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Thread: Donnie Yen: Uber Awesome !!

  1. #61
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    This December & January are all about Donnie

    Inspired Man: Donnie Yen

    Ty Fahlman November 2, 2016 Featured, Interviews



    After Samuel L. Jackson met his co-star Donnie Yen on the set of the new xXx movie, he quickly took to Instagram. “Hanging with @donnieyenofficial, I can finally say I worked with Da Man!!!” Jackson wrote, beaming. “I’m officially Geeking Out!” “Geeking out” is what happens when fervent martial arts fans encounter the legendary actor, producer, director, and choreographer — whether they’re an average joe, or the highest-grossing actor of all time. When I told people I was interviewing Yen, they gave either one of two responses: “Who?” or something quite similar to Jackson’s unbridled superlative. There is no middle ground. Either you know who he is and adore him, or you’ve never heard of him.



    But with two major American films on the horizon — the aforementioned Vin Diesel sequel, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, early next year, and what could quite possibly be the biggest movie of this year, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, on December 16th — it seems like the category of people who don’t know Yen’s name could soon been rapidly diminishing. In China, it’s already a much different story. Arguably the country’s biggest action star, Yen made over $28 million there in 2013 and is a borderline cultural icon. The consensus is that now is his time to follow in the footsteps of his forbearers like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li and crossover and become a superstar in the States.

    I first meet him in the lobby of his Beverly Hills hotel. He is over an hour late. It isn’t his fault — his photo shoot ran late — but he apologizes profusely nevertheless. From the moment I shake his hand, he is humble, articulate, and introspective; I find him immediately captivating. He’s 5′ 8″, but like most true movie stars, feels larger, and with his stunner shades and form-fitting designer graphic tee, he looks every bit the part. We quickly make our way to a quiet booth in the back of the hotel restaurant and Yen requests a drink menu. “You want champagne?” he asks me in a polite but assertive way. “Sure.” How can I say no to Donnie Yen?



    It turns out not too many people do. Yen — whose mother was a Tai Chi grandmaster — is credited for both popularizing the martial arts style known as Wing Chun and bringing MMA to the Chinese mainstream. There are many (almost mythical) tales from when he was a young, self-described “rebel,” the most famous of which involves Yen allegedly sending eight gang members to the hospital (“that was blown out of proportion,” he says nonchalantly). But when Mike Tyson was cast alongside Yen in the third film in his beloved Ip Man series (about the man who trained Bruce Lee), people were publicly concerned that the former heavyweight champ might injure the comparatively diminutive Yen. Yet it was Tyson who landed in the hospital with a broken finger. “I felt bad about that,” Yen says earnestly, “it was just an accident.”




    Soon we are joined by Yen’s beautiful wife, Cissy Wang, a former model whom he married in 2003. Wang now heads the production company the couple founded and manages Yen’s breathless schedule. To use a tired cliché, she seems like the perfect left-brain yin to Yen’s right-brain yang: she is capable of not only wrangling his restless artistic spirit, but also promoting his brand (she’s the one who showed me Sam Jackson’s Instagram post and tells me about Robert Downey Jr.’s fanboy-like obsession with her husband). She is personable, savvy, and doesn’t mind enthusiastically touting her very humble husband’s accomplishments. “Look at this,” she says, showing me a Youtube video of his virtuoso piano playing: “Here he is playing Chopin. I mean, people don’t even know he is a musician!”



    I soon get the sense that Yen and Wang have very strong and symbiotic personal and professional relationships, and perhaps she was the driving force behind his ostensible upcoming American crossover attempt. But when I broach the latter subject, he just bushes it off. “The truth is I’ve worked on American films [Yen had small roles in Early Aughts action movies like Blade II and Shanghai Knights], but 10 years ago, they really didn’t understand how to direct martial arts, nor did they get how I work, Yen says. “When you hire me, you’re not just getting an actor; you are getting a choreographer, a director.” He likens it to watching Michael Jackson rehearse in the documentary This Is It: “He was singing, and at the same time he would stop and say, ‘no, the beat comes in here,’ or ‘you need to be faster,’ or ‘you are one step off.’ Because if you want Michael Jackson, you’re not just getting a performer, you’re getting the whole package.”



    The truth is, he initially turned down Star Wars (something 99% of actors not named Harrison Ford couldn’t fathom). “Truthfully, I didn’t want to spend five months apart from my family, filming in London,” he tells me. But then, he mentioned the prospect to his three children. “I asked them ‘how do you feel about daddy doing Star Wars?’ and they flipped out,” he tells me laughing. The film’s young director, Gareth Edwards definitely knew what he was getting when he brought on Yen, and allowed him to flesh out his Force-sensitive character how he saw fit (“it was my idea to make him blind,” Yen says proudly). Today, Yen is pleased with his contribution to the film and even embraces the fact that he will forever be immortalized as a Lego (“I think I might give them out as gifts,” he jokes).




    And if the film leads to more offers from American studios, then great. But Yen really just wants to be inspired. “I just take it one movie at a time,” he says. “I just look for the types of films that I am passionate about and challenge me and are refreshing…I think mainly about the character.” As we are finishing lunch, he takes out his phone and shows me pictures of a makeup test from an upcoming passion project he has been developing about the life of notorious gangster Limpy Ho, whom Yen describes as “Hong Kong’s Pablo Escobar.” In heavy prosthetics and glasses, Yen looks utterly unrecognizable, and he wells up with enthusiasm when discussing the film. “This is what I want to do,” he tells me, “I just want to be inspired.”

    Star Wars: Rogue One
    xXx: The Return of Xander Cage
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  2. #62
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    TCL Chinese Theatre

    Congrats Donnie! First Jackie gets an Oscar, now this. There is hope.

    ‘Rogue One’ Star Donnie Yen Flies Past His Martial Arts Roots
    Marshall Fine


    COURTESY OF DISNEY

    NOVEMBER 30, 2016 | 10:00AM PT

    On film, actor Donnie Yen’s hands and feet move too fast for the human eye to follow. They can smash through walls, not to mention human opponents.

    Yen will slow them down and apply them considerably more gently when he makes hands-and-feet imprints in cement Nov. 30 at TCL Chinese Theatre.

    “It’s only recently that Asian actors have been recognized for their artistic contributions,” Yen says. Jackie Chan was the first Asian actor so honored, in 1997. “So this is a great honor. It’s been a long time coming for Asian actors.”

    For Yen, 53, it is particularly sweet: Though he’s been working in films — as performer, action choreographer and director — since his early 20s, it’s only recently that he has been noticed as much for his acting as his martial-arts skills.

    “Thirty years ago, when I was starting, martial-arts movies were just about martial arts,” Yen says. “Now these films are thought of as just good movies that have martial arts as a commercial element. It’s no different than other movies; it has to be a good film, first.”

    Outside the United States, Yen “is the biggest action star in the world,” says critic Grady Hendrix, a founder of the New York Asian Film Festival. His profile is on the rise Stateside, thanks to the popular Hong Kong “Ip Man” movies, and a couple big Hollywood franchise plays about to hit multiplexes.

    The first “Ip Man,” about the grandmaster of the Wing Chun martial-arts style and Bruce Lee’s mentor, wasn’t released theatrically in the U.S., but built a wide audience thanks to Netflix and other streaming platforms, paving the way for the U.S. theatrical release of the second and third installments.

    Next up: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “xXx: Return of Xander Cage.” In “Star Wars,” he plays part of a heroic squad that steals plans for the Death Star; in the latter, he plays the chief villain opposite Vin Diesel’s daredevil operative.

    Yen, who lives in Hong Kong, admits he initially balked at the “Star Wars” role because it would take him away from his children for five months of filming in England: “My kids said, ‘Are you crazy? It’s ‘Star Wars’,” Yen says. “They said, ‘You’ve got to go.’”

    Still, Yen knows what his presence means to any film’s international box office prospects — particularly with the burgeoning movie audience in China. He didn’t want to be mere martial-arts eye-candy, as it were. “There are films where the only reason they want you is to reach the Chinese market,” he says.

    “When I asked [director Gareth Edwards] why he wanted me for the role, he told me he’d studied my films and I had the persona he wanted, that he had the perfect role for me,” Yen says. “The focus isn’t on my martial-arts ability but my ability as an actor. But there are still scenes to satisfy the martial-arts fans.”

    Yen is tight-lipped about his “Star Wars” character, Chirrut Imwe: “I play one of the characters who is connected with the Force,” he says. “He’s not a Jedi. His line is, ‘I AM the Force.’ Obviously, it’s a big deal, being the first Chinese actor asked to play a prominent role in a ‘Star Wars’ film. That means a lot.”

    Yen, who spent his adolescence in Boston after a Hong Kong childhood, considered becoming a professional musician, but chose martial arts instead, finding a mentor in legendary film-action choreographer Yuen Woo-ping, who saw Yen as someone with the potential to be another Chan. Yuen eventually paired Yen in a memorable battle with Jet Li in “Once Upon a Time in China II.”

    “In the past six or seven years, I’ve been fortunate to be able to choose things that inspire and challenge me,” Yen says. “I’ve played all kinds of roles: comedy, drama, romantic. There have been a lot of obstacles, because martial-arts films have always been perceived as less sophisticated about acting and I don’t think that’s the case. I’m known as an actor and a martial artist. Now, as an actor, I want to grow as an artist.”
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  3. #63
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    Donnie at MCM London Comic Con 2017

    Donnie Yen Talks Star Wars And Martial Arts At MCM Comic Con
    "Just because I'm Chinese, I don't only eat rice."
    By Cassie Parkes On Jun 6, 2017



    On Friday 26th May, Donnie Yen was in conversation with Robert Milazzo (founder of The Modern School of Film) at MCM London Comic Con 2017. Titled as “The State of Martial Arts”, the conversation spanned Star Wars, Donnie Yen’s early life and more, and you can find some of the questions and answers below, transcribed for those who could not attend the panel. (We also took the time to write up the answers to his Q & A with fans, if you’re looking for those!)

    RM: I was thinking a lot about the Chinese word “sifu”. How do you define that word?

    DY: I think anybody who’s accomplished a lot with their knowledge and skills, to where they can pass on their knowledge and skills to others–that individual can be called a sifu, a teacher.

    RM: Do you consider yourself a sifu?

    DY: (long pause) Uhhhh…you know, I think I’m both, I’m a teacher and a student. I don’t have many students, because I dedicated the last twenty-something years of my life to the film industry…I would rather call myself a full-time filmmaker and an amateur at martial arts! Everybody on the set, I consider them students I guess, because I like to share my experiences in the decades I’ve spent making action movies. But at the same time I consider myself a student because each time I finish a movie, I look back and I say to myself: “There are so many areas where I can be even better.” And I’ve tried to keep that way of thinking. In each movie, I strive for a breakthrough…there’s so much more to learn. The more I learn, the more I feel like a student!



    RM: I think there’s a great humility to your work. I think your performances are very passionate, yet humble. I don’t just think it’s the characters–I don’t think you can fake humility…there was a real Master in your family though. Your Mom’s kind of a badass…

    DY: I was born in China, and when I was two years old, my father took me to Hong Kong because that was before China really opened up [as a country]. I was separated from my Mom…she stayed in China and dedicated her time to martial arts. She’s always been a great martial artist, as well as a great soprano. That’s a very strange combination! (laughs) Finally, we reunited when I was about ten, eleven years old…I started studying martial arts with her, and then after two years we moved to Boston, where she opened up her Martial Arts Institute.

    RM: Around 1976, if memory serves…?

    DY: Around that time was when we moved to Boston, yes. I was about eleven. But you know, as a kid, an immigrant, your parents have no time for you. So what they do is work all day, and I was always a rebel and always curious about other forms of arts besides martial arts. I used to run around and explore different styles of martial arts…I was a little skinny kid in the bad parts of Boston, but that was the kind of person I was, I grew up with this curiosity and went out to explore.

    RM: Can you talk about when you first started doing martial arts films? Did you grow up watching them?

    DY: I grew up watching kung fu movies all the time, like most of you guys. I grew up in Chinatown and one of my hobbies was watch[ing] the double features at the movies–I used to watch every single one of them! Every one! Three, four movies a week…and I would imitate all the Jackie Chan movies, back in my Mom’s school.

    RM: Ip Man is now a household name…the fourth one is coming soon. Did you consider these movies a turning point in your career?

    DY: I try to take things one movie at a time. Even back in the days where my career was at the bottom…not even just [the] early stages, I’ve had some curves in my career. Back in ’97 when I directed my first film, I had a lot of financial problems. When I look back I think “wow, I had so many obstacles”, but I also had a couple of breaks…it’s really a long battle with my own career path. I just enjoy what I do, you know? Quite blessed the last twelve, fifteen years. Now I’m very fortunate I can choose my films, and choose the films I like.



    RM: I think it’s important to hear that, especially for people in this room, for fans of your career. No career goes [straight up]. Bruce Lee was the same, before he wrote his book…I know he’s been such a great inspiration to you, you’ve paid homage to him in different films. What did he mean to you when you first watched his films?

    DY: Like everybody else, I was a big fan. As a young teenager, I needed a role model, and being Chinese, I didn’t find anybody except for Bruce Lee. I guess as a martial artist, I tried to relate to him…you know, you gotta remember, during my era, we didn’t have a lot of luxuries. No iPhones, my family was working very hard. All my time was dedicated to martial arts. Also piano! (laughs) I come from a strange combination of music and martial arts…I did spend a lot of years studying piano, so I started to explore music too. I found a beat-up old piano at this Boys’ Club so I started learning the piano as a kid. When I was fifteen, I said to myself: “Should I play piano, or be a Kung Fu man?” But I never thought I could be the best musician, but I had this feeling inside that I could be the best martial artist. I still play piano–my kids do too, my wife. I still love music.

    RM: So, talking a little more about Bruce Lee, what was your first introduction to those films like?

    DY: My father used to take me to cinemas, and Bruce Lee was one of the [movie stars] we always watched. When I was older and started to practice martial arts, I really started to see the beauty in his films.

    RM: You’ve worked with Sammo Hung, who’s worked with Lee. Did you ever talk to him about Bruce Lee? Or Jackie Chan?

    DY: I’m sure I have, we’ve had lots of conversations. (laughs) The culture in Hong Kong film industry involves taking up different positions–he does different things, like directing, or fight choreography. I learnt lots from them, and through talking to them, about their knowledge and experience in the industry.

    RM: I want to go through some of the great martial arts figures and just ask you where you put them in the history of martial artistry. But first, I was thinking a lot about Rogue One, and the Zatoichi influences…

    DY: Zatoichi is a classic samurai…blind bladesman. I was inspired by him, yes. The director called me and asked me my thoughts on Chirrut. Chirrut wasn’t exactly like [he is in the film] in the script. He wasn’t supposed to be blind, but the director asked me, and I said “You know what? I think it’d be a lot cooler if he was blind.” (laughs) I also suggested Chirrut should have a sense of humour…the original role was slightly more cliche. “Oh, I’m getting Donnie Yen, be Chinese”, you know? I kind of felt like the world was ready…just because I’m Chinese, I don’t only eat rice! So we collaborated and it shaped the character to Chirrut. Some of the lines I even improvised on set–for example, the part when they cover my face, and I say “Are you kidding me? I’m blind!” I’m so used to improvisation, in my world. It got approved by Disney, and it stayed in the film.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  4. #64
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    Continued from previous post


    Source: inverse.com

    RM: [Chirrut] is such a beautifully drawn character, especially influenced by Zatoichi and such…

    DY: The inspiration was from several things, little bit of Japanese samurai movies, little bit of Ip Man…just years of me in my different roles. I was shaping the character on a daily basis as I was filming. I don’t believe you can totally understand the character until the end of the movie. During shooting, you’re constantly getting feedback from actors…you’re learning about the content of the story.

    RM: So your history with martial arts is an interesting one…

    DY: I might break people’s hearts, but I only started to study Wing Chun a few months before we began shooting Ip Man. You know, a lot of martial artists say to me: “Oh, thank you for what you’ve done, we greatly appreciate it.” For me, I’m a martial artist, it’s in my blood. The most important thing for me is “How do I use my films to connect with people?” I just got really lucky that some of these films also carry along some martial arts influences.

    RM: What do you think about someone like Jet Li?

    DY: It’s interesting that before Bruce Lee, there were these black and white kung fu movies. Poorly shot, very slow…not very realistic. Lee really brought along the realism. And then, Jackie Chan with the comedy and the acrobatics. Jet Li brought the Northern style of martial arts. You see a lot of the “1,2” choppy style, and there’s a reason for this. Kung fu movies started in Hong Kong, and in Hong Kong you have the different language and culture, and it’s very choppy. Cantonese is a very choppy language compared to Mandarin. Mandarin is like “ahhhh…”, like singing, but Cantonese is like “chop-chop-chop-chop!” So the style that we’ve been practising, like Wing Chun, the “1,2” style, that influenced the majority of the fighting styles in the movies. But Jet Li did the Northern style: all the flow, very fluid motions. From Jet Li, he basically changed the rhythm of Hong Kong action movies.

    RM: What do you think about Chuck Norris?

    DY: Every single [action star] has their own moments, and their own contributions to the genre during their own periods. I think modern technology’s taught us so much…we have iPhones, we can shoot movies by ourselves, we’re more sophisticated. You can’t necessarily look back at some of these seniors…they changed the whole history of martial arts films.

    RM: Sammo Hung recently said he wanted to start a school for martial arts movie making. He’s concerned about the future of martial arts filmmaking. What do you think about the future of martial arts movies?

    DY: I’m still changing and evolving and progressing. Every one of my films has something different about it because I’m evolving. It goes back to my statement at the beginning of our conversation, that I feel like I’m a student all over again. Every movie, I feel like there are more things to learn. I think only with this type of openness that you can bring these kind of films to that next level. You cannot sit back and say “Oh, in the past, we used to do that.” A lot of people still compliment [my old movies], but I don’t take it too seriously. I want to progress to another level. I’m always learning.

    Thank you to Donnie Yen, the MCM London team and The Modern School of Film for allowing us to sit in on the talk.
    Panel interviews can be choppy because you have a lot of random questions but this one has decent flow.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  5. #65
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    required propaganda

    You can see the ad if you follow the link.

    Chollywood rising enlists Jackie & Donnie, et.al.

    China requires all cinemas to show a three-minute-long propaganda video before every movie as Beijing tightens censorship

    The video was introduced into Chinese cinemas on July 1
    It features celebrities such as Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen speaking
    The video focuses on the 'Chinese dream' and not dissapointing your country

    By Sophie Williams For Mailonline
    PUBLISHED: 08:00 EDT, 6 July 2017 | UPDATED: 08:09 EDT, 6 July 2017

    Cinema goers in China are now subject to watching a three-and-a-half minute long propaganda video before watching the film they were intending to see.

    From now up until the 19th National People's Congress later this autumn, people will sit through the video aiming to promote national unity and 'the Chinese dream'.

    The video has had a mixed response with claims that some movie-goers have been avoiding going into the screening before the advert comes on.

    Screen idols star in Chinese Dream cinema campaign propaganda


    The video features many well-known Chinese figures sharing their views on China's dream


    Chan tells the audience: 'Country is good, people are good, everything will be good'

    The three-minute video was produced by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT).

    It will be shown from now up until the 19th People's Congress this coming autumn. During the People's Congress, President Xi will start his second five-year term as President.

    According to state-media, the video aims to help people better understand party policies.

    It includes famous Chinese actors such as Jackie Chan, Angelababy and recent Rogue One and IP man actor Donnie Yen.

    Jackie Chan tells the audience: 'The country is good, the people are good, everyone will be good. Everyone fight for the Chinese dream, only then can you get the dream to come true. The power of the Chinese dream.'


    Donnie Yen reads a quote from Mao Zedong in the video shown before a feature film

    The video starts out with patriotic music before saying: 'The Chinese dream is an international dream, people's dream, everyone's dream.'

    Chinese actress Li Bingbing can be heard saying: 'No matter what you do, as long as you respect the country, our society, our nation and our family, you are helping us to realise the Chinese dream.'

    A cinema employee in Beijing told the Global Times: 'Many came late for the movie just to avoid the short video and others complained about the video after watching the movie.'

    Many people have commented on the video on Chinese site Weibo.

    One user said: 'We must work hard together to create the Chinese dream!'

    While another wrote: 'The Chinese dream is the dream of every Chinese person and we should encourage it.'

    China makes further crackdown on its internet to curb anything that doesn't fall in line with socialist values


    All content posted on the internet is to be checked that it is in line with socialist values

    The advert comes as China announces further measures to crack down on the country's internet.

    Over the past month, Chinese regulators have closed gossip websites and restricted what videos people can post on the grounds of inappropriate content.

    Last week, an industry association circulated new regulations that require all audiovisual content posted online to be checked.

    Documentaries, micro movies, sports and educational material will all have to adhere to core 'socialist values.'

    Topics deemed not in line with these values include drug addiction and ****sexuality.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  6. #66
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    Congrats Donnie!

    More pix behind the link.


    Donnie Yen leaves hand and foot prints in Hollywood

    By Zhang Rui
    China.org.cn, December 1, 2016


    Hong Kong actor Donnie Yen places his hands in cement during a ceremony in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California, U.S., Nov. 30, 2016. [Photo / China.org.cn]

    Chinese Kung fu star Donnie Yen left his hand and footprints in cement at Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre Wednesday, making him the third Chinese martial artist to receive the honor.

    "Sometimes being an Asian actor is not easy. Unfortunately, for many years, Asian actors didn't have the same, equal opportunities," the 53-year-old Hong Kong star said at the ceremony, attended by his wife Cissy Wang, family members, and guests, as well as President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn and Walt Disney Studios President Alan Bergman. "But I think that things have been changing. And I certainly would like to be one actor that sets a good example."

    Born in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, Yen came to Hong Kong -- where he lives now -- at the age of two and later moved to the United States, growing up in Boston's Chinatown.

    When he became involved in gang violence in Boston aged 16, his anxious parents sent him to Beijing, where he spent two years training with the famed Beijing wushu team, studying with the same masters as Jet Li. Yen's turning point came when the veteran film director and action choreographer Yuen Wo-ping discovered him and helped him break into movies as a new kung fu hero.

    Overshadowed over the years by Jackie Chan and action stars, Yen has been gradually breaking into Hollywood since appearing in Guillermo del Toro's "Blade II" in 2002.

    In China, Yen is credited by many for contributing to the popularization of the traditional martial arts style Wing Chun. He played Wing Chun grandmaster Yip Man, Bruce Lee's teacher, in his most famous works -- "Ip Man" trilogy, which was a big box office success receiving critical acclaim.

    Yen was the third Chinese kung fu star to leave his hand and footprints at Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre, following iconic Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. The TCL Chinese Theatre has over 200 handprints, footprints and autographs since 1920.

    "I hope this ceremony, this achievement, will inspire many Chinese actors -- not just Chinese actors, but many young actors -- that they, too, can achieve the same dream if they put enough hard work into it," he said.

    "The force is with me and the force is with everybody."

    Yen stars in the much-anticipated "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," which will show on Dec. 16. He plays a blind warrior monk who is part of a heroic squad of rebels that steals plans for the Death Star. The other heavyweight Chinese star in the film is actor-and-director Jiang Wen.

    He also stars opposite Vin Diesel in "xXx: Return of Xander Cage," which hits theaters on Jan. 20, 2017.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  7. #67
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    Prestige piece

    Nice interview.



    DONNIE YEN TALKS RACE IN HOLLYWOOD
    All while reshaping the traditional action star and daring to talk about the tough stuff.

    BY ZANETA CHENG ON JANUARY 1, 2018 , CELEBRITIES

    Donnie Yen is a fighter. You don’t say, is what you’re probably thinking, but hear me out.

    Since the success of the first Ip Man in 2008, Yen has been catapulted to international stardom. Hollywood came knocking. He’s now known in Chinese-speaking circles as “the strongest man in the universe”, thanks to his role as the blind monk Chirrut Îmwe in Rogue One, part of the inescapable and unrelenting Star Wars franchise. He starred opposite Vin Diesel in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, tearing down wide American boulevards on a motorcycle and throwing punches at the bad guys. In November 2016, Yen made his hands-and-feet imprint at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. It would seem as though he’s embraced Hollywood with a fervour, but as it turns out he went to Tinseltown to do battle.

    “I made them wait almost 10 years,” Yen says, when I ask what made him decide to participate in the second instalment of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, one of his first major international roles. It interests me that Yen turned down a Hollywood role even before Marvel and DC began grudgingly to insert one lone, rogue Chinese actor into their otherwise whitewashed blockbusters, to appeal to the mighty mainland market. Why, I ask, hoping to understand his reticence at a time when Chinese actors still aspired to follow in the footsteps of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee?


    Shirt: Lanvin, Jacket: Berluti, Trousers: Fendi, Shoes: Tom Ford, Sunglasses: Alexander McQueen

    “I was not intrigued, not inspired. I wasn’t convinced by the roles they offered me, no matter how sweet the talk was,” he says. “We were at a big event held by Dalian Wanda a year before I agreed to do Crouching Tiger. Everybody under the sun came. I remember hanging out with Leonardo DiCaprio eating pizza, just chilling. It felt great because, I mean, these are people who wouldn’t normally sit at a table in China, hanging out with Chinese actors, eating pizza. I remember thinking – this is how it should’ve been for a long time. The producer was there saying, ‘Donnie just do this movie blah, blah, blah.’”

    “But I had no interest in Crouching Tiger. I’d done it all. I’ve done martial-arts movies all my life. There’s no challenge in playing that role. The reason I was finally convinced was because my mentor, Yuen Woo-ping – the man who brought me into the industry – was going to direct it, so I said yes because it was a matter of respect and face, but that’s it. I said it to the producer’s face, too. I wasn’t that interested.”

    But then came Star Wars and Yen signed up. The prevailing reason is because of his children’s enthusiasm for the franchise, but there’s more than that, Yen saw an opportunity. “When I took on the role in Rogue One, I felt it was important for me to take a step forward, to develop it so that it would be less clichéd,” he says. “I know they wanted Donnie Yen because he’s Ip Man. They wanted Ip Man in Rogue One. I get it. But I don’t want to portray another stereotypical Chinese martial-arts man. I worked with the producer and director to develop his blindness, to change the lines, the way he looks and the way he speaks so that the character had an added layer.


    Shirt and jacket: Tom Ford

    “Even after all of that, Îmwe still came out a cliché. But if you think he’s a cliché on screen, you should’ve seen the original script they offered me. It was why I was initially hesitant to take on the role. But I understand why. They can’t have an overhaul overnight. There’s a large audience that has never watched Asians in films before, so it takes time for them to process an Asian actor. To realise that he’s no different from a Caucasian actor or a black actor.”

    While studios are still taking their sweet time introducing Asian faces to Western cinema, the very same ones are casting Chinese mega stars for films that want to make bank in the booming market of the Middle Kingdom. Big names – the likes of Fan Bingbing and Angelababy – have been slotted into feature-length blockbusters and given one line to mumble, to cater to the Chinese market. Unsurprisingly, this tactic has failed.

    When I mention this to Yen and suggest that Hollywood might be wise to adjust, he’s quick to jump in. “They’d better adjust,” he says. “They need to learn from their mistakes. Look at all these actors and actresses that now say no. It proves it doesn’t work. You can’t just put an Asian actor in there and expect that, because they show up for a second, you’ve covered the Asian market. That is a joke.


    Jacket and Trousers: Dsquared2, Jumper: Sandro

    “I’m glad Asian actors are stepping up and saying no. If you’re gonna spend months away from home and devote time in your life to work on a film it had better be worth it.”

    So what does Yen find worth his time? Constant revolution, it seems.

    Back home and away from paving the way for Asian actors to have more depth in American movies, he’s working on reshaping the perception of action stars – and it’s to his credit that he’s beginning to be lauded as much for his acting as his martial-arts mastery.

    This year, Yen produced Chasing the Dragon, a film directed by Wong Jing and set in 1960s and ’70s Hong Kong, in which he also portrays Crippled Ho, based on the notorious Hong Kong gangster Ng Sek-ho (or Limpy Ho, as he was known at the time). To prepare for the character, Yen asked for the opinion of stage actors to bring an added dimension to his years of screen acting. He reworked his standard Hong Kong Cantonese into a bawdy Chiu Chow accent. The usually nimble Wing Chun master becomes a feisty cripple with a bad leg. Yen even made the trip to Ng Sek-ho’s hometown in China to give himself the space to enter the mind of the man.

    But what Yen really loves is to breathe new life into tried-and-true stories. “From day one of filming Chasing the Dragon I knew I wanted to incorporate soul train, disco and funk,” he says. “I lived through the ’60s and the ’70s so I said, ‘You know what, you put these elements into a Hong Kong gangster movie, you’ll give it a new flavour.’ Most traditional gangster movies use saxophone scores, sad stuff. Other directors use more pop stuff, John Lennon, straight-laced white stuff. It occurred to me that Hong Kong movies rarely use strong black music.”

    “If you look at films like Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, everyone is a gangster, but you don’t get that sense of melancholy and depression. They’re all happy and really cool. That’s what I wanted Chasing the Dragon to be. The film might be telling a sad story at the end of the day, but throughout the journey, for the characters, I wanted there to be a sense that it was a big long party.”


    Shirt: Dunhill, Waistcoat Philip Plein, Bow tie: Brooks Brothers, Bracelet: Diana Zhang, Watch: Donnie’s own, Glasses: Lobmeyr HK

    Chasing the Dragon is as dark as it’s sad. Yen is more than happy to delve into and grapple with the relationship between British colonial rulers and Hong Kong subjects. “These are all facts,” he says without compunction. “Hong Kong was a British colony and for decades places like The Hong Kong Club were inaccessible to the local Hong Kong Chinese. It’s all very true. We Chinese were suppressed for the longest time, and during that era this was just a fact of life.”

    There’s a difference between knowing that there’s an elephant in the room and blowing it out into the open, I posit. “But why wouldn’t I tell it?” he says. “I think it’s not told enough. I mean, it was only a two-hour film, so we could only touch on the political circumstances and the racial discrimination. But it’s been going on for hundreds of years. Not only in Hong Kong. This is a social ill. White supremacy has been a social reality for hundreds of years. If you’re telling a story about the 1970s there’s no way to avoid this.”

    Is this, then, what Yen wants audiences to take away? For all the tough stories he loves to tell, that’s emphatically not the message. “At the end of the day,” he says, “a successful film delivers a story about humanity. No matter the subject matter. No matter the political message. The most important thing is humanity.

    “It’s about the human propensity to face any hurdle regardless of caste or creed. Crippled Ho’s hurdle was to live under British rule because he was born into that era. So he faced a lot – but I wanted to use this character to say that in life, for anybody, what matters at the end of the day are family, friends, principles, and above all, integrity.”

    ——————————-

    Photography Simon C

    Art direction and Styling Harrylam

    Styling Assistant Sam Fung

    Make-Up Little White

    Hair Jacky Leung

    Rogue One

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  8. #68
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    Donnie is spot on. Good for him. If you don't value and respect your own integrity and self-worth, nobody else will, either.

    I remember back when I was into acting, one of my acting coaches asked me if I could do a Japanese accent when speaking English. He was white, and had mentioned more than once that he was originally from Texas, and that how he speaks when he's acting and teaching classes is not his real accent. He said he never used his real Texas, good ol' boy accent, because he said that casting directors would typecast him into a stereotyped Texan/southerner. So he developed his 'generic' American way of speaking.

    I told this particular acting coach that no, I could not do a Japanese accent and never would. He said it would help with more casting opportunities. How ironic that he himself didn't want to be typecast, yet felt it was perfectly okay for me to be. I said ____ that.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 01-04-2018 at 02:45 PM.

  9. #69
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    City of Dreams

    Donnie Yen Stars as Napoleon and Du Juan Stars as Resplendant Empress in City of Dreams’ Triumphant New Campaign



    CORPORATE NEWS MEDIA-OUTREACH Jun 15, 2018

    The iconic duo team up with pioneering photographer Nick Knight to create images that boldly encapsulate the spirit of victory

    MACAU, CHINA - Media OutReach - J une 15, 2018 - Martial arts superstar Donnie Yen and actress / international supermodel Du Juan have teamed up with one of the world's most influential photographers, Nick Knight , for City of Dreams' stunning new brand campaign. Known for consistently challenging conventional notions of beauty in his ground-breaking creative collaborations with fashion icons and labels such as Kate Moss, Alexander McQueen and Comme des Garçons, Knight is a world renowned visionary as well as director of SHOWstudio.com. He was also the official portrait photographer for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles for the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations. This is the first time Knight has collaborated with a hospitality brand.



    The image of Donnie Yen is inspired by classical paintings of Napoleon Bonaparte, the 19th -century Emperor of France, with the famed 'Napoleon at the Saint-Bernard Pass' by artist Jacques-Louis David depicting the Emperor in all his glory atop a white Arab stallion.



    Du Juan plays an Empress dressed in a sophisticated China rouge gown sitting on a throne, radiating the spirit of power and victory. The key visual of Du Juan is inspired by the 15th century painting 'A Muse (Calliope?)' by Italian Renaissance artist Cosimo Tura.

    The trailblazing campaign shot in the UK encapsulates the sensation of personal triumph that is synonymous with City of Dreams, through a creative concept featuring iconic portraits of key figures in history interpreted by Donnie Yen and Du Juan . The striking visuals combine elements of East and West, blending tradition with a modern twist to boldly personify power and heroism.

    "It is always such a pleasure to work with talented and driven people, and to do so on the campaign for City of Dreams, home of the one of a kind Morpheus hotel, which is reshaping the concept of hospitality for the modern world, was doubly exciting," said Nick Knight . "The bold and revolutionary design by the revered Zaha Hadid served as a constant source of inspiration, while Donnie Yen and Du Juan are great actors, who worked really hard to bring the images to life."

    Donnie Yen added: "I am an experienced horse rider, however shooting this particular photo portraying Napoleon on a white horse was extra memorable. Donning the outfit and being on the dramatic set built by Nick's team, I was instantly transported to a world of grandeur."

    Du Juan said: "I am honored to be part of the 'dream' team behind this sensational shoot . I felt very confident sitting on the throne as the Empress, and am delighted with the results: the images are truly spectacular!"

    The cornerstone of City of Dreams' Phase III development and the world's first free-form exoskeleton-bound high-rise architectural composition, Morpheus hotel will be unveiled tomorrow, June 15. Known as 'The Icon of the New Macau', the architecturally unique masterpiece was designed by the late Dame Zaha Hadid DBE -- the first woman ever to be awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.

    The 'making-of' video of the brand campaign can be downloaded at: http://www.cityofdreamsmedia.com/Beh...ndCampaign.mp4
    Cool pix. I'm sold.
    Gene Ching
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  10. #70
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    #bottlecapchallenge

    I've been meaning to post about this martial arts trend, maybe start a thread, but I think Donnie just won it.

    It's an embedded vid in his instagram channel so you have to click through to see it.

    donnieyenofficial's profile picture
    donnieyenofficial
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    Bullet Films Productions Limited
    Click video for sound

    1,340,690 views
    donnieyenofficial's profile picture
    donnieyenofficial
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    Chirrut feeling the force + Ip man’s steady aim + no plastic bottle = the universe strongest ��
    #bottlecapchallenge @sweetcil #donnieyen #甄子丹 #宇宙最強 #ipman #action #宇宙最強甄子丹 #chirrutimwe #starwars #rogueone #noplasticbottle #torontoraptors #nbachampions #raptors #bulletfilms #superbulletpictures @bulletfilmsofficial @superbulletpictures

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  11. #71
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    Respect!

    ‘China will win the coronavirus battle’: Ip Man star Donnie Yen donates HK$1 million to frontline medical workers in Wuhan
    The 56-year-old star and film producer posts a 28-second video clip on Weibo thanking frontline medical staff
    The Hong Kong actor’s donation comes at the back of two successful movie releases lately
    Unus Alladin
    Published: 5:50pm, 19 Feb, 2020


    A sombre Donnie Yen thanks medical workers in his 28-second video clip on Weibo. Photo: Weibo

    Ip Man star Donnie Yen Ji-dan will donate HK$1 million to medical staff working on the frontline in the fight to eliminate the coronavirus. And he believes China will win the battle.
    Yen has been in the news lately with his finale of the Ip Man franchise bringing the curtain down on a highly successful series. His latest movie release, Enter the Fat Dragon, has also received positive reviews, giving him a solid foothold in the martial arts movie industry this year.


    Donnie Yen gets serious in Ip Man 4: The Finale. Photo: Mandarin Motion Pictures

    The 56-year-old Hong Kong martial arts star and film producer turned to a more serious note when he told thousands of his followers on Chinese website, Weibo, that he wanted to thank all medical workers in China in their fight against the coronavirus.
    The Guangzhou-born star said paintings drawn by his two children, Jasmine and James, would also be donated to Wuhan to help “spread cheer” to frontline workers.
    Wuhan is the epicentre of the coronavirus that has ravaged much of Hubei province and other parts of China. The deadly virus has spread to more than 25 countries.


    Ip Man 4 is a fitting end to the franchise. Photo: Mandarin Motion Pictures

    Speaking in Mandarin, Yen made a 28-second video which he posted on Weibo. A sombre-looking Yen said: “Hello everyone, I am Yen Ji-dan. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the medical frontline workers [in China]. In this critical moment, everyone please protect yourself well by wearing a mask and washing your hands more often. Distance yourself from the virus but don’t distance love. I believe our country [China] will win the battle against the virus and have the situation under control. Wuhan add oil [come on], China add oil.”
    Ip Man 4 star Donnie Yen ‘very disappointed’ by Quentin Tarantino’s Bruce Lee depiction
    12 Dec 2019

    Having wowed movie audiences with the fourth and final instalment of the highly popular Ip Man series in Ip Man 4: The Finale, Yen has enjoyed a new lease of life with his latest movie, an action-packed buddy-cop comedy, Enter the Fat Dragon, which was released during the Lunar New Year holidays.


    Donnie Yen in a still from Enter the Fat Dragon. Photo: Mega-Vision Pictures

    Ip Man 4: The Finale broke box office records in several Asian markets such as Taiwan and Malaysia, ending the series on a bright note as one the most popular martial arts franchises in movie history.
    His HK$1 million donation, which has been reported by the mainland media, triggered some positive love from his fans on Weibo. “Donnie is awesome and what he says is so warm and full of love!” said one Weibo user.
    Yen is a well-known philanthropist, donating millions of dollars to charity over the years.
    In 2012, Yen and his wife Sissy Wang, co-founded Go.Asia, an online charity platform that encourages individuals to participate in charity work while serving local communities. Yen also served as an ambassador for the international charity Save the Children in 2015 and has supported other noble causes.
    Yen is not the first Hong Kong martial arts star to help the Wuhan cause.
    Fellow kung fu superstar Jackie Chan reportedly offered to pay one million yuan as a reward to whoever develops a vaccine for the coronavirus.


    Unus Alladin
    Unus Alladin is an award-winning sports journalist. He has covered the Hong Kong and international sports scene for more than 35 years, ranging from Formula One to the Olympic Games.

    I'm going to see Enter the Fat Dragon tonight.

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  12. #72
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    Niki on Donnie

    Donnie Yen's martial arts skills made my jaw drop, says Mulan director
    MARCH 03, 2020
    By BRYAN LIMASIAONE


    Donnie Yen (left) as Commander Tung and director Niki Caro.
    Disney, Screengrab from YouTube/Walt Disney Studios

    Hong Kong actor Donnie Yen may have left his iconic Ip Man role behind, but he's still kicking ass and taking names.

    In his new role as Commander Tung in Disney's live-action movie Mulan, his prowess with a sword left director Niki Caro gobsmacked. She told AsiaOne via email that her jaw "hit the floor" after she witnessed his brilliant display with the weapon.


    Donnie Yen as Commander Tung in Mulan. PHOTO: Screengrab from YouTube/Walt Disney Studios

    Caro, 53, recounted: "One of my favourite moments on set was the first time I experienced Donnie Yen's martial arts skills in real life. As Commander Tung, he does a sword display in front of all the recruits and my jaw hit the floor.

    "The way that man moves, and the way he moves his sword — (it was) so fast I literally couldn't see it move in real time. I had to shoot the sequence again in slow motion, just so I could see what he was doing. It was astonishing!"

    For the adaptation of the beloved 1998 Disney animated hit, the filmmaker has assembled some of the biggest Asian names in showbiz. Aside from Donnie, heavy hitters such as Jet Li, Gong Li, and Cheng Pei-pei are also part of the production, and Caro found the experience of working with an extraordinary cast of "almost entirely ethnically Chinese representing the breadth of Chinese experience" to be a dream.


    Jet Li as the Emperor and Gong Li as a powerful witch. PHOTO: Disney

    She added: "Jet Li brought gravitas and heart to the role of the Emperor. Working with Gong Li on a character that's a counterpoint to Mulan was a creative highlight of working on this film. Cheng Pei-pei's brilliant comedic timing provides a fun wink and a nod for the fans of the animated classic."

    As for the titular heroine, Caro asserted that no one else could have inhabited the role apart from Chinese actress Liu Yifei. Not only did Yifei embody the physicality and tenacity of Mulan, she also "raised the bar and inspired all of us".

    Caro explained: "During the first round of casting, we did an extensive tour of China and found some young women that were amazing, but I never felt that we'd truly found our warrior. A year later, Yifei came to Los Angeles to meet with me, and ended up in the audition room with absolutely no sleep.

    "She was required to do five dialogue scenes, one of which was five pages long, but she never faltered. I saw immediately how strong of an actor she is. Then we sent her to a gruelling physical assessment. Again, she never complained. She never quit. I knew I had found my warrior."

    'CULTURAL AUTHENTICITY WAS DISCUSSED AT EVERY STEP'

    Stepping in as director for a film that's culturally significant to those of Chinese descent meant Caro had to convince naysayers before her work even started, as she is of Western descent and hails from New Zealand. However, she is confident in her ability to surpass the cultural barrier based on her previous works.

    With previous projects like McFarland USA (a film adaptation of the true story of a Mexican-American cross country team) and Whale Rider (a film about a Maori girl who proves to the men in her tribe and her grandfather that she can be a leader), Caro maintained that she's dedicated to "authenticity" and "collaborating across communities" to deliver "epic films with deep cultural roots".


    One of the locations featured in Mulan. PHOTO: Disney

    And it was the same approach she took with Mulan.

    "Cultural authenticity was discussed at every step of the process. My approach was to steep myself in research and surround myself with a diverse creative team representing different perspectives on Chinese identity, culture, and people. This influenced every aspect of production, leading to authentic cultural celebration and perspective," she explained.

    To honour the ballad and the Chinese culture, the research process started during the writing of the script and continued through to pre-production, production and post-production. The script was also workshopped with "a diverse group of Chinese diasporic writers" whose notes and perspectives were incorporated.


    Caro (left) and Hong Kong-American actor Tzi Ma on set. PHOTO: Disney

    Caro revealed that each department conducted deep research into Chinese culture, painting, history, and accounts of war, so that every detail was as authentic as possible. She said: "We researched matchmaking services, trading along the Silk Road, and the incredible beauty and diversity of China. We took the responsibility of telling this story authentically so seriously."

    WHY NO MUSHU?

    When details of the live-action film were announced, fans of the animated classic were dismayed to hear that the adaptation had several major differences - such as the removal of songs and characters like Captain Li Shang (Mulan's love interest) and her dragon companion Mushu.

    In a recent interview with Collider, producer Jason Reed explained that Li Shang was removed in light of the #MeToo movement because they felt it was uncomfortable and inappropriate to have a commanding officer who is also a sexual love interest. Instead, the character has been split into Mulan's mentor Commander Tung and Honghui, her "equal in the squad".


    Liu Yifei (left) as Mulan and Yoson An as Honghui. PHOTO: Disney

    As for the songs, Caro previously said that the music from the 1998 film will be honoured in a "very significant" way. It was also recently reported that Reflection singer Christina Aguilera has recorded new material for the movie, including a new take on the iconic ballad.

    But when it came to Mushu, Caro explained to us that his removal was to make certain elements of the animated classic "more relevant for audiences today".

    Caro added: "But we still love the humour and companionship for Mulan that he brought to the animated classic, so we found those traits in some new characters. We hope the fans will enjoy this new take!"

    Mulan opens in Singapore on March 26.
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  13. #73
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    Donnie's take on HK

    News
    Martial Arts / Kung Fu
    Donnie Yen celebrates Hong Kong’s ‘return’ to the motherland – ‘I am fighting for the Chinese people
    The Hong Kong actor and Ip Man star posts Facebook video playing the piano with Lang Lang for Xi Jinping
    The 56-year-old Guangzhou-born film producer posted the comment in response to a user calling his post ‘tragic’
    Patrick Blennerhassett
    Published: 1:49pm, 3 Jul, 2020


    Donnie Yen in a still from Ip Man 4: The Finale. Photo: Handout
    Hong Kong martial arts actor Donnie Yen Ji-dan made a congratulatory post on his official Facebook page on July 1 in relation to Hong Kong’s Establishment Day.
    The 56-year-old Ip Man star posted a video montage of himself playing piano, with an accompanying caption.
    “Today is the celebration day for Hong Kong returned to motherland China 23 years,” he wrote.
    “Recalling such memorable night in 2017 where I had the privilege to performed with piano Maestro Lang Lang for Chairman Xi [Jinping] and wife along with several hundred guests who came to watch the show and celebrated the night!”

    Yen replied to a Facebook user’s comment that said: “He probably has a 100 million reasons. But indeed tragic seeing a such talented person like Donnie fighting for the people on set but unable to do the same in real life.”

    He wrote: “I am fighting for the Chinese people which indeed for the longest time, been undermined and disrespected, but worst abused.”

    In February, Yen donated HK$1 million to frontline medical workers in Wuhan during the initial Covid-19 outbreak which ravaged the mainland Chinese city.
    Yen, who last starred in Enter the Fat Dragon (2020), said at the end of last year that Ip Man 4 would be his final kung fu film.


    Patrick Blennerhassett
    Patrick Blennerhassett is an award-winning Canadian journalist and four-time published author. He is a Jack Webster Fellowship winner and a British Columbia bestselling novelist. He has covered sport for the South China Morning Post since 2018
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  14. #74
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    Shoulda seen this coming...

    #BoycottMulan Trends Again After Donnie Yen Celebrates Hong Kong’s Return to ‘Motherland’
    Donnie Yen

    Martial arts star Donnie Yen recently celebrated Hong Kong’s handover to China, sparking heavy criticism from fans and renewed calls to #BoycottMulan.



    Pro-Beijing post: Yen, who plays Commander Tung in Disney’s upcoming live-action Mulan remake, becomes the film’s second cast member along with lead Liu Yifei to spark backlash from fans.

    On July 1, Yen took to Facebook to mark Hong Kong’s handover day, which commemorates the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China in 1997 and the eventual establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
    “Today is the celebration day for Hong Kong returned to motherland China 23 years [sic],” the Chinese-born actor wrote.
    He also fondly remembered performing for Chinese President and Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping back in 2017, calling it a “memorable night.”
    In Hong Kong, the anniversary of the July 1 handover is celebrated as the Establishment Day and marked with “fireworks displays, live music, and dragon dances,” according to Public Holidays HK.
    It has also become the platform for political movements demanding universal suffrage.
    Yen is now being criticized in Hong Kong for his opinion of Xi Jinping amid Beijing’s recent imposition of the controversial national security law.
    The new law, which many views as a threat to civil liberties, has since sparked a new round of pro-democracy protests in the city.
    This article has a bunch of tweets after the it. Follow the link if you're interested.

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  15. #75
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    I’d hate to be a China/Hong Kong celebrity. It seems they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. They’re probably encouraged (or expected) to support the government. Then he or she loses any fans they had who are pro-democracy. If they choose a pro-democracy stance, they risk being blackballed or censored in China (or everywhere, due to China’s financial influence).

    I wonder if any of them are even allowed to just keep silent and not discuss politics, or if it’s even a choice.

    I have a lot of respect for Chow Yun-Fat and the stance he took.

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