Donnie Yen

Donnie Yen

His role in 'Wong Fei-hung ji yi: Naam yi dong ji keung' (1992)

Background:

“Martial art is a form of expression, an expression from your inner self to your
hands and legs. Like all forms of life in our universe. A gesture, a smile, or
just walking down the street is an expression. For me, shooting, editing, and
scoring rely on rhythm. It must be part of you. Certainly there are fundamental
and technical aspects, but at the end it's the harmony of the whole.” Donnie Yen
Hong Kong martial arts superstar Donnie Yen has made a reputation for himself as
a successful actor, filmmaker and choreographer in both his homeland of China
and in the West. Rising to prominence as the villain of Jet Li’s Once Upon a
Time in China II (1992, earned a Hong Kong Film nomination), Yen gained even
more recognition for acting in such films as Tiger Cage Trilogy, Yes, Madam 4
(1989), Yuen Woo-Ping’s Iron Monkey (1993), Wing Chun (1994) and City of
Darkness (1999), among others. He also achieved recognition on the small screen
as the star of the miniseries adaptation of the classic Bruce Lee movie “Fist of
Fury” (1995).

The sharp-skilled martial artist is also known by most Americans for playing
roles in movies like Douglas Aarniokoski’s Highlander: Endgame (2000, opposite
Adrian Paul and Christopher Lambert), the action/thriller Blade II (2002,
alongside Wesley Snipes), Jet Li’s Hero (2002) and Shanghai Knights (2003, with
Jackie Chan).

Behind the film camera, Yen made a name for himself as a brilliant choreographer
for his work in The Twins Effect (2003), where he won a Golden Horse Award and a
Hong Kong Film Award. In addition, Yen has honed in on his craft as a director
and actor in several films, including Legend of the Wolf (1997), Shanghai
Affairs (1998), Ballistic Kiss (1998) and Fist of Fury: The Sequel (2001).

Recently appearing in Seven Swords (2005) and the crime-thriller SPL: Sha po
lang (2005), the actor will soon star in Dragon Tiger Gate (2006). He is also
set to play a role in the upcoming Daisy Scarlett: Semper Occultus.

Out of the limelight, Yen has been married since 2003 and is the father of two
children, daughter Jasmine and son Man Cheuk Yen. He is married to Cissy Wang Ci
Ci.


Bruce Lee Enthusiast

Childhood and Family:

Son of Bow Sim-Mark, a world famous martial arts master of Tai Chi Chuan and
Wushu, Donnie Yen Ji-Dan was born on July 27, 1963. Though he was born in
Canton, China, two-year-old Donnie spent his childhood in Hong Kong until his
family relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, when he was 11. In Boston, his mother
managed the internationally renowned Chinese Wushu Research Institute.

A musically disposed youngster who excelled at piano, Donnie was taught martial
arts at a very young age. When he was 4, he learned tai chi and continued to
learn different martial arts, from tae kwon do to wushu. While in Boston, Donnie
began watching kung fu movies and even escaped from school to watch them during
the day. He was very talented in imitating the skills of such films legends as
Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. As a teenager, disobedient Donnie began running with
the wrong crowd, so his worried mother sent him to China to study with the
prestigious Beijing Wushu Team. Trained with such future stars as Jet Li,
Donnie, who became the first non-PRC Chinese to be accepted into the school,
began to build the confidence and self-discipline to be a Wushu master. During a
trip to Hong Kong, he met the legendary filmmaker/choreographer/action director
Yuen Woo-Ping, who soon invited Donnie to break into the cinematic industry.

In 2003, Donnie married Cissy Wang Ci Ci in Toronto. He is the father of a
daughter named Jasmine. He also has a son, Man Cheuk Yen, from a previous
relationship.


Dragon Tiger Gate

Career:

While participating in a two-year training program in Beijing, Canton-born,
Boston-raised Donnie Yen had the chance to encounter renowned filmmaker Yuen
Woo-Ping, who was hunting for a new fighter. Introduced on a trip to Hong Kong,
Yen immediately began his career in showbiz when he was hired to stunt double
for several members of the famed Yuen clan on the film The Miracle Fighters
(1982). Yen showed so much potential that he received an offer and made his film
debut in the Yuen Woo-Ping-directed Drunken Tai-Chi two years later. Although it
was not a critical success, the movie helped Yen gain further notice.

Yen followed it up by taking small roles in films like Love Meets the Match
(1985), Ying ging boon sik (1988), Tiger Cage (1988), Yes, Madam 4 (1989), Tiger
Cage 2 (1990), Crystal Hunt (1991), Holy Virgin vs. the Evil Dead (1991) and New
Dragon Inn (1992), and appearing in the television series “Mo min kap sin fung”
(1988). However, Yen’s breakout role arrived in 1992 when he was cast in the
villainous role of General Lan in director Tsui Hark’s extremely popular Once
Upon a Time in China II, which starred Jet Li. Li and Yen’s fighting scenes in
the film have been considered one of the very best in martial arts films. Yen’s
creative combating skills finally paid off when he received a nomination at the
1992 Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Supporting Actor.

More roles followed after the much-talked-about performance. By 1994, Yen had
added six more movies to his resume. He first appeared opposite Michelle Yeoh in
Butterfly and Sword (1993), then played the small role of So Chan in Fist of the
Red Dragon (1993) and landed the starring role of Ronnie in Cheetah on Fire
(1993). He next rejoined Yuen Woo-Ping to costar in his films Iron Monkey (1993)
and Wing Chun (1994, starring opposite Michelle Yeoh), and portrayed Danton Lee
in Circus Kid (1994).
The following year saw Yen concentrate on television. He scored a massive
success with “Fist of Fury” (1995), a 30-episode mini-series based on the
classic Bruce Lee movie. With the earnings, Yen founded a production company
named Bullet Films in 1997 and soon launched his reputation as a film director
with the release of Legend of the Wolf that same year. Though the action/drama
film made little impact at the Hong Kong box office, the upbeat filmmaker was
not disturbed by the experience. He again sat in the director’s chair for
Shanghai Affairs (1998) and Ballistic Kiss (1998). The following year, he even
flew to Germany to helm the TV show Codename: Puma, which became a huge hit. The
same year, Yen also starred in the movie City of Darkness (1999).

Continuing to find more work and building up a fan base all over the world, Yen
eventually broke into Hollywood movies in the new millennium when he appeared as
Jin Ke in Douglas Aarniokoski’s Highlander: Endgame (2000), starring Adrian Paul
and Christopher Lambert. Though the sci-fi action film was a box office
disaster, Yen’s impressive performance in the film became a Hollywood calling
card. He was quickly invited back to America to film the action/thriller Blade
II (2002), which starred Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson. Not only acting,
he also served as a fight choreographer in the two films. Next up, Yen he was
cast opposite Jet Li in Hero (2002) and appeared in Jackie Chan’s vehicle
Shanghai Knights (2003).

Spending a great deal of time in front of the camera during early 2000, except
for directing the TV series “Puma - Kämpfer mit Herz, Der” (2000) and the movie
Fist of Fury: The Sequel (2001), Yen delivered his next big break in 2003 when
he took the duties of action director and co-director in the Hong Kong film The
Twins Effect. Due to his brilliant efforts, Yen took home a 2003 Golden Horse
and a 2004 Hong Kong Film for Best Action Choreography.

After picking up small roles in Love on the Rocks (2004) and Fa dou daai jin
(2004), Yen could be seen as Chu Zhao Nan in Tsui Hark’s epic Seven Swords
(2005), and was teamed with such Hong Kong action superstars as Sammo Hung and
Simon Yam for one of the most anticipated Chinese films, SPL: Sha po lang
(2005), a crime thriller directed by Wilson Yip. Both films were screened at the
Toronto Film Festival in 2005. The 43-year actor is currently working on
Stormbreaker (2006), starring Alicia Silverstone, as the action choreographer
and action director. He is also scheduled to star as Wang Xiao Long, opposite
Nicholas Tse, in Dragon Tiger Gate (2006), a version of a popular Chinese comic
novel. In early 2006, Yen was rumored to have been added to the cast and crew of
the British spy film Daisy Scarlett: Semper Occultus. Developed by writer and
producer Ben Trebilcook, the film will begin production in March 2006.


Awards:

Hong Kong Film: Best Action Choreography, Chin Gei Bin, 2004
Golden Horse: Best Action Choreography, Chin Gei Bin, 2003
There's a lot of thinking when you choreograph something. You're not just choreographing some bodies, arms, legs flying around to look cool. It's a lot more complicated and sophisticated. You also have to deal with the connection of the whole film, so when I choreograph, I think of the movement itself, the camera angles, the characters.More Donnie Yen quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
I always tell younger filmmakers, it's not just about the acting or the art itself. It's about how big of an audience watches your film.More Donnie Yen quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
I think that you can see that I am very emotional and very radical. I have always been that way.More Donnie Yen quotes [05/04/2006 12:05:00]
My schedule is really, really tight. In this country, what I'm trying to do is to launch my career as an actor and let me become a commodity first in terms of as an on screen actor and at the same time, I do my thing as a director.More Donnie Yen quotes [05/04/2006 12:05:00]
There is also a strong following among the urbanites on the East Coast when it comes to martial arts films.More Donnie Yen quotes [05/04/2006 12:05:00]

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