A sociology degree holder with quiz and variety-show spells in TVBS, Hui's breakthrough work in film is his first, 大軍閥 ("The Great Regime" or "The Warlord", 1972), where he played a farcical warlord. In 1974, he set up his own film company with Golden Harvest, where he contributed some 20 comedy films, mostly as actor and scriptwriter. "The Private Eyes" (1976), "The Contract" (1978) and "The Modern Bodyguard" (1981) -- the last of which won him the first Hong Kong Academy Best Actor -- are often seen as the quintessential, highly popular comedies made by the company.
Earlier Hui comedies are usually episodic gags which capitalize on the comedic appeal of him and his brothers, but later Hui developed a brand of satiric comedy which combines a character-driven story-line with his own underplayed comic talent. Set mostly in modern-day Hong Kong, Hui's films are among the first successful works to be made in Cantonese. Some of Hui's more renowned works come in the 1980s. In "Inspector Chocolate" (1986), he played a chocolate-eating inspector who must solve a kidnap case while his subordinate is involved in a Miss Hong-Kong pageant. In "Chicken and Duck Talk" (1988), restauranteurs come to blows to secure profits. "Front Page" (1990) lampoons the Hong Kong press, while "The Magic Touch" (1991) builds on the Chinese knack for fortune-telling. "Always on My Mind" (1993) continues on this vein of self-deprecating humour.
A Chinese Box (1997), directed by Wayne Wong, is Hui's only film in the West. He is the eldest of a group of three brothers in the Hong Kong entertainment circle, Ricky and Sam, together with which they started the Hui Brothers Company.