The only thing Sammo Hung can do during his recent 4-day trip to Singapore

Hong Kong film legend Sammo Hung marvelled at Singapore’s transformation over the years – but he too has not escaped change.

The 72-year-old was in town for the Asian Film Awards Academy’s masterclass series, held at Lasalle College of the Arts on May 4.

Hung at a May 3 press conference at Golden Village Bugis+ said: “I have not filmed movies for a long time, so I thought audiences would have forgotten about me. Thank you to our media friends for still remembering me. Little fatty has now become old fatty. I hope everyone continues to support me. Thank you.”

Hung told TNP he would not have the time for any sightseeing during his four-day trip and added: “The only thing I can do is to sleep.”

Nevertheless, he has fond memories of the Lion City, which he last visited seven years ago.

“The most unforgettable thing about Singapore would be bak kut teh and Hainanese chicken rice,” said Hung, as he – and the audience – erupted in laughter. “I am more sensitive when it comes to food.”

“Actually, I really like Singapore’s attitude and lifestyle. I came here to shoot a movie 30 to 40 years ago, but was not used to it then. At that time, I was a little afraid of Singapore because it felt like there were so many laws to control us,” Hung added, referring to our chewing gum ban.

“But now, decades later, so many places are different. Firstly, it’s very clean. Secondly, it's very green. Even the skyscrapers can grow trees!” said Hung, to guffaws once again.

“I was even joking to my wife that Singapore and Malaysia used to be a jungle, but they have really undergone a remarkable transformation.”

Hung's own evolution parallels that of Singapore's ever-changing landscape. 


When asked about his metamorphosis over the years, Hung told TNP: “My transformation is too great. Why am I different now than when I was 18 years old? It’s age. Turns out that I am old. I am still young at heart, but once you ask me to do something, I feel old.”

The veteran artiste also compared himself to rice, in response to a question about what dish he most resembles. 

He explained: “It’s the most important staple to the Chinese and many South-East Asians.”

This sentiment rings true, given Hung's status as an icon of Hong Kong cinema. Boasting an illustrious career spanning over 60 years with more than 200 films under his belt, he has seamlessly transitioned between roles as a choreographer, director, producer, actor and more.

 “I have loved everything about movies since my very first day. So when shooting a film, I can be the cameraman, I can talk about the lighting, I can do menial work like pushing the camera dolly, I can do it all," said Hung.

But has he always known that this would be his calling? Not quite.

Hung shared: “I only knew that I loved movies. Every time I heard there was a film to shoot, I would be so happy. I tried my best to do everything. I did not know what the future would hold as I was so young. I only knew to make the best of each opportunity to perform.

“The most important thing is your passion. I did not think ‘I, Sammo Hung, am going to be a director.’ I worked step by step for everything. Just do your best. Fight for what you want to do, that’s the most important thing.”

He expressed similar sentiments when dishing out advice to aspiring filmmakers. 

Emphasising the importance of perseverance and hard work, Hung noted: “The environment then and now are very different. It used to be easier to shine, but things are tougher now. You might retreat in this current landscape.

“If you really love movies, you must work hard. Don’t waste it. Wasting your time is not fooling anyone, you’re just lying to yourself. It’s like when I go exercise, I tell myself to just do this and that, but I’m exercising for myself, not others, so I’m only lying to myself."

Hung is also open to working with Singaporean directors even though he has not had the chance to watch any local productions yet.

It does not matter whether he comes in as a potential collaborator or is hired as an actor, said the martial arts star, who gleefully quipped: “The most important thing is to pay me.”

Speaking of his future dreams, Hung told TNP: “I hope to shoot a few more good movies. I entered showbiz at 14 and have never left. I think this is not easy. At one point, I wanted to switch industries, become a chef. But after one week, they called and said, ‘Fatty, time to film.’

“From that moment on, I have not stopped. Cinema, to me, is life.”

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