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Donnie Yen

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Donnie Yen
Chinese name 甄子丹 (Traditional)
Chinese name 甄子丹 (Simplified)
Pinyin Zhēn Zǐdān (Mandarin)
Jyutping Jan1 Zi2daan1 (Cantonese)
Ancestry Taishan, Guangdong, China
Born 27 July 1963 (1963-07-27) (age 46)
Guangzhou, China
Years active 1983 - present
Spouse(s) Cissy Wang
Official Website
Donnie Yen Chi-Tan (Chinese: 甄子丹pinyin: Zhēn Zǐdān; born 27 July 1963) is a Hong Kong martial artist, actor, film director, action choreographer and film producer. Apart from being a well-known film and television actor in Hong Kong, Yen has also gained international recognition for appearing in many films together with other prominent and internationally-known actors such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh. He is considered to be Hong Kong's top action star; 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."[1]


Early life

Yen was born in Guangzhou province, China. His mother, Bow Sim Mark, is a Wushu and Tai Chi practitioner, while his father, Klyster Yen, is a newspaper editor.[2] When Yen was two years old, he moved to Hong Kong with his family and they shifted to Boston, Massachusetts, United States when he was 11.[3] His younger sister, Chris Yen, is also a martial artist and actress, who appeared in the 2007 film Adventures of Johnny Tao: Rock Around the Dragon.
At a young age, under influence from his mother, Yen developed an interest in martial arts and began experimenting with various styles, ranging from Taekwondo to Wushu. Yen focused on practising Wushu after dropping out of school. His parents were concerned that he was spending too much time in the Boston Combat Zone, that they sent him to Beijing on a two-year training programme with the Beijing Wushu Team.[3] During his initial training in Guangzhou, Yen's instructor Lee Yu-Man told him to change his mullet hairstyle because it was inappropriate. When Yen decided to return to the United States, he made a side-trip to Hong Kong and met action choreographer Yuen Woo-ping there.


Yen took on the role of a stuntman in his earliest films, Shaolin Drunkard (1983) and Taoism Drunkard (1984). At the age of 20, he took on his first acting role in the 1984 film Drunken Tai Chi, and the film helped to make Yen more notable, even though it was not a critical success. After filming Drunken Tai Chi and Tiger Cage (1988), Yen underwent Asian blepharoplasty and had his teeth straightened.[citation needed]
Yen made his breakthrough role as General Nap-Lan in Once Upon a Time in China II (1992), which included a dramatic fight scene between his character and Wong Fei Hung (played by Jet Li). Yen and Li appeared together again in the 2002 film Hero, where Yen played a staff fighter who fought with Li's character, an unnamed swordsman. The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 2003 Academy Awards but lost to the German film Nowhere in Africa.
In 1997, Yen started a production company called Bullet Films, and made his directorial debut[4] in Legend of the Wolf (1997) and Ballistic Kiss (1998), in which he played the lead character. Yen went on to choreograph fight scenes and appeared in minor roles in some Hollywood films, such as Highlander: Endgame (2000) and Blade II (2002).
In 2003, Yen co-starred with Jackie Chan in Shanghai Knights. His role of the antagonist, Wu Chow, was originally offered to Robin Shou, who played his on-screen nemesis in Tiger Cage 2 (1990), but Shou turned down the offer due to scheduling conflicts and Yen took the role.
Yen choreographed most of the fight animation in the 2004 video game Onimusha 3, which featured actors Takeshi Kaneshiro and Jean Reno. Yen continued to be active in the Hong Kong cinema in the 2000s, starring as Chu Zhaonan in Tsui Hark's Wuxia epic film Seven Swords, and as Ma Kwun in Wilson Yip's brutal crime drama film SPL: Sha Po Lang in 2005. Both films were featured at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. Later that year, Yen co-starred with Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue in Wilson Yip's Dragon Tiger Gate, an adaptation of Wong Yuk-Long's comic series Oriental Heroes. Yen also worked as action choreographer in Stormbreaker, starring Alex Pettyfer. Yen's continued to work with Wilson Yip in Flash Point (2007), an unofficial sequel to SPL: Sha Po Lang, in which he starred as the lead character and served as producer and action choreographer for the film. He won the Best Action Choreography at the Golden Horse Film Awards and the Hong Kong Film Awards for his performance in Flash Point.
In 2008, Yen starred in Ip Man, a semi-biographical account of Ip Man, the Wing Chun master of Bruce Lee. Ip Man marked Yen's fourth collaboration with director Wilson Yip, reuniting him with his co-stars in SPL:Sha Po Lang, Sammo Hung and Simon Yam. Ip Man became the biggest box office hit to date, which featured Yen in the leading role, grossing HK$25 million in Hong Kong and 100 million yuan in China.[5][6]

Personal life

Yen married Cecilia Cissy Wang in Toronto in 2003. Wang was the champion of "Miss Chinese Toronto 2000" and winner of the "Miss Vitality" and "Miss Perfect Figure" awards. They have a daughter, Jasmine, born in 2004, and a son, James, born in 2007.[7] Yen also has another son, Man Cheuk Yen,[8] from a previous marriage.[citation needed]


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