Creator: Donnie Yen

"When you watch my films, you're feeling my heart."
Donnie Yen about his film style.

Donnie Yen (born Yen Ji-Dan 27 July 1963) is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film director and producer, action choreographer, and world wushu tournament medalist. Apart from being a well-known film and television actor in Hong Kong, Yen has also gained international recognition for appearing in many films together with other prominent and internationally-known actors such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh.

At a young age, under influence from his mother, Yen developed an interest in martial arts and began experimenting with various styles, especially wushu, which got him in a two-year training program with the Beijing Wushu Team. In his return to United States, he made a side-trip to Hong Kong and met action choreographer Yuen Woo-ping there, becoming a stunt double and later actor. His first leading role, 1984's, Drunken Tai Chi got him noticed by big studios in Hong Kong, although his big breakthrough would come in 1992 with playing a baddie in the box office hit Once Upon a Time in China II, opposing his long time friend Jet Li. He also starred in cult classic The Iron Monkey. While still having a moderate film career at that point, Yen fared better in TV, starring in over 5 series, his more well known shows were The Kung Fu Master, where he played Hung Hei-gun, a major influential figure of Southern Shaolin Kung Fu, and Fist Of Fury, a 30 episode adaptation of the Bruce Lee classic, as Yen is a big Bruce Lee fan.

His film career would be revived after the international success of 2002's Hero, where he would cross fists with Jet Li. However, after making well received films such as 2005's SPL: Sha Po Lang, his biggest box office success would come in 2008's Ip Man, a semi-biographical account of Yip Man (played by Yen), 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 Sammo Hung and Simon Yam. Ip Man became the biggest box office hit to date which featured Yen in the leading role, grossing HK$25 million in Hong Kong and 100 million yuan in China. It would later gain sequel, Ip Man 2, in 2010, which also a major box office success.

Apart from being an acclaimed martial artist and actor, Yen is also a world class action choreographer, and is especially notable for his violent yet technical style on screen. In recent years, Yen was successful in including Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) into his action sequences in various films, a feat most other action directors have been unsuccessful at accomplishing so far. His film Flash Point, featuring abundant MMA, was a huge success and won him the "Best Action Choreography" awards at the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards and the 2008 Golden Horse Film Awards. He also choreographed 2010 film Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, where he included MMA, Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do elements as a tribute to Bruce Lee (who played Chen Zhen in the 1972 film Fist of Fury). Yen stated that the concept behind Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do is similar to that of MMA, hence its incorporation was a necessity in this film.

Next to coming from a martial art family, Yen also came from a family of musicians. His mother is a soprano, in addition to being a martial arts teacher in Boston, while his father is a violinist. Since young, he was taught by his parents to play musical instruments, including the piano. Along that, he has practised hip hop and breakdancing. Is there something out that Donnie Yen has not done?

His younger sister, Chris Yen, is also a martial artist and actress, and appeared in the 2007 film Adventures of Johnny Tao: Rock Around the Dragon.


Notable Donnie Yen Films:
Tropes applicable to him:

  • Arch-Enemy: On-screen, he has opposed Jet Li several times. In real life, they are very close friends.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: A huge number of his early roles, and some say he was quite arrogant off screen in his early career. However, all of his coworkers nowadays describe him as a very polite, professional guy.
  • Badass: One of the biggest in Asiatic cinema.
    • Badass Beard: In 2011, he did the titular role in The Lost Bladesman as legendary glaive-wielder Guan Yu, one of the major characters of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, whose trademark physical feature was his legendarily long beard... although throughout the latter half of the movie it's actually shaved off to a goatee. (The opening scene reveals that he'd grown it back by the time of his death.)
    • Badass in a Nice Suit: In several of his early films, you see him kick ass while wearing some fancy clothes, mostly formal.
    • Cultured Badass: He's quite good at playing the piano, and he gets a chance to do so in the movie Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen.
  • Bruce Lee Clone: While he doesn't do it as much, he does tend to show mannerisms related to Bruce Lee, mostly as a nod as his love for him. He also played one of Lee's iconic characters Chen Zhen, twice in Fist of Fury TV series and the film Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Donnie has an anecdote in which he and his girlfriend were harassed in a Hong Kong club in the 1990s by a troublesome gang. Yen calmly warned them of leaving them alone, but the thugs opted to attack him, which ended with Donnie thoroughly kicking their asses around the street. The incident got Yen arrested for a night and solified his reputation as a real life dangerous martial artist.
  • Combat Parkour: Several of his film characters use it.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: He has trained in tai chi, wushu, boxing, kickboxing, taekwondo, muay thai, wing chun, Jeet Kune Do, judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling and Le Parkour under varios trainers.
  • Mean Character Nice Actor: Plays villainous roles from time to time.
  • Martial Pacifist: After he played the role of Wing Chun master Yip Man in both Ip Man and Ip Man 2.
  • Mixed Martial Arts: Flash Point uses stylized MMA for combat scenes.
  • Playing Against Type: Donnie, usually the Lightning Bruiser, played China's best known Mighty Glacier in The Lost Bladesman.
  • Promoted Fanboy: See the trope above.

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