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Tatler Hong Kong|December 2021
Donnie Yen’s career has taken him from Hong Kong to Hollywood, but he is more devoted than ever to his roots
Oliver Giles
Five years ago, Donnie Yen transformed almost overnight from a Hong Kong martial artist into a Hollywood star when he appeared as the blind warrior monk Chirrut Îmwe in Rogue One, the first Star Wars spin-off film. From then on, the blockbuster jobs have kept coming: in 2017 he co-starred with Vin Diesel and Samuel L Jackson in the action flick XXX: Return of Xander Cage, and he played the wise Commander Tung in Disney’s big-budget 2020 remake of Mulan. At the time of writing, he is in Paris with Keanu Reeves, filming John Wick: Chapter 4.

But the more success Yen has had abroad, the more he has been thinking about his hometown, Hong Kong.

“The Hong Kong style of action filmmaking has impacted the world for the last four decades, from Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan and Jet Li and myself,” he says. “But now the Hong Kong industry says, ‘Oh, this is old school. We can’t do this any more. Young people don’t watch these films.’ I disagree with that totally. Hong Kong filmmakers have taken the action genre for granted—they don’t see this gem, this beauty. They are following American blockbusters, instead of looking at what we’ve done best for the longest time.”

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