Sir Kent is Toylab's resident Film Critic
Donnie Yen (born 27 July 1963), also known as Yen Ji-dan (甄子丹), is a Hong Kong actor, Chinese martial artist, film director and producer, action choreographer, and multiple-time world wushu tournament champion.
Yen is credited by many for contributing to the popularization of the traditional martial arts style known as Wing Chun. He played Wing Chun grandmaster Yip Man in the 2008 film Ip Man, which was a box office success. This has led to an increase in the number of people taking up Wing Chun, leading to hundreds of new Wing Chun schools being opened up in mainland China and other parts of Asia. Ip Chun, the eldest son of Ip Man, even mentioned that he is grateful to Yen for making his family art popular and allowing his father's legacy to be remembered.
Yen is considered to be one of Hong Kong's top action stars; director Peter Chan mentioned that he "is the 'it' action person right now" and "has built himself into a bona fide leading man, who happens to be an action star." Yen is widely credited for bringing mixed martial arts (MMA) into the mainstream of Chinese culture, by choreographing MMA in many of his recent films. Yen has displayed notable skills in a wide variety of martial arts, being well-versed in Tai chi chuan, boxing, kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do, Hapkido, Taekwondo, karate, Muay Thai, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Wing Chun, and Wushu. Seen as one of the most popular film stars in Asia in recent years, Yen was one of the highest paid actors in Asia in 2009. Yen earned 220 million HKD (28.4 million USD) from four films and six advertisements in 2013
Now some of you are saying “Well where's the movie review?” Well, namaste bitches, here it comes!
LEGEND OF THE FIST: RETURN OF CHEN ZHEN
The film is set in post WWI China around 1941. It revolves around the horrible living conditions of Chinese citizens. Some of whom returned home after helping the French during the war. Most volunteered with little or no training to do manual labor. They were not told in advance that said labor would be performed while under fire.
Did I also mention, they were not given anything? After all that, they were ignored by the French after the war. Those who survived returned to a China that was not the place they used to call home. The Japanese who had long wanted to plunder China and used the war as a way in. Plus, the British had designs on China's for trade purposes.
Basically, if you were Chinese then, you and your country were getting squeezed like a f'BEEP'n pimple on a high school kids forehead! The people needed a symbol to rally behind. A person to restore their believe. Enter Chen Zhen. A widely recognized hero from the war, by his own people.
He kept the spirits of the Chinese workers high even during their most darkest hours. He even led a charge during a battle against the Germans that was unheard of until then. He returned to China under an assumed identity, to rid the city of crime, corruption and the Japanese. The love care and respect for a period peace is all there when Donnie Yen is involved. He not only starred in this movie but was involved in some of the writing, production and of course, the fight choreography.
Even though the movie was set after WWI, Yen wanted to show respect to the great Bruce Lee's role as Kato on the Green Hornet series. In China, Bruce Lee was so popular that everybody referred to it as “The Bruce Lee Show”. Thus, Chen Zhen dawned a latex version of the suit that Lee famously wore in the series. Plus a hat and mask as well. The Fist would serve as a rallying point for people.
I wanted to write a review on an older Donnie Yen movie because of his upcoming appearance in
STAR WARS: ROUGE ONE. He hasn't been exposed to mainstream American moviegoers much. With the exception of his woefully underused role in BLADE 2: BLOOD HUNT. You would do good to check out some of his earlier stuff and notice the difference in what he is capable of and what we may have in Star Wars. Notice how with all the accomplishments he has had, he is truly dedicated to keeping the old style martial arts action movie alive.
If you need any recommendations, let me know.
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