referred to in the anime Negima?!
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Billy Chow (born Chow Bei-lei August 24, 1958 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada), (also credited as Billy Chau and Billy Chow Bei-lei) is a Hong Kong film actor, kickboxer, martial artist, and entrepreneur and is also a keen Boxing and Muay thai practitioner. Chow is the former WKA world kickboxing champion. Chow is perhaps best known for his roles as General Fujita in the 1994 film Fist of Legend, and Wong, Great Kick of the North in the 1996 film Tai Chi Boxer.
1 Kickboxing career
1.1 World Kickboxing Association
2 History and early career
2.2 Retired from acting
World Kickboxing Association
In the 1980s, Chow was the WKA super welterweight kickboxing champion of the world from 1984 to 1986. His final match on November 20, 2007, in which he lost via decision to Akarn Sanehha of Thailand.
History and Early Career
In the 1980s, Chow played an elite soldier in the 1987 film Eastern Condors alongside Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and Yuen Woo-ping. Chow played thugs in two Jackie Chan movies: Dragons Forever in 1988, and Miracles in 1989.
In the 1990s, Chow had roles in three Jet Li movies: Fist of Legend in 1994 as General Fujita, Meltdown in 1995 as Kong, and Dr. Wai in “The Scripture with No Words” in 1996 as Chan / Japanese Embassy Guard. Chow played Jade Tiger’s Brother in the 1995 film Iron Monkey 2 along with Donnie Yen. Chow played Wong, Great Kick of the North in the 1996 film Tai Chi Boxer along with Jacky Wu.
Retired from Acting
On August 26, 2006, Chow retired from acting at the age of 48, after his final film, Dragon in Fury.
Chow currently trains fighters out of Billy’s Gym in Hong Kong, and Frank Lee’s Muay Thai in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Chow Yun-fat, SBS (born 18 May 1955), previously known as Donald Chow, is a Hong Kong actor. He is best known in Asia for his collaborations with filmmaker John Woo in the heroic bloodshed-genre films A Better Tomorrow, The Killer and Hard Boiled; and in the West for his roles as Li Mu-bai in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Sao Feng in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. He mainly plays in dramatic films and has won three Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Actor and two Golden Horse Awards for Best Actor in Taiwan.
In 2014, Chow was the second-highest earning actor in Hong Kong, earning HK$170 million (US$21.9 million).
1 Personal life
5 Video games
6 Awards and nominations
Chow was born in Lamma Island, Hong Kong, to a mother who was a cleaning lady and vegetable farmer, and a father who worked on a Shell Oil Company tanker. Chow grew up in a farming community on Lamma Island, in a house with no electricity. He woke up at dawn each morning to help his mother sell herbal jelly and Hakka tea-pudding on the streets; in the afternoons he went to work in the fields. His family moved to Kowloon when he was ten. At seventeen, he left school to help support the family by doing odd jobs including bellboy, postman, camera salesman and taxi driver. His life started to change after college when he responded to a newspaper advertisement and his actor-trainee application was accepted by TVB, the local television station. He signed a three-year contract with the studio and made his acting debut. Chow became a heartthrob and a familiar face in soap operas that were exported internationally.
Chow has been married twice; first in 1983, to Candice Yu, an actress from Asia Television; the marriage lasted nine months. In 1986, Chow married Singaporean Jasmine Tan. The couple have no children, although Chow has a goddaughter, Celine Ng, a former child model for Chickeeduck, McDonald’s, Toys’R’Us and other companies.
When Chow appeared in the 1980 TV series The Bund on TVB, it did not take long for him to become a household name in Hong Kong. The series, about the rise and fall of a gangster in 1930s Shanghai, was a hit throughout Asia and made Chow a star.
Although Chow continued his TV success, his goal was to become a big-screen actor. However, his occasional ventures into low-budget films were disastrous. Success finally came when he teamed up with director John Woo in the 1986 gangster action-melodrama A Better Tomorrow, which swept the box offices in Asia and established Chow and Woo as megastars. A Better Tomorrow won him his first Best Actor award at the Hong Kong Film Awards. It was the highest-grossing film in Hong Kong history at the time, and set a new standard for Hong Kong gangster films. Taking the opportunity, Chow quit TV entirely. With his new image from A Better Tomorrow, he made many more ‘gun fu’ or ‘heroic bloodshed’ films, such as A Better Tomorrow 2 (1987), Prison on Fire, Prison on Fire II, The Killer (1989), A Better Tomorrow 3 (1990), Hard Boiled (1992) and City on Fire, an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.
Chow may be best known for playing honorable tough guys, whether cops or criminals, but he has also starred in comedies like Diary of a Big Man (1988) and Now You See Love, Now You Don’t (1992) and romantic blockbusters such as Love in a Fallen City (1984) and An Autumn’s Tale (1987), for which he was named best actor at the Golden Horse Awards. He brought together his disparate personae in the 1989 film God of Gamblers (Du Shen), directed by the prolific Wong Jing, in which he was by turns suave charmer, a broad comedian and an action hero. The film surprised many, became immensely popular, broke Hong Kong’s all-time box office record, and spawned a series of gambling films as well as several comic sequels starring Andy Lau and Stephen Chow. The often tough demeanor and youthful appearance of Chow Yun-Fat’s characters has earned him the nickname “Babyface Killer”.
Chow Yun-fat at the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End in 2007
The Los Angeles Times proclaimed Chow Yun-Fat “the coolest actor in the world”. In the mid ’90s, Chow moved to Hollywood in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to duplicate his success in Asia. His first two films, The Replacement Killers (1998) and The Corruptor (1999), were box office disappointments. In his next film Anna and the King (1999), Chow teamed up with Jodie Foster, but the film suffered at the box office. Chow accepted the role of Li Mu-Bai in the (2000) film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It became a winner at both the international box office and the Oscars. In 2003, Chow came back to Hollywood and starred in Bulletproof Monk. In 2006, he teamed up with Gong Li in the film Curse of the Golden Flower, directed by Zhang Yimou.
In 2007, Chow played the pirate captain Sao Feng in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. However, his part was omitted when the movie was shown in mainland China, where government censors felt that Chow’s character “vilified and humiliated” Chinese people.
In the poorly received film Dragonball Evolution, Chow Yun-fat played Master Roshi.
In 2014, Chow returned to Hong Kong cinema in From Vegas to Macau. For the part, he lost 13 kg within 10 months.
In October 2014, Chow supported the Umbrella Movement, a civil rights movement for universal suffrage in Hong Kong. His political stance eventually resulted in censorship by the Chinese government.
In February 2015, Chow reprised his role as Ken in the sequel From Vegas to Macau II. He was paid 5 million USD (39 million HKD) for the film.
On 26 June 2008, Chow released his first photo collection in Hong Kong, which includes pictures taken on the sets of his films. Proceeds from the book’s sales were donated to Sichuan earthquake victims. Published by Louis Vuitton, the books were sold in Vuitton’s Hong Kong and Paris stores.
Chow has appeared in over 121 films and 24 television series.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (video game)
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (video game)
Awards and Nominations
Hong Kong Film Awards
- Best Actor Nomination for Hong Kong 1941
- Best Actor Nomination for Women
- Best Supporting Actor Nomination for Love Unto Waste
- Best Actor for A Better Tomorrow
- Best Actor Nomination for Prison on Fire
- Best Actor Nomination for An Autumn’s Tale
- Best Actor for City on Fire
- Best Original Film Song Nomination for The Diary of a Big Man
- Best Original Film Song Nomination for Triads: The Inside Story
- Best Actor Nomination for God of Gamblers
- Best Actor for All About Ah-Long
- Best Actor Nomination for Once a Thief
- Best Actor Nomination for Treasure Hunt
- Best Actor Nomination for Peace Hotel
- Best Actor Nomination for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
- Best Actor Nomination for Curse of the Golden Flower
- Best Supporting Actor Nomination for The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
(13 Best Actor nominations, 2 Best Supporting Actor nominations, 2 Best Original Film Song nominations)
As of 2016, Chow’s net worth stands at US$80 million. Chow also said he would donate 99% of his wealth to charity via setting up a foundation to help the needy.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Huang Shengyi (Chinese: 黄圣依, born 11 February 1983), also known as Eva Huang, is a Chinese actress and singer.
3.2 Television series
Huang was born and raised in Shanghai. Her father was educated in the United States and lived there in the early 1990s, while her mother worked as an editor in a newspaper agency in Shanghai. She graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 2001.
Eva Huang rose to fame after starring in Stephen Chow’s action comedy film Kung Fu Hustle (2004). Kung Fu Hustle took a record 155 million Yuan at box offices across the Chinese mainland, making it China’s top grossing film in 2004. In August the following year, she ended her contract with Chow’s company after appearing in a magazine photo shoot without their consent.
Huang then starred in Dragon Squad (2005), which received critical acclaim and was among the first films to be listed in the permanent collection by the National Museum of China.
Starting in 2006, Huang worked with China Juli Group on a number of television series, including Fairy Couple (2007) and The Shadow of Empress Wu (2007). Fairy Couple was the highest rated drama of the year, and led to increased recognition for Huang. She also starred in the television adaptation of Louis Cha’s novel Sword Stained with Royal Blood.
In 2008, Huang released her first solo album, titled Huang Shengyi.
In 2009, Huang became the CEO of China Juli Group’s Entertainment Media Co., Ltd, drawing a six-figure salary annually. The same year, she appeared in a minor role in th Hollywood science fiction film Race to Witch Mountain.
In 2011, Huang starred alongside Jet Li and Raymond Lam in The Sorcerer and the White Snake where she played the White Snake Demon. She then starred in The Locked Door (2012), a film which tells about the life story of a girl from noble family, who was raped at young age. The film won the Best Feature at the Monaco Charity Film Festival.
In 2013, Huang starred in the romance drama Marriage Rules. This is the first production created by Huang’s own studio, and it was a commercial and ratings success.
In 2014, Huang starred alongside Donnie Yen in the action comedy film Iceman, which won her the Best Actress award at the Huading Awards for her performance.
In 2015, Huang was cast in the war epic film The Bombing.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Stephen Chow Sing-chi (Chinese: 周星馳, born 22 June 1962) is a Chinese film director, actor, producer, political adviser of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and martial artist.
Eva Huang, also known as Huang Shengyi, plays a mute girl whom Sing tries to help when they were both children.
1 Film career
Chow began his career as a temporary actor on television. He graduated from TVB’s acting classes in 1982. Chow began to find some success with the children’s programme 430 Space Shuttle. In 1987, Chow entered the movie industry through the film Final Justice, which won him the Taiwan Golden Horse Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Chow shot to stardom in The Final Combat (1989) and All for the Winner (1990). Fight Back to School (1991) became Hong Kong’s top-grossing film of all time. In 1994, he began directing films, starting with From Beijing with Love. In the later half of the 1990s, China began to warm to Chow’s films and he became a pop-culture phenomenon.
In 2001, his film Shaolin Soccer grossed over US$50 million worldwide. Chow won Best Director and Best Actor at the 2002 Hong Kong Film Awards, and the film went on to garner additional awards including a Blue Ribbon Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and the Golden Bauhinia Award for Best Picture and Best Director.
In 2004, his film Kung Fu Hustle grossed over US$106 million worldwide. Chow also won Best Director at the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards and Best Picture of Imagine Film Festival as well as twenty international awards.
Chow’s film CJ7 began filming in July 2006 in the eastern Chinese port of Ningbo. In August 2007 the film was given the title CJ7, a play on China’s successful Shenzhou manned space missions—Shenzhou 5 and Shenzhou 6. CJ7 became the highest-grossing film of all time in Malaysia.
In 2013, Chow’s film Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons became the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time.
In 2016, his new film The Mermaid broke numerous box office records: Biggest opening day, biggest single day gross after its seventh day of release, biggest opening week of all time in China. On February 19th, it became the highest grossing film of all time in China.
The Mermaid was released in Vietnam on February 10th, 2016. On March 14th, it became the 3rd highest grossing film of all time in Vietnam. It has now grossed over US$555 million worldwide and is the highest grossing movie of all time in Asia.
Stephen Chow became the ninth top-grossing Hollywood Director of 2016.
Unknown Facts About Kung Fu Hustle
While casting Sing’s love interest Fong, Chow stated that he wanted an innocent-looking girl for the role. Eva Huang was chosen from a pool of 8,000 girls.
Eva Huang, also known as Huang Shengyi, plays a mute girl whom Sing tries to help when they were both children. Huang was a TV actress until then and Kung Fu Hustle was her film debut. When Chow was asked why he cast her, he replied that he enjoyed working with new actors and he “just had a feeling about her.” Huang chose not to have any dialogue so that her character could stand out through her gestures and body language.
The name “Pig Sty Alley” is a play on the name of the Walled City of Kowloon in Chinese. The city was a Chinese enclave in Hong Kong and well-known as a breeding ground of crime, slums, and disorder through most of the 20th century.
The Walled City was originally a Chinese military fort and became an enclave when China leased the New Territories to Britain in 1898. During World War II following the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, the city’s population dramatically rose, becoming 50,000 residents within 2.6 hectares (6.4 acres) by 1990. From the 1950s to 1970s, the Walled City had high rates of prostitution, drug abuse, and gambling and was controlled by local triads. The Hong Kong government announced plans to demolish it in January 1987. Following a laborious eviction process, demolition began in March 1993 and ended in April 1994. It was turned into Kowloon Walled City Park which opened in December 1995.
Kung Fu Hustle surpassed Chow’s previous film, Shaolin Soccer, becoming the highest-grossing movie made in Hong Kong in 2005. It was also the highest-grossing foreign language film in North America, even gaining a cult following.
After opening in Hong Kong on December 23, 2004, Kung Fu Hustle earned HK$ 4,990,000 on its opening day. It stayed on top until early 2005 grossing a total of HK$ 61.27 million. In the US, it initially released as a two-week theatrical run in New York City and Los Angeles. After its success, it was soon released in 2,503 cinemas, the highest number of cinemas ever for a foreign language movie. Though not a blockbuster, Kung Fu Hustle became the highest-grossing foreign language movie in North America in 2005.
“Pig Sty Alley” was inspired by Chow’s own childhood memory of crowded apartment complexes in a Hong Kong slum neighborhood where he lived.
In the movie, the “Pig Sty Alley” is an impoverished place where you find all kinds of characters including retired Kung Fu masters who took up humble jobs to get on with life. Designing the alley was Stephen Chow’s first priority as it was the main location in the film. In an interview with the Observer, he stated that he was inspired by his own childhood memories of crowded, Hong Kong, slum neighborhoods.
Stephen Chow is a self-trained Kung Fu practitioner. He is a great fan of Bruce Lee and learned martial arts by imitating what he saw in the movies.
Stephen Chow credits Bruce Lee for inspiring him to become a martial arts practitioner and an actor. Though he did attend Kung Fu classes in school for a short time, he couldn’t continue it because of his financial situation. So, instead, he would watch Bruce Lee’s movies and imitate the moves and exercises. Like Bruce Lee, he picked Wing Chun style.