The 44th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF44) today unveiled Hong Kong’s very own King of Comedy Michael HUI as its Filmmaker-in-Focus.
In a career spanning half a century as producer, writer, director and actor, HUI has dazzled and entertained generations of Hong Kong audiences with his character-driven satires combined with a splash of slapstick alongside a unique Cantonese sensibility.
“Michael is a living legend,” enthused HKIFF Executive Director Albert LEE. “Just as the works of screen legends the ilk of CHAPLIN, KEATON and TATI, HUI’s mastery of his craft makes him a true icon of Hong Kong cinema, with an enduring influence on generations of aspiring filmmakers and comedians. We are thrilled and honored to be recognising his massive contribution which re-defined Hong Kong’s comedy cinema.”
To be held from 24 March to 6 April, HKIFF44 will celebrate HUI’s remarkable career with a retrospective of 10 of his seminal works together with the release of a commemorative book, featuring new interviews with HUI and some of his collaborators, as well as critiques and rarely-seen production sketches of his classic comedies. As with the previous filmmakers-in-focus, HUI will also attend a Face to Face session at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre on 28 March to share his creative insights and anecdotes with the public in person.
HUI made his breakthrough on television with the popular Hui Brothers Show in 1971-1972, where his unique brand of humor and deadpan comic timing caught the eyes of famed director LI Han-Hsiang. LI cast him as a farcical general in The Warlord (1972), a debut that set the path for HUI’s distinguished tapestry of inventing jokes and performing art.
A combination of episodic gags and wits becomes the canon of the early HUI comedies, all co-starring his brothers Sam and Ricky. Games Gamblers Play (1974), in which HUI combined directing, writing and acting roles for the first time, broke all box-office records. His phenomenal success continued with The Last Message (1975) and The Private Eyes (1976).
HUI received international acclaim in the 1980s with some of his most renowned works as he became known as Mr. Boo! in Japan and across Europe. He and his three brothers – with Stanley also helping out behind the scene – combined their wits and produced Security Unlimited (1981), one of the most iconic comedies in the history of Hong Kong cinema, winning HUI the first Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor in the process.
In Chicken and Duck Talk (1988), the first film released by his own company, HUI starred in a roaring comedy about a penny-pinching restauranteur which he co-wrote with director Clifton KO, providing his trademark laughs with an acerbic look at the changing society and integrated local culture. The Philip CHAN-directed Front Page (1990) reunited HUI with his brothers and affirmed his social conscience with a sarcastic take on the showbiz tabloid paparazzi scene.
The Magic Touch (1992) is simultaneously a satire of the Chinese obsession with wealth and fortune-telling, and a timely reflection of the pre-1997 handover anxiety. Continued in Always on My Mind (1993) directed by Jacob CHEUNG, HUI delivered one of his most poignant and accomplished screen performances, offering a mischievous nudge at media impact, yet a sympathetic take on family value.
Forever a perfectionist, HUI never ceases his pursuit of excellence in films. A recent prime example being Godspeed (2016), which won him a Golden Horse Best Actor Award nomination.
HKIFF44 will announce this year’s full programme on 10 March. The public can purchase tickets online (www.hkiff.org.hk) and through all URBTIX outlets from 13 March.
Face to Face with Michael HUI
Date: 28 March 2020 (Saturday)
Venue: Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
Online pre-registration for FREE admission, with details available through the HKIFFS’s official website and Facebook page on a later date.
Retrospective film list
1972 The Warlord
1974 Games Gamblers Play
1975 The Last Message
1976 The Private Eyes
1981 Security Unlimited
1988 Chicken and Duck Talk
1990 Front Page
1992 The Magic Touch
1993 Always on My Mind