Donnie Yen

Donnie Yen


7/27/1963, Canton, China

Birth Name

Donnie Yen Ji-Dan



Also Known As

Yen Ji-Dan, Zhen Zhi-Dan, Yen Chi-Tan
out of 10
User Rating
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Donnie Yen was born in Canton China, moving to Hong Kong shortly after. He later immigrated to Boston when he was around ten years old where his mother, Bow Sim Mark, a world famous, well-respected Wushu and Tai Chi master,opened the renowned Chinese Wushu Research Institute. He studied…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • In 2007, Donnie Yen won the Golden Horse Award for Best Action Choreography for the movie Dou fo sin (2007).

    • He likes to execute various kicking techniques - including jumping splits-kick, jumping front-kick, jumping back-kick while running forward and chain-kicks while moving forward.

    • In 2007, Donnie Yen won the Golden Bauhinia Award for Best Action Choreography for the movie, Lung fu moon (2006).

    • He has a son from a previous marriage.

    • Donnie is 5'8" (1.73 m) tall.

    • Donnie can speak fluent Cantonese, English, and Mandarin. He can speak casual Korean, since it was a requirement for the movie Chat Gim (2005).

    • Current wife Cissy Wang was the winner of the Miss Chinese Toronto Pageant 2000. She also represented Toronto in 2001 for the Miss Chinese International Pageant.

    • Current wife Cissy Wang is nearly 18 years his junior. They have 2 children together, Jasmine and James.

    • Donnie is a classically trained pianist.

  • Quotes

    • Donnie Yen: (Explaining the difference of working in Hong Kong and overseas) Two big differences: time and money! Actually, time, because you can give me all the money in the world and, if I don't have enough time, I can't give you a great action scene. The big difference in Asia is that the action director has complete control over that aspect of the film, from concept to shooting to editing. The Hollywood system is much more organized, and you have to deal with all these different producers etc. In some ways, that can be good. The development of scripts and the overall preparation for a film is definitely better in Hollywood. We have to try and bring the best from east and west together.

    • Donnie Yen: (On the action choreography of Dou fo sin (2007)) The real challenge was in meeting my own expectations. I have such huge respect for MMA fighters, and I was determined that we should make every effort to present their art cinematically, without compromising on the techniques and "reality" of what they do. I underwent MMA training, I watched hours of fight footage and, in the end, I think we came close to capturing the MMA flavor in our fight scenes. The biggest challenge, for me was doing repeated takes of the movements that I choreographed for myself. Sometimes it really did feel like I'd been in a real fight!

    • Donnie Yen: (On working as actor and action director simultaneously in movies) I think it's a difference between the way action is treated in Hong Kong and in Hollywood. [In Hong Kong,] my job is to "direct" the action, and when I'm shooting the fight sequences, I take over the set. I choose the camera angles and see how the drama intercuts with the action. In Hollywood, you "choreograph" working with the main director. In the old days of Hong Kong action cinema, when the action director worked, the "drama" director went home!

    • Donnie Yen: (On working with American movies) Anything goes! (With the) right project right script, I'll do it! But you can only make so many films a year; you have to choose the one that you want to make!

    • Donnie Yen: (On exploring different movie roles) Yes, if someone wants to hire me, why not? Why not get paid the same and have less of a physical demand? But I would absolutely not stop. It's great to do martial arts films, and rep martial arts films, and be a successful icon, and set trends. I feel it's an honor to set a trend in the martial arts film world.

    • Donnie Yen: (On working locally and overseas) I don't identify a project as a Hong Kong project or a Hollywood project or whatever. The world's getting closer and closer. Who would think that Crouching Tiger would win an Oscar as Best Foreign Film? If the film is a good film, it will be seen by the world. I don't know where my home is. If it requires me to do a production in Europe, I go to Europe. If it's in Asian countries, I'll be in Asian countries.

    • Donnie Yen: (On working with fellow Beijing Wushu academist Jet Li Ten years ago we did a film called Once Upon A Time In China, Part II, and it raised the bar of martial arts standard and I was nominated as best supporting actor. Hero was a 10-year reunion for us. So we came in as a kind of expectation from the fans. The difference between the two times is the first time we had a rivalry going because I guess we were younger and it was our first time working with each other. But this time was more of a collaboration. We wanted just to make the best action sequence ever.

    • Donnie Yen: (On martial arts training) Music and movement are both expressions of the same basic human energy. They are like paints used to color the screen.

    • Donnie Yen: (On changing generic fight choreography) Nowadays, martial arts directors go along with the advancement in filming techniques. We can use some techniques to coordinate with non-martial artists. In my early days with Yuen Wo Ping, technology was rather backward, whatever we did depended on the raw skills of the actors themselves; but the actors nowadays are exceptionally fortunate. They could rely on editing, doubles, wires, and even special effects to make them look like they could fight well. But I believe, now that the audiences seek authenticity in martial arts, they could be cast aside. That's why we are looking into real combat.

    • Donnie Yen: (On learning from veteran Hong Kong action directors) Of course it's Yuen Wo Ping. He brought me into the circle. Some of his filming techniques and styles bear great influence on me. Actually, I admire the techniques of other martial arts directors too; they have their own unique ways of handling action scenes. I hope to learn from them. This is my pursuit of martial arts all along - mixed martial arts.

    • Donnie Yen: (On the inspiration of becoming a director) I have always been a rebel, in my whole entire life, since I was just a martial artist. I always have questions in the back of my mind. Why does it have to be this way? Can it be that way? I always try to question and challenge that system and I guess that kind of attitude I brought into the film industry when I was just an actor. I see different films; I see how a director or choreographer would choreograph it. And I say to myself "it can be improved, it can be better and in less time". Or I'd wonder "how come this film is a good film and the other one a bad film, when the budget is not much different?" There are certain techniques, a certain system. When I was an action choreographer, when I used to work for Yuen Woo Ping, I used to grab a whole team of people and just raise questions. To the photographer, or to Yuen Woo Ping: "could it be that way? Could be it, be that? Why not try it this way?" Very soon, I established a kind of trust from Yuen Woo Ping, because I made a lot of his films happen with my suggestions.

    • Donnie Yen: When you watch my films, you're feeling my heart