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Donnie Yen

Birthday: July 27, 1963

Bio

Donnie Yen (甄子丹) is credited by many for contributing to the popularization of the traditional martial arts style known as Wing Chun. He played Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man in the 2008 film Ip Man, which was an enormous 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.

Donnie Yen was born in Guangzhou, China. His mother, Bow-sim Mark, was a kung fu master and his father, Kylster Yen, a newspaper editor and amateur musician. When Donnie was just two years old, the family moved to Hong Kong and then, when he was 11, to Boston, Massachusetts. As a child, he was trained by his mother in martial arts. Yen also became a proficient pianist. As he got older, he began to rebel against his parents and started learning other types of martial arts. He spent a lot of time in Boston's notorious Combat Zone; to keep him out of trouble, his parents sent him to China to train at a famous Wu Shu school.

When Yen returned to Hong Kong en route back to Boston that he met the famed martial arts movie director Yuen Woo-ping. Yen's first movie was Drunken Tai Chi and immediately established him as a viable leading man. Donnie was subsequently signed by the newly formed D&B Films and cast in the hit cop actioner Tiger Cage. Yen showed off his unique form of contemporary screen combat, a form that included elements of rapid fire kicking, Western boxing, and grappling moves. Some of Yen's other notable works are Blade 2Hero, Seven Swords, and the Ip Man trilogy. After the success of Ip Man 2, Yen was cast as a number of legendary Chinese heroes: He played General Qin-long in Daniel Lee's '14 Blades', Guan Yu in 'The Lost Bladesman' and reprised Bruce Lee's Chen Zhen role in Andrew Lau's 'Legend of the Fist'.

Yen also gained considerable experience behind the scenes as a director and martial arts choreographer. His directorial debut, Legend of the Wolf, even attracted the attention of legendary American filmmaker Francis Coppola. The film, about an amnesiac warrior returning to his home village, has become a cult classic.

Donnie is now one of the leading martial arts choreographers in the world of action cinema. His skills behind the camera began developing from his early days in the industry, and he was very much involved with the action choreography of his films for D&B Films. He received his first full action directing credit on the Michelle Yeoh, kung fu drama Wing Chun, in which he also starred.

He recently burst into the Hollywood scene with a starring turn in the Netflix-produced Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: The Sword of Destiny  as well as meaty role in Star Wars: Rogue One. 

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