Kwan landed a job at the TVB after receiving a mass communications degree at Hong Kong Baptist College. Kwan's first film was Women (1985), which starred Chow Yun-fat, and was a big box-office success.
Kwan came out as a gay man in 1996 in Yang ± Yin, his documentary looking at the history of Chinese-language film through the prism of gender roles and sexuality. He is one of the few openly gay directors in Asia and one of the very few to have worked on these themes. His Lan Yu (2001) adapts a gay love story originally published on the Internet.