Jet Li vs Donnie Yen: two of the most recognizable martial artists in Hollywood. So, what will happen if these two stars squared up against each other in a street fight? Who has the physical advantage? Who is stronger and quicker? We’ll be looking at these and more in today’s video. Before we get into the face-off, let’s look at the backgrounds of these two stars.
Jet Li is a Chinese-born Singaporean who was born in Beijing, China on April 26, 1963. He is an actor, martial artist, director, film producer and author. Jet Li captured the hearts of many movie fans when he started in the 1994 movie “Fist of Legend” and the 2002 movie “Zhang Yimou”. After losing his father at the young age of 2, he became interested in martial arts, particularly wushu. At the age of 8, Li’s talent in wushu became obvious. He went on to join the Beijing Wushu Team and he was involved in the martial arts display by the team at the All-China Games, trained by renowned wushu coaches Li Junfeng and Wu Bin.
Li honed his martial arts talent and became the national all-round champion from 1975 to 1979. He achieved this at the tender age of 12. Over the years, Li has mastered several styles of wushu, including the Northern Long Fist style called “Chángquán” and the Tumbling Fist style also known as “Fānziquán”. He has also studied other styles including Supreme Ultimate Fist, Drunken Fist, Shape-Intent Fist and the praying Mantis Fist. Simply put, Li is a master of wushu art. Li has also mastered wushu’s main weapons including the Straight Sword or Jian, as it is called, the Sanjiegun or the Three Section Staff, Gùn and Dao, which is also called the Broadsword.
Unfortunately for Li, he had to cut short his competitive career in wushu at age 18 due to a serious knee injury. He however, went on to become the assistant coach of the Beijing Wushu Team for some years. Li’s wushu talent eventually brought him to the film industry. He began his acting career in Mainland China before moving to Hong Kong.
Li made his film debut in the 1982 film “Shaolin Temple” and later starred in the “Once Upon a Time in China” series, where he took on the role of legendary Chinese folk hero, master Wong Fei-hung. Li made his international acting debut in 1998 with a movie “Lethal Weapon”. He went on to star in many successful international movies including “Romeo Must Die”, “Kiss of a Dragon”, “Unleashed War” alongside Jason Statham, “The Forbidden Kingdom” with Jackie Chan, “The Expendables” and “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”.
Donnie Yen was born in Guangzhou, China in July 27, 1963. He is an actor, martial artist, film director, producer and action choreographer. When Yen turned 2, his family moved from China to Hong Kong and later to the United States where they settled in Boston. At a young age, Yen was introduced to martial arts by his mother and he experimented with several other martial arts styles including tai chi. At age 9, Yen started practicing kung fu and began focusing on wushu at age 14. He was later sent to Beijing on a 4-year training program with the Beijing Wushu Team, the same facility where Jet Li also trained. This was where the two stars met each other for the first time. At age 16, Yen took up taekwondo and he went on to earn a sixth degree black belt in the sport. On his return to the United States, Yen was a multiple winner in many wushu competitions and he is in fact, a multiple-time wushu world champion.
Donnie Yen is a firm believer in combining multiple martial arts to produce the most effective and harmonious style. In line with this philosophy, he pursued mastery in other martial arts styles, obtaining black and purple belts from judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu perspective. Aside from these, he is also skilled in boxing, kickboxing, jeet kune do, karate, wrestling, hapkido and wing chun.
Yen made his movie debut in the 1984 film “Drunken Tai Chi”. He clinched his breakthrough role in the movie “Once Upon a Time in China” too, where he fought against Jet Li’s character. He would later act alongside Li again, in the 2002 movie “Hero”. For a long time Yen worked as a choreographer in many Hollywood movies, but he made his biggest acting impact starring as the titular character in the 2000 movie “Ip Man”. He also gained recognition for playing Chirrut Îmwe in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and Xiang in 2017 film “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”.
Now that we know the backgrounds of these two superstars, let’s put them up against each other in a street fight. To do this, we’ll be judging both fighters based on four categories: martial arts pedigree, physique, skill and improvisation. Each fighter will receive a score out of 10 for each category. The fighter with the highest cumulative points will be declared the winner. So, let’s get on with it.
Martial Arts Pedigree
Jet Li is a wushu master. He was all-around national champion for 5 years in a row and was a coach of the Beijing Wushu Team. But in a street fight, Li’s limitation to wushu will not help him against a Donnie Yen, who seems to have mastered all the martial arts styles there are to learn.
Yen has a sixth degree black belt in taekwondo, a black belt in judo and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. To cap it off, he is a multiple world wushu tournament champion. That makes him a master in Jet Li’s area of expertise, but also skilled in other areas unlike Li. So, for this category we have to give 9 to Yen, 5 to Li.
Li stands at 5’6″. At 57, he weighs 66 kg. On the other hand, Yen who is also 57 years old, weighs 75 kg. We know they are both advanced in age but just by physical appearance, Yen is obviously the more buffed up of the two. And even at their age, he seems to be in a better physical shape. Li has been dealing with health issues for a while now including hyperthyroidism. So, this round goes to Yen. 7 for Yen, 5 for Li.
With a combination of several martial arts techniques, Donnie Yen will prove a formidable opponent for Li. Donnie Yen’s skill set is more suited to a street fight than Li’s. In fact, Li has been quoted admitting how difficult it can be to keep up with fast athletes. Well, with Donnie, he’ll be facing a dynamo. Again, Donnie Yen wins here. 9 to Yen, 7 to Li.
It’s a bit difficult to tell who will come out on top here. With Yen’s skill combination, he might be able to pull something out of the blue in a street fight. On the other hand, Li seems to be more methodical. It’s close, but we’ll give it to Yen. 7 to Yen, 6 to Li.
So, who comes out tops? Donnie Yen wins, 32 points in this hypothetical fight, while Jet Li comes in with 23.
Sorry folks. In our estimation, this is a landslide victory for Donnie Yen. Do you agree with this? Let us know what you think in the comment section. For more videos like this, be sure to hit the subscribe button and the bell icon right beside it so you don’t miss any of our future videos. Thanks for watching.
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