The transcript below is from the video “Donnie Yen Sends 8 Men To Hospital | Donnie Yen Documentary” by Trend Loops Network.

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One of Hong Kong’s top action stars, Donnie Yen Ji-Dan is a versatile actor, martial artist, producer, director, and choreographer. He is widely credited for bringing Mixed Martial Arts into mainstream Asian cinema by choreographing MMA in most of his films since 2000.

Donnie Yen is well-versed in an array of martial arts and has displayed his super skills in Tai Chi, Kickboxing, Karate, MuayThai, Hung Ga, Judo, Wing Chun, Taekwondo, and Wushu. He’s also known for playing a vital role in the popularization of Wing Chun in China. After Yen portrayed the Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man in the Ip Man film series, which was a massive success, it led to an increase in the number of people taking interest in Wing Chun with hundreds of schools being opened in China and other parts of Asia.

Yen, is no doubt, one of the most famous and highest-paid actors in Asia. He earned a whopping amount of $28.4 million from 4 films and 6 advertisements alone in 2013. So how did Yen become so successful? What’s his life story and personal life? Well, that’s what we are going to discuss in this video. Let’s start!

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Early Life

Yen was born on July 27, 1963, in Guangzhou, Guandong, China. His father, Klyster Yen, was a newspaper editor while his mother, Bow-sim Mark, was a Fu Style Wudangquan and Tai Chi grandmaster. When Yen was only two years of age, his family moved to Hong Kong and later to the USA, settling in Boston when he was 11.

Under the influence of his mother, Yen developed an interest in martial arts at a young age and started practicing various styles such as Tai Chi and other Chinese traditional martial arts. After dropping out of school at the age of 14, he started practicing Wushu seriously, and looking at Yen’s interest, his parents sent him to Beijing on a 4-year training program with the Beijing Wushu Team. During his return to the US, Yen made a side-trip to Hong Kong where he met action choreographer Yuen Woo-ping.

Yen also loved to play musical instruments since childhood, as his mother is a soprano, in addition to being a martial arts teacher in Boston, while his father is a violinist. He also knows breakdancing and hip-hop dancing.

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Now let’s discuss Yen’s filmy career step-by-step.

Beginnings to the ‘90s

Yen began his filmy career from the movie Drunken Tai Chi in 1984 in which he played a starring role. He then worked in many famous movies such as Tiger cage, Once Upon a Time in China II, Iron Monkey, and Hero. In Hero, yen played a spear who fought with Li’s character and this film was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2003 Academy Awards. In 1995, he starred as Chen Zhen in the famous television series Fist of Fury produced by ATV.
Dannie Yen made his directorial debut in 1997 and started his production company Bullet Films. He played a lead character in Legend of the Wolf and Ballistic Kiss. Then things started to be a bit nasty for Yen and the films produced by his own production company did not do well at the box office. At age 34, he almost went bankrupt.

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The 2000s: Breakthrough Success

Later, Yen went back to the US where he was invited to choreograph fight scenes in Hollywood films such as Blade II and Highlander: Endgame. He also played a cameo role in both of these movies. In 2002, Jet Li was filming the movie Hero and he wanted Yen to play the role of Sky. So he invited Dannie Yen back to Hong Kong and the two super-stars were seen together on screen for the second time since Once Upon a Time in 1992.

Dannie Yen continued to be active in Hong Kong cinema in the 2000s and featured in many epic films such as Seven Swords, SPL, Sha Po Lang, and also co-starred with Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue in Wilson Yip’s Dragon Tiger Gate. For his out-class performance, Yen won the award for Best Action Choreography at the Golden Horse Film Awards and the Hong Kong Film Awards for his eye-catching performance in Flash Point. In 2008, Dannie Yen played a leading role in the Ip Man that marked his fourth collaboration with director Wilson Yip. The IpMan became the biggest box office hit to date, grossing HK$25 Million in Hong Kong only and more than 100 million Yuan in China.

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From 2010-2020

Dannie Yen had also played comedy roles in All’s Well, Ends Well 2011 and 2012 which obtained huge box-office success and proved Yen’s versatility as an actor. In 2011, Yen took a six-month break after filming The Monkey King 3D to spend some more time with his family. He returned to the film industry in 2012 and commenced the filming of Special ID in which he played the main lead and as an action choreographer.

In December 2015, the Ip Man 3 was released in which Yen had reprised his role as the titular character, Bruce Lee’s martial arts master, I Man. This movie also starred the former MMA heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and was a massive success around the world.

Hold on to your seats because there’s a lot more exciting to come. In 2016, Yen replaced Jet Li in the role of Xiang in the action film XXX: Return of Xander Cage. Due to the captivating acting of Yen, he received extremely positive responses from critics and fans all around the world and credited him as the highlight of the movie. This movie turned out to be a box office hit crossing the $100 million mark in just 6 days.

At the request of Alibaba CEO Jack Ma and old friend Jet Li, Yen also starred in a short martial arts film known as Gong ShouDao to promote a new form of Chinese martial art Taiji. He declined any salary for this movie by stating, “Friendship is not measured by money.”

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Personal Life

Now it’s time to discuss some personal facts about this great actor and martial artist. He first dated a Hong Kong advertising executive, Leung Zing-ci in 1990 and after three years, married secretly in the US. However, only after 1 year of their marriage, they part ways and divorce. In 1995, Leung gave birth to a son, Jeff. Later, in 2003, yen married the beauty queen Cissy Wang. The couple has two children, Jasmine and James.

Not only Yen is a great actor, but he is also extremely generous and a social worker too. He and his wife co-founded Go Asia, an online charity platform in 2012. It aims to serve the local communities and encourage people to participate in social work. With the purpose to empower celebrities to use the law to defend their honor and reputation, Dannie Yen established a charitable fund, yen’s Honor Protection Fund, in 2015. He also stepped forward during the Covid-19 pandemic and donated HK$1 million to the frontline medical workers in Wuhan, China.

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Donnie Yen and Martial Arts

Yen describes himself as a mixed martial artist and is well-versed in Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Karate, Boxing, Wushu, and kickboxing. He has also won several gold medals in several wushu competitions and obtained black and purple belts from Judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Yen’s exposure to martial arts was heightened when he went back to the US from 2000 to 2003 and showcased this talent in films like Flash Point, Special ID, SPL: Sha Po Lang, etc.
In Dannie Yen’s opinion, combining many martial arts together produces the most productive and harmonious style and has once said, “When you watch my films, you’re feeling my heart.”

World-class fighters like the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le and Mike Tyson have also described Dannie Yen as an incredible martial artist and have once stated that yen can do pretty well in authentic combat. One occasion that can confirm this statement is when Dannie Yen beat up 8 members of a gang alone when they tried to harass his girlfriend, Joey Meng at a nightclub in the late 90s.

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Action Choreography

Having been invited to Hollywood to choreograph blockbusters such as Highlander: Endgame, Blade II, and Shanghai Knights, Donnie Yen was considered one of the best action choreographers in the world. He is the action choreographer for most of his movies and has won numerous awards for his amazing choreography such as the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Action Choreography at the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards and the Golden Horse Award for Best Action Choreography at the 2008 and 2011 Golden Horse Awards. The versatile actor has also won awards for his brilliant choreography in films like Kung Fu Jungle and The Twins Effect.

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Bodybuilding and Transformation for Roles

As a mixed martial artist, the remarkable physical fitness, strength, and speed of Yen must not be a surprise for you, as he follows a strict fitness regimen. However, he is known to go to any length to achieve the physical build-up and appearance of the characters he plays in the movies.
In 2007, to better portray the slender Ip Man and techniques of Wing Chun, Yen lost over 14 kg to reach the weight of 54kg. In 2010, Dannie Yen again regained his muscular physique in 6 months for his role as Chen Zhen in the Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. He has done this many times in his fabulous career which literally stuns the audience.

And with that, we’ve reached the end of the video. Hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know about the life and career of Dannie Yen. If you haven’t subscribed to our channel, make sure you do it now and also, press that notification icon. Till our next episode, it’s goodbye!

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