Originally named Suen Jian-yuan, Sun Chien was born in 1955 in Taiwan. He lost both parents while young, and was brought up by his two sisters. In 1976 director Chang Cheh was recruiting new stars in Taiwan for the movie Chinatown Kid. Taekwondo veteran Sun was selected among many competitors and was given the supporting role in the movie.
Sun since developed his career in Hong Kong, and signed as a contract actor with Shaw Brothers for 8 years. Being one of "Chang's Cohorts," he often starred in the director's action and martial arts movies.