Connect with us

Donnie Yen: The Last Action Hero


Donnie Yen: The Last Action Hero

For three decades, Donnie Yen has kicked, punched and jumped his way up the rankings of martial-arts movie stars. “Wu Xia,” which opens next month, shows why he’s the genre’s current grand master.

“I think at a creative level I am at a peak,” says Mr. Yen, who’s vaulted to the top of A-list Asian actors in recent years, joining the ranks of legendary martial-arts stars Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee.

Superstardom came late for Mr. Yen, who turns 48 years old this year. Back in the 1980s, when he started out, Hong Kong action movies were “like the wild west—guerrilla filmmakers, anything goes,” he says. “Those were the primitive days. Back then we didn’t really have the budget. Nowadays, safety comes first.”

After appearing in dozens of movies and television shows, he made leading-man turns in 2008’s “Ip Man” and its sequel—both based on the life of the 20th-century Chinese martial-arts master of the same name—that kicked his career into high gear.

In “Wu Xia,” from director Peter Chan, Mr. Yen plays a repentant killer living in a secluded village whose past catches up with him. The movie, set at the end of the Qing Dynasty in the early 20th century, cost $20 million and premiered last month at Cannes.

Mr. Yen spoke with The Wall Street Journal on the set of “Wu Xia.”

With action sequences, how much is preplanned and how much is improvised on the set?

It really depends. I also worked in Hollywood films—everything there is preplanned, written, as much as possible. Ideally, that is the best way, because everybody knows what’s going on and is well prepared. But it is not necessarily the most creative result. Sometimes we get motivated and stimulated on the set. I remember the old days when I first started in the Hong Kong industry— there was no such thing as planning. They start choreographing the moves on the set.

Continue Reading
You may also like...
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To Top