Over the years, the Hong Kong-born martial arts sensation has proven that he is not only a skilled fighter but also a talented actor.
He managed to establish himself as one of the leading figures in the contemporary Asian martial arts action cinema.
In the past several years, Donnie also became very famous in America, thus continuing the legacy of Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Jet Li.
Lately, his excellent fighting techniques and on-screen charisma were seen and once again solidified in the big-budgeted ‘Star Wars’ spin-off ‘Rogue One’.
Yen is known for his talent to choreograph spectacular martial arts scenes and intense fight sequences.
He often includes different variations of kicks in his films and he prefers to collaborate with real martial artists on the set.
One thing is sure – if you want to watch a decent action flick, Donnie Yen’s filmography has a lot to offer.
Here are some of the finest Donnie Yen films:
The ‘Ip Man’ Trilogy (2008-2015)
The franchise revolving around the alleged true story of the Wing Chun master and early Bruce Lee tutor Ip Man was first started in 2008 and since then has made an estimated earnings of $230 million worldwide.
In every movie, Ip Man who lives a peaceful life as a kung fu tutor is faced with difficult situations involving violence and mayhem.
Eventually, he is forced to use his Wing Chun techniques to spread justice and defend the weakest.
What makes the films from the series so special is the unconventional martial arts scenes, executed so skillfully by Donnie Yen as well as the emotional touch present in every single part of the franchise.
The last installment from 2015 gathers together on the screen Yen and the legendary former heavyweight worldwide boxing champion Mike Tyson.
In one of the scenes, their characters expose two different styles – boxing and kung fu in an ultimate combat for honor.
All the three movies were a real success and to this day, Donnie Yen is considered as the main reason behind the sudden popularization of the Wing Chun in America.
The good news is that the fourth installment has been announced and is scheduled for 2018.
Let’s jump to one of Donnie’s films, set in modern day
‘Flashpoint’ is a cop story presenting Donnie Yen as a hot-tempered police inspector who must deal with a powerful Chinese-Vietnamese crime gang which terrorizes the city.
The film impresses with its staggering martial arts scenes and heart-pounding action.
We see Yen at his best, showing his various fighting skills in different martial art forms.
Be sure that the final fight scene with his on-screen nemesis, played by the talented Collin Chou is epic.
Get that kung fu rolling, baby!
Let’s look at another brutal cop story, involving hard punches and dangerous kicks.
‘SPL: Kill Zone’ (2005)
The story revolves around the semi-retired police inspector Ma Kwan who has harsh times putting down a vicious crime boss and at the same time he has troubles with his replacement.
What is special about ‘SPL – Kill Zone’ is the intense, haunting atmosphere and the exhilarating action scenes.
Once again Wilson Yip’s signature is painfully attached to every fiber of the movie.
Being an explosive action-thriller, the film is also a skillfully executed police drama.
The characters are very likable and the villain is masterfully portrayed by the amazing Sammo Kam-Bo Hung who is super-fast and flexible for his age and weight.
Sammo also often collaborates with Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen and he can be seen in the ‘Ip Man’ series.
In a nutshell, ‘SPL: Kill Zone’ is a spectacular masterpiece.
I also highly recommend giving a watch to the ‘SPL 2: A Time For Consequences’ (2015) starring the extraordinary Tony Jaa.
Now let’s check what is going on at the beginning of the 20th century in China
‘Wu Xia’, a.k.a. ‘Dragon’ (2011)
Some critics described it as a film which redefined the martial arts genre and emerged Donnie Yen as one of the leading Asian action stars.
The action flick presents also a brain-tickling noir story which keeps the viewer on the edge of the seat with sweaty palms.
Directed by Peter Chan (‘Warlords’) and set in 1917, the plot revolves around the former leader of a vicious warrior gang Xi (Yen) who now lives a peaceful life with his family in a small village.
One day it becomes impossible for Xi to hide his martial arts skills when two bandits try to rob a local store and he kills them with suspicious easiness.
The detective who is sent to investigate the case suspects that indeed Xi is a skillful martial artist with a violent past and eventually the truth emerges, leading to more dark secrets and a series of bloody crime events.
‘Dragon’ is filled with slow-motion kung-fu scenes, all masterfully choreographed by Donnie Yen who is also the action director of the film.
The flick is intense, the story is interesting and the fighting sequences are among the best in the genre.
One has also to admit that the creators of the film have successfully recreated the dawn of the 20th century in rural China thanks to the beautiful costumes and decors.
‘Dragon’ is among Donnie’s finest flicks, that’s for sure.
Let’s investigate some serial killings now, shall we?
‘Kung Fu Killer’, a.k.a. ‘Kung Fu Jungle’ (2014)
The movie is a winner of the Hong Kong film award for best action choreography, proving once again Yen’s talent and vision for creating action scenes.
The plot tells the story of the convicted prisoner and former martial arts instructor Hahou Mo who is sentenced to jail after accidentally killing an opponent.
When a serial killer targets martial arts experts and starts terrorizing the city, Mo offers the police his skills to stop the killer in exchange for his freedom.
The game of cat and mouse begins.
A serial killer, martial arts experts, some prison fights, Donnie Yen in great shape kicking ass and an award for stunning martial arts choreography.
Be sure that it doesn’t just sound fantastic, the movie itself is fantastic.
These were the best Donnie Yen movies, definitely worth watching if you are a fan of the good action and the breathtaking martial arts scenes.
If you watch any of these movies, you will know why Donnie Yen is among the most celebrated Chinese martial arts actors.
As per Donnie’s busy filming schedule, a lot of good action flicks are yet to come in near future.
To be continued…
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