(CNN) -- When choosing a career, Johnnie To considered becoming a policeman. However more than three decades after accepting a job at a TV station he's still shooting the Hong Kong underbelly but from behind a camera.
"One thing I'm really sure about, is that I still would chose the film industry if I had another chance to start all over again," he told CNN.
Police and robbers have appeared in many of his films, with the 54-year-old director tackling numerous genres in his portfolio of over 40 films, mostly shot and made in his native Hong Kong.
To is one of the city's most prolific directors and found acclaim overseas with his 2005 gangster film "Election".
He admits he has no ambition to be a superstar director, but would work in Hollywood if the opportunity arose, however, it would have to be on his terms.
"Of course, Hollywood is a dream place for everyone working in the film industry. It's also my dream. But what I really want to achieve is not to pop there once or twice, but to get something out of there. I'd want to make something that can't be made anywhere else but Hollywood -- not just an ordinary film to put on their screen," he said.
Many of To's characters are uncompromising and straight-talking -- not unlike the director himself.
"I have no patience and I don't hold back when I think of something. I'll just say it directly. I don't give people much time to prepare before a shot."