Charles Heung

Charles Heung

Charles Heung Wah-Keung is a Hong Kong actor-turned-film producer and presenter. He is one of Hong Kong's most successful presenters/producers, and one of the most controversial due to his family's Triad background.


Heung is widely suspected of ties to one of Hong Kong's largest and most powerful organized crime groups, the Sun Yee On Triad. Heung's father, Heung Chin, founded the Sun Yee On in 1919. Charles is the tenth of the Sun Yee On founder's thirteen children.

Heung Chin's eldest son, Heung Wah-Yim, was convicted in 1988 of being the triad's boss, although his conviction in Hong Kong was overturned on a technicality. The Senate Subcommittee on Investigations also identified him as the triad's leader in a 1992 report on Asian organized crime.

In the 1970s, Charles subsequently married Betty Ting, the actress, who is remembered today primarily because of the "mysterious" death of Bruce Lee in her apartment. The marriage, however did not last, and Charles later married Tiffany Chen, in the early 1980s.

Charles is the older brother of Jimmy Heung, who later became his partner in the formation of Win's Entertainment, Ltd.. The partnership between the two ended in 1992 as Charles felt that Jimmy's style of negotiating business too closely resembled that of a triad member. While Charles sees Jimmy as a "good triad," it is widely believed that Jimmy has moved on, and supposedly runs the triad to this day.

Charles was one of several Heung brothers identified in 1992 by the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee of Investigations as top office-bearers in the Sun Yee On. Two years later, a former Red Pole for the Sun Yee On, testifying in a Chinatown racketeering case in a Brooklyn federal court, identified Charles as one of "the top guys, the biggest," in the society. A year after that, the Commission for Canada sent Heung a letter rejecting his application for a Visa, citing evidence placing him squarely on the ruling council of the Sun Yee On.

Heung agrees that his family has what he calls "a Triad background," but says that he personally has little knowledge of such things, and has had to labor hard to overcome the stigma. He also admits that some people may fear him, but says his business philosophy is to get top actors, actresses and directors to make movies for him because they like him.

In 2000, when his brother Heung Wah-Po was arrested for setting fire to his own apartment (after quarreling with his mistress), Charles refused to help him and publicly announced that he did not know his brothers well since they were given birth by different mothers. To this day, Heung continues to steer clear away from his family's triad background.


Heung started off as an actor making films (mostly martial arts films) in Taiwan during the 1970s, before later becoming a producer. While the triad's influence in Hong Kong cinema became notorious, Heung tried to keep himself away from his family's triad image by creating a company of safe refuge. In 1984, he and his brother, Jimmy Heung, formed Win's Entertainment Ltd., which, beside Golden Harvest, became one of the most successful film studios in Hong Kong. Charles was quoted for saying that, "Every film is a battle" when asked why he named the production company Win's.

Virtually, every major star in Hong Kong, apart from Jackie Chan, had made a film for the Heungs. Jet Li, the biggest martial-arts star in Hong Kong, began making movies exclusively for Heung after his manager was shot dead in 1993. Andy Lau, joined Win's' stable of stars after one of his associates, a 26-year-old woman, was hospitalized for injuries she received when her apartment was firebombed. Hong Kong police believe that both incidents were related to triad gang activity.

Heung became a producer and a presenter for films, but he had also gotten fame from acting, with his best known role being as Lung Wu, the God of Gamblers' bodyguard in God of Gamblers and its sequel, God of Gamblers Returns. Some other films included the God of Gamblers spin-offs, God of Gamblers II, and God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai, including other films such as Arrest the Restless, The Prince of Temple Street and Casino Raiders, which was co-directed by his brother, Jimmy.

In 1992, Heung formed China Star Entertainment Group and became the studio's chairman and CEO, with his wife, Tiffany Chen, serving as vice chairman and administrative producer.

Heung, as a presenter, has highlighted a majority of Hong Kong's biggest cinematic icons, including Jet Li, Andy Lau, Sammi Cheng, Cecilia Cheung, Simon Yam, Lau Ching-Wan, Gigi Leung, Charlene Choi, and Louis Koo. This includes some of HK's biggest filmmakers, such as Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai, Wong Jing, Herman Yau and Dennis Law. Actress Cherrie Ying even caught the attention of Heung's wife, Tiffany Chen, after making her film debut with Fulltime Killer.

In 1999, alongside Johnnie To, Heung established One Hundred Years of Film Co. Ltd., one of the few companies dedicated to developing a huge library of content for China Star. Heung's initial plan was to make 100 films within three years.

Heung plans to continuing producing and presenting films, now aiming for big-budgeted projects. Following the partnership split between himself and Jimmy, Heung closed down the Win's Entertainment Ltd. studio in 2000, and continued to produce and distribute films under China Star, which is now one of the most powerful film companies in Hong Kong.


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