Donnie Yen Filmography and Profile. Check out Donnie Yen biography, photo gallery, pictures, interviews, pics at Film Bor!
Donnie Yen was born on 27 July 1963, also known as Yen Ji-dan (甄子丹). He is a Hong Kong actor, Chinese martial artist, film director and producer, action choreographer, and multiple-time world wushu tournament champion.
Yen’s first step into the film industry was 1984 when he landed his first starring acting role in the 1984 film Drunken Tai Chi. After filming Drunken Tai Chi and Tiger Cage (1988), Yen made his breakthrough role as General Nap-lan in Once Upon a Time in China II (1992), which included a fight scene between his character and Wong Fei-hung (played by Jet Li). Yen had a starring role in the film Iron Monkey in 1993. Yen and Li appeared together again in the 2002 film Hero, where Yen played a spear (or qiang) fighter who fought with Li’s character, an unnamed swordsman. The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 2003 Academy Awards.
In 1995, Yen starred as Chen Zhen (Cantonese: Chan Zan) in the television series Fist of Fury produced by ATV, which is adapted from the 1972 film of the same title that starred Bruce Lee as Chen Zhen. Yen reprised his role as Chen Zhen in the 2010 film Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen.
In 1997, Yen started the production company Bullet Films, and made his directorial debut in Legend of the Wolf (1997) and Ballistic Kiss (1998), in which he played the lead character. At age 34, Yen almost became bankrupt. Films produced by his own production company and directed by him were critically appraised but did not do well at the box office. Yen was forced to borrow money from loan sharks and his production crew to get by.
Yen later went back to the United States, where he was invited to choreograph fight scenes in Hollywood films, such as Highlander: Endgame (2000) and Blade II (2002). His choreography and skills impressed the directors and they invited him for cameos in both movies.
In 2002, Jet Li was filming the movie Hero and insisted to the director that he wanted Yen to play the role of Sky, his adversary, due to Yen’s martial arts ability. Li personally invited Yen back from Hollywood to star in the movie. In 2003, Yen played the antagonist against Jackie Chan in Shanghai Knights.
Yen choreographed most of the fight animation in the 2004 video game Onimusha 3, which featured actors Takeshi Kaneshiro and Jean Reno. Yen continued to be active in Hong Kong cinema in the 2000s, starring as Chu Zhaonan in Tsui Hark’s wuxia epic film Seven Swords, and as Ma Kwun in Wilson Yip’s brutal crime drama film SPL: Sha Po Lang in 2005. Both films were featured at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival. Later that year, Yen co-starred with Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue in Wilson Yip’s Dragon Tiger Gate, an adaptation of Wong Yuk-long’s manhua series Oriental Heroes. Yen also worked as action choreographer in Stormbreaker, starring Alex Pettyfer. Yen continued to work with Wilson Yip in Flash Point (2007), in which he starred as the lead character and served as producer and action choreographer for the film. He won the award for Best Action Choreography at the Golden Horse Film Awards and the Hong Kong Film Awards for his performance in Flash Point.
In 2008, Yen starred in Ip Man, a semi-biographical account of Yip Man, the Wing Chun master of Bruce Lee. Ip Man marked Yen’s fourth collaboration with director Wilson Yip, reuniting him with his co-stars in SPL: Sha Po Lang, Sammo Hung and Simon Yam. Ip Man became the biggest box office hit to date featuring Yen in the leading role, grossing HK$25 million in Hong Kong and 100 million yuan in China.
In August 2011, while Yen was on a vacation with his family in the United States, he reportedly received an invitation by producer Avi Lerner to star in The Expendables 2. It was stated that Yen was considering the offer, had many films at hand, and would wait until deciding whether the script appealed to him. Later on, Yen revealed to the Hong Kong media that he had rejected the role.
In 2011, Yen revealed that he was venturing into other genres of movies, and had taken up two comedy roles in a row, All’s Well, Ends Well 2011 and All’s Well, Ends Well 2012 and would be working with Carina Lau in the former and Sandra Ng in the latter. Both films obtained huge critical and box-office successes and proved that Yen is a versatile actor.
Yen took a six-month break in the second half of 2011 after the filming of Monkey King 3D, explaining that he wanted to spend more time with his family and be with his children more often during their growth.
In 2012, Yen returned to the movie industry and commenced the filming of Special Identity, in which he played the main lead, an undercover cop, and also took on the role of action choreographer. In 2013, it was reported that Donnie Yen would be playing the lead role for The Iceman Cometh 3D, a sci-fi action film dealing with time travel and which is filmed in 3D. Yen confirmed that MMA would be used in both of the above films.
In February 2013, the Weinstein Company confirmed that it had purchased the rights to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel and contacted Yen to play the male lead. In March 2013, Hong Kong magazines surfaced photos of Harvey and Bob Weinstein travelling to Hong Kong to meet with Yen and persuade him to accept the offer. It was reported that Yen was considering the role and quoted as saying “The first is that my schedule this year is very packed. The second is that the first film is already such a classic. I am afraid of the pressure, that the original cannot be surpassed.”
In May 2013, during the annual Cannes Film Festival, the Weinstein Company announced that Yen would play the lead role of Silent Wolf in the Crouching Tiger sequel, titled Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, with leading female action star Michelle Yeoh reprising her role as Yu Shu Lien, and directed by Yen’s mentor, Yuen Woo-ping. It was revealed that the movie will be filmed in both English and Mandarin to appeal to the international market.
It was also revealed during the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II press conference that the Weinstein Company had obtained rights to Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, is planning a re-make and hence is negotiating with Yen, George Clooney and Zhang Ziyi to star in the upcoming film. Donnie Yen has since declined the offer, due to scheduling conflicts for the filming of Ip Man 3.
In late March 2015, Ip Man 3 was announced. Yen will be reprising his role as the titular character, Bruce Lee’s martial arts master, Ip Man. Retired boxer and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has been confirmed to join the cast. Donnie Yen has since mentioned that he is a big fan of Mike Tyson, has watched many of his professional boxing bouts, and is excited to work with him. Mike Tyson stated during a press conference that he is a huge fan of Donnie Yen, and has watched the first two Ip Man movies more than three times each and is honored to be invited for the final installment of the trilogy.
Principal photography for Ip Man 3 began on 25 March 2015, and the finished movie was released in December 2015 in parts of Asia and around the world in early 2016 to generally favorable reviews. During Ip Man 3’s announcement press conference, Yen appeared visibly thinner and has personally stated that at age 51, this might be his last kung fu film.
In August 2015, Yen was confirmed on the cast list of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. On February 12, 2016, it was confirmed that Yen will replace Jet Li in the role of the lead villain in the upcoming action film XXX: Return of Xander Cage.