Top 10 Donnie Yen Movies
Writer: Casey Chong
Donnie Yen in "Iceman 3D".
Currently the biggest action star in the Chinese movie industry, martial arts extraordinaire Donnie Yen is about to rock the cinema this 17 April with the highly-anticipated 3D martial arts blockbuster, "Iceman 3D".
A big-budget remake of 1989's "The Iceman Cometh", Donnie Yen stepped into Yuen Biao's popular role as a Ming Dynasty imperial guard who gets cryonically frozen along with his enemy (Wang Baoqiang) during a fight. When they are revived in modern-day Hong Kong, they resume their battle while adjusting their life to a foreign setting. To coincide with the upcoming release, we have compiled and selected our top 10 Donnie Yen movies which no fan should miss!
10. "Wu Xia" (2011)
Donnie Yen in one of the fight scenes from "Wu Xia".
A refreshing mix of TV's "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Sherlock Holmes" with an element of David Cronenberg's "A History Of Violence" (2005), director Peter Chan has redefines the usual Wuxia genre that doesn't play strictly by the formula. At the central of the movie is Donnie Yen, who delivers a surprisingly nuanced performance as Liu Jinxi. His solid transition between a commoner and a deadly martial arts fighter is particularly well-realized. Even though the fight scenes are noticeably sparse than your average Donnie Yen movie, they still packed a few decent wallops. The highlights of this movie including his run-in with two robbers, and another one where he squares off against the double sword-wielding female fighter (Kara Hui) in the open village.
9. "Dragon Tiger Gate" (2006)
(L-R) Shawn Yue, Donnie Yen and Nicholas Tse in "Dragon Tiger Gate".
Based on the popular Hong Kong comic-book "Oriental Heroes" by Wong Yuk-Long, this big screen adaptation is stylishly entertaining but an overproduced martial arts actioner that sees Donnie Yen posing a lot with his long, flowing locks. While the story is mediocre, Donnie Yen who plays Dragon in this movie is particularly entertaining to watch for whenever he engages in a series of well-choreographed fight sequences. Donnie Yen, who also served as the action director here, made non-martial artists Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue fight convincingly like seasoned pros.
8. "Bodyguards And Assassins" (2009)
Donnie Yen and his trademark jump spin kick in "Bodyguards And Assassins".
While "Bodyguards And Assassins" doesn't feature Donnie Yen in a leading role, this award-winning historical epic does owe part of its success from his engaging participation as policeman Shen Chongyang who is addicted to gambling. The movie's particular highlight is Donnie Yen's impressive parkour/fight scene in the open market against the agile assassin Sa Zhenshan, played by Vietnam-born and American-based mixed martial artist Cung Le.
7. "The Monkey King" (2014)
Donnie Yen as Sun Wukong in "The Monkey King".
Soi Cheang's prequel to "Journey To The West" saga may have been heavily criticised for its spotty special effects as well as other glaring weaknesses, but "The Monkey King" is mainly saved by Donnie Yen's highly-energetic performance as the mischievous Sun Wukong. In fact, this is one of his best performances ever seen in his career. Equally great as well is his exciting fight scene for which he mixes his graceful martial arts skill with a golden staff.
6. "Once Upon A Time In China II" (1992)
Donnie Yen as Commander Lan in "Once Upon A Time In China II".
One of the most popular martial arts movies of all time, Tsui Hark's "Once Upon A Time In China II" is a rare blockbuster sequel that improves significantly from the 1991's groundbreaking original. Part of the biggest success in this highly entertaining movie is the involvement of Donnie Yen, who scored his breakthrough performance as the corrupted magistrate Commander Lan. In fact, his final showdown against Jet Li's Wong Fei Hong ranks as one of the best fight sequences ever staged in Hong Kong cinema.
5. "Iron Monkey" (1993)
Donnie Yen as Wong Kei Ying in "Iron Monkey".
"Iron Monkey" is the most popular collaboration between Donnie Yen and legendary martial arts choreographer/director Yuen Woo Ping. Not only that, this highly-acclaimed martial arts extravaganza features some of the amazing action choreography ever seen in Hong Kong cinema. The most memorable set-piece is of course, the showstopping finale between Wong Kei Ying (Donnie Yen) and Iron Monkey (Yu Rongguang) squaring off against each other while maintaining their balance atop the burning wooden poles.
4. "Ip Man 2" (2010)
Sammo Hung (left) battles against Donnie Yen in "Ip Man 2".
A spectacular but uneven sequel to 2008's "Ip Man", "Ip Man 2" is particularly memorable for its attention-grabbing first half of the movie. Here, Ip Man (Donnie Yen) encounters a gang of Master Hung's (Sammo Hung) machete-wielding students in the abandoned fish market. The action gets better with a one-on-one duel between Ip Man and Master Hung himself atop a flimsy table. In this movie's claustrophobic centrepiece, they have to survive the duel without falling off the table. Watching these two martial arts legends throwing fists against each other with such grace, power and speed in such limited space is simply breathtaking to behold for. Of course, there's Donnie Yen's iconic and engaging presence as Ip Man who reprised his role with relative ease.
3. "Flash Point" (2007)
Collin Chou (left) squares off against Donnie Yen during the final scene in "Flash Point".
As a martial artist who constantly finds ways to bring something new to a martial arts movie, Donnie Yen has successfully made a breakthrough by pioneering MMA – also known as Mixed Martial Arts – in "Flash Point". This can be seen during his memorable duel against Collin Chou in the abandoned village. And thanks to Donnie Yen, MMA has since become one of the most sought-after martial arts techniques featured in a martial arts-based genre.
2. "Ip Man" (2008)
Donnie Yen as Ip Man in "Ip Man".
Prior to release of "Ip Man", Hong Kong cinema is always about the exploits of Wong Fei Hung (e.g. "Once Upon A Time In China" series) when it comes to the martial arts genre that centres on a real-life legendary martial arts master. But the arrival of "Ip Man" that year in 2008 had immediately sparked – for better and worse – a crop of martial arts movies that featured the Ip Man character as the central figure. But of all the Ip Man movies that have been shown throughout the years, Wilson Yip's version remains the best out there. At the heart of this movie is of course Donnie Yen, who immortalized the Ip Man role with his down-to-earth persona and graceful manner. The fight scene in "Ip Man", at which Donnie Yen showcases his nimble Wing Chun martial art skills, is a must-see for all action-movie enthusiasts. The highlight of this movie is the scene where he squares off against 10 Japanese martial arts students in a dojo. That scene is so popular that it had subsequently found its way into many movies ever since.
1. "SPL" (2005)
Donnie Yen in the baton vs. knife alleyway face-off in "SPL".
One of the best Hong Kong action movies for the past ten years, "SPL" is best remembered for reviving the '80s throwback to the down-and-dirty action genre. Not only that, writer-director Wilson Yip brilliantly reinvents the formula by adding contemporary noir with "Infernal Affairs"-like cinematic undertones. All the cast are top notch, particularly for Donnie Yen's late-career revival after suffering a string of disappointments. Looking tanned with a well-sculpted body, Donnie Yen delivers a solid performance as the no-nonsense Inspector Ma Kwan. As the movie's action director, Donnie Yen was also responsible for creating some of the most intense fighting scenes ever graced in the big screen - beginning with a spectacular baton vs. knife alleyway face-off between Donnie Yen and Wu Jing, who plays Wong Po's (Sammo Hung) right-hand man, Jet. Then there's the final showdown between Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung in the nightclub in a series of improvised fight sequences that sees both of them incorporate Judo to the mix.
Cinema Online, 02 April 2014
"Iceman 3D" opens in cinemas nationwide on 17 April.