I mentioned in an earlier post that one of my favourite ever interviews was with Sammo Hung. It was originally published in Empire and is a few years old now, so I thought I’d get it online. Possibly the jolliest man I ever talked to for any reason, he spoke in exclamation marks and guffawed heartily after every statement. The piece was for a short-lived series on Hong Kong martial arts legends (I interviewed Donnie Yen too) and we asked everyone the same questions, so they’re fairly generic. But I enjoyed the answers…
What are you working on right now?
I’m writing a script… [Silence]. I tell you about it later!
What’s your preferred genre?
I like action comedy. I have a lot of favourites. I like The Prodigal Son (1983) and Wheels On Meals (1984). I like them because I like to make people happy. Whenever I make the action comedies, people are happy! People in the cinema are like Yeah! They really enjoy them!
How would you describe your combat style?
I need very many different kind of styles to be able to use them in the films. Even now I’m still very interested in all different kinds of martial arts. I can do them all! Everything is good for me!
What’s your signature move?
I don’t really have a signature move. My signature is my size. I love to do a lot of things so people will be shocked. Because my body is so big, people don’t believe it! Maybe ten or twenty years ago I didn’t feel so big, but now some actions feel very different to how they felt then. If I try to do those things now I move slower and most probably I get hurt. I’m getting old now – I’m 28! But I’m very lucky. I can still move very fast.
What’s your training regime?
I train with my mouth every day, smoking cigars! Whenever I start a new project, three months before we start shooting I will get in training. The rest of the time I am just smoking and eating and playing golf.
What was your big break?
I think it’s my first movie as director. I don’t know the English name [The Iron Fisted Monk (1977)]. If the first one was no good, I get fired!
What was your proudest moment?
Actually, I don’t really have that kind of feel. Just the audience laughing makes me happy. I love to be actor. I love to be director. I love to be action choreographer. I like every position on the movie. I enjoy the work all the time. Any time I go someplace and work, I am happy. All my career is my proudest moment.
What was your lowest point?
That was in 1992. I went to America because I lost faith in the Chinese industry [Sammo parted company with Hong Kong’s legendary Golden Harvest, after a 21-year relationship, citing lack of studio support]. I decided to try other things, but it was very hard. I wanted to make some movies to show my country, because people don’t know China; they don’t know the difference between Chinese and Japanese! But after 2001 I came back to Hong Kong.
What’s your attitude towards Hollywood?
I liked Hollywood. Western martial artists are very good too, but they don’t last as long as in China. Their fighting life is shorter. Their training is not as good, and their normal life is wrong.
Who would you most like to work with?
I like everybody! Most comfortable is Jackie Chan. When we work together we don’t need to say too much. It’s just eye contact.
What’s your career philosophy?
I want to be a big producer. I want to be a big director. Everything big! I don’t retire. If you stop moving you will die. I will work and keep on fighting for 150 years more!