Hong Kong’s action movie star Donnie Yen celebrates his 55th birthday today. Here are five Donnie Yen movies (in no particular order) that you should watch.
1. ‘Ip Man’ series (2008, 2010, 2015)
Ip Man is the best-known movie character Donnie Yen has portrayed. The series is a trilogy about the life of the legendary grandmaster of the Chinese martial art of wing chun, and is set from the time of the Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s to the 1950s when Ip Man promoted wing chun in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Yen, says that each film has a hidden theme. The first was about “survival”, the second focused on “making a living and adapting”, while the last one unveiled the “essence of life”. Yen is working on the fourth film in the series this year, which is expected to be the first in the franchise to be set in America.
Directed by Hong Kong’s Wilson Yip, the first film won the Best Film award at the 28th Hong Kong Film Awards, racking up US$21.9 million in box office receipts worldwide.
2. ‘Flash Point’ (2007)
Also directed by Wilson Yip, this movie is another classic Hong Kong action movie starring and produced by Donnie Yen. The movie features famous actors from Hong Kong and the mainland, including Louis Koo, Collin Chou, Lui Leung-wai, Fan Bingbing and Xing Yu.
The fighting scenes choreographed by Donnie Yen are the highlight of the movie, which won the Best Action Choreography at the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards and the 44th Golden Horse Awards. The character Yen played, Ma Jun, is a police sergeant who is fighting against a Vietnamese triad. Yen uses mixed martial arts in the movie, incorporating wushu with martial arts from other countries. He considers the mixed martial arts featured in this movie as one of his greatest achievements in martial arts.
3. ‘Rouge One: A Star Wars Story’ (2016)
This movie, featuring Yen and Chinese actor, Jiang Wen, marks the first appearance of Chinese actors in the Star Wars series. The American space drama, directed by Gareth Edwards, director of Godzilla, is the first film in the Star Wars Anthology series. Yen plays a blind warrior, Chirrut Îmwe, who believes in the Force and is one of the Guardians of the Whills alongside Jiang.
The film was a major hit, raking in US$1.06 billion in box office takings in 2016, and received positive reviews around the world.
4. ‘Chasing the Dragon’ (2017)
Based on a true story, the Hong Kong mobster movie features Donnie Yen as Cripple Ho, a notorious 1960s drug lord in Hong Kong, and Andy Lau as detective Lee Rock. The two are friends who are willing to die for each other. However, one is a policeman and the other, a criminal.
Yen, who starred and co-produced the film, said he wanted to use the movie to break away from being stereotyped as purely a kung fu star. He studied the Chiu Chow dialect and how a cripple would walk. The diligent actor aggravated an old injury while playing this role.
The movie was a blockbuster in the summer of 2017, grossing about US$85 million in cinemas worldwide.
5. ‘Big Brother’ (2018)
This comedy action movie will be released on August 24. Yen plays a high schoolteacher who used to be a soldier. He has to use his special training to save students of his who are kidnapped.
Given that Yen is a big fan of MMA, the movie features MMA fighters Jess Liaudin, Brahim Achabbakhe and Mike Leeder, along with Chinese drama actress Joe Chan.
This movie is one of four that Yen has been working on this year. His other new films include Ip Man 4, Iceman 2 and Enter the Fat Dragon.