|Chinese name||許冠文 (traditional)|
|Chinese name||许冠文 (simplified)|
|Pinyin||Xǔ Guànwén (Mandarin)|
|Jyutping||heoi2 gun3 man4 (Cantonese)|
3 September 1942 |
Panyu, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
Michael Hui Koon-Man (Chinese: 許冠文) is a Hong Kong comedian, scriptwriter and director. He is the eldest of the four Hui brothers (together with Ricky, Sam, and Stanley) who remain three of the most prominent figures in the Hong Kong entertainment circle during the 1970s and the 1980s. Hui is considered by many critics to be the foremost comedian in the Hong Kong film industry before Stephen Chow.
Life and works
He studied in La Salle College, and then earned a degree in sociology from the United College, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Michael remains one of the very few Hong Kong film artistes who holds a non-honorary degree from a university.
After a spell hosting quiz shows on TVB, Hui gained popularity in the Hong Kong entertainment industry with his variety show stints in the Hui Brothers Show. He then moved from television to film. Hui's first work was in a film by Taiwanese director Li Han-Hsiang called The Warlord (大軍閥 or "The Great Regime", 1972), where he played a farcical warlord in post-revolutionary China.
In 1974, he set up his own film company, the Hui Brothers Company, with Golden Harvest, with his brothers Ricky and Sam. Between 1974 and 2000 he was involved in over 20 films, mostly as actor and scriptwriter.
The earliest Hui comedies combined episodic gags with the comedic appeal of Michael and his brothers. This usually involved the trio of actors—Michael, Sam and Ricky—pitting their wits against the odds to earn quick bucks and their livelihood. Set in modern-day Hong Kong, with upbeat soundtracks performed by Sam himself, these works became wildly popular amongst the working classes in the 1970s and early 1980s. Games Gamblers Play (1974), The Private Eyes (1976), The Contract (1978) and Security Unlimited (1981) – the last of which won him the first Hong Kong Academy Best Actor award – are often seen as the quintessential comedies made by the company. Games Gamblers Play was a huge success when first released and paved the way for Cantonese movies to hold their own against the colonial trend of Mandarin production.
After a breakup with his brothers in the early 1980s, Hui developed a new brand of satirical comedy, one which capitalized on his deadpan comic timing, using a more character-driven storyline. Some of his more renowned works came during this period in the 1980s. Hui frequently acted out the archetypal "ne'er-do-well" driven on by a cash-mad Hong Kong society. Equally caustic and funny, they are set against the backdrop of present-day Hong Kong consumerism. He would make a rare North American film appearance as the Subaru mechanic/engineer with Jackie Chan in the Burt Reynolds comedy The Cannonball Run. In Inspector Chocolate (1986), he plays a chocolate-eating inspector who must solve a kidnap case while his subordinate is involved in a Miss Hong-Kong pageant. In Chicken and Duck Talk (1988), opposing restaurateurs come to blows to secure profits. Front Page (1990), which reunited the three brothers, lampoons the Hong Kong press, while The Magic Touch (1991) satirizes the Chinese obsession with fortune-telling and wealth. Always on my Mind (1993) continues in this vein of self-deprecating humour: Hui plays the head of a family, a news anchor, who will stop at nothing to grab money.
Hui continued acting and producing his own comedies, at a less prolific rate, in the 1990s and 2000s. Chinese Box (1997), directed by Wayne Wang, remains Hui's only starring film in the West. One of his most recent movies is the action-comedy Rob-B-Hood, starring alongside Jackie Chan and Louis Koo. He plays a talented safe-cracker who kidnaps a baby for money from Triads, but is kind-hearted and dignified. In 2006, he became the host of the quiz show Deal or No Deal.
- The Bounty (2012)
- Rob-B-Hood (2006)
- Three of a Kind (2004)
- Fantasia (2004)
- Funny Business (2000)
- Chinese Box (1997)
- Wealthy Human Realm (1995)
- Always on My Mind (1993)
- The Magic Touch (1992)
- Hero of the Beggars (1992)
- The Banquet (1991)
- Front Page (1990)
- Mr. Coconut (1989)
- Chicken and Duck Talk (1988)
- Inspector Chocolate (1986)
- Happy Din Don (1986)
- Mr. Boo Meets Pom Pom (1985)
- Teppanyaki (1984)
- Security Unlimited (1981)
- The Cannonball Run (1981)
- The Contract (1978)
- The Private Eyes (1976)
- The Last Message (1975)
- Games Gamblers Play (1974)
- The Warlord (1972)
- Michael Hui at the Internet Movie Database
- Official Michael Hui Website
- Interview At FarEastFilms.com