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Rodrigo Medeiros

Favorite Submissions DVDs

 

Donnie Yen 's Hong Kong films

     
 

More topics:

Donnie's Biography  Donnie & Bruce Lee Martial Arts Mastery

 

Donnie's debut as a director “Fist of Fury” TV series  
 
         
   

   
         
 

Yuen Woo Ping

 
 
At 19, en route back to the US, he made a side trip to Hong Kong and was introduced to film director Yuen Woo-ping, the action choreographer for 1999's “The Matrix.” Woo Ping, who had launched the career of Jackie Chan in “Snake in Eagle's Shadow” and “Drunken Master”, was looking for a new kung fu movie hero. In Yen, he found his man and so began a new journey.
Donnie did not have any acting experience at the time. He had always been a big fan of Bruce Lee but it had never crossed his mind to become involved in movies. Yen first worked as a stunt double in “Miracle Fighters 2” before he was cast in ”Drunken Tai Chi.”
Yuen Woo Ping’s "Drunken Tai Chi" was the last of this kind of martial arts film. The market would no more allow such lavish productions. "Drunken Tai Chi" took 8 months to film. They would spend 1 month on a single fighting scene. In our days, most filmmakers spend 2-3 days filming a fight scene. Donnie had that training, the hardcore training that Jackie Chan had. He wanted to quit after the first month; it was so abusing both mentally and physically. These are the kind of things he had to do. He got up at 5:30 am and would fight all day. Literally, fight all day. He'd throw the same kick or the same punch over and over again. That kind of shooting would carry over to 2-3 a.m. and he would be hiding in the corner trying to get some rest. Yuen Woo Ping would call him over and say, "Let's continue the same movement that we were doing at 6 a.m." It was totally brutal on every actor’s body and Donnie had several injuries. That was total training for him. Later on his career, it was much easier. It was very primitive back in the old days, in terms of camera work. So, it was based purely on physical performance. Woo Ping would place the camera on wide shot and the actor got to do it. He had to be perfect. Later on in other films, where the camera was more sophisticated, Donnie would have maybe 5 moves instead of 30. "Drunken Tai Chi" was hard. There were movements that were humanly impossible but to Yuen Woo Ping, anything is possible. He would push Donnie’s limit to something almost inhuman. If Donnie jumped off a table and did a kick and stand on his right leg, Woo Ping would suddenly ask him, "Could you do it on your right toe?" That was the kind of expectation, the kind of requirements he had. With that kind of training, Donnie Yen was very fortunate because it helped him build a strong foundation. "Drunken Tai Chi" climaxes with an amazing final fight. Woo Ping recognized Yen's extraordinary physical abilities so their series of films together led to a new direction in Hong Kong action cinema. He would later star in other Woo Ping vehicles, and with each, his progression as a martial artist and actor is there for all to see.
 
 

Tsui Hark

 
 
The sophistication of the Martial arts film industry began to increase due to so many years of filming in Hong Kong. Proper editing and more carefully written drama replaced just shooting raw fight scenes. Other aspects of martial arts filmmaking such as lighting, wardrobe and music suddenly became as important as the fights themselves. Period martial arts movies returned to Hong Kong action cinema with director Tsui Hark's hit “Once Upon a Time in China 2.” Tsui, looking for the ultimate opponent for Jet Li (who had starred in the first movie), chose Yen.
The scene in "Once Upon a Time in China 2" where Donnie fought Jet Li was a whole lot easier than any scene in "Drunken Tai Chi." They shot it in 3 days. Basically, Yuen Woo Ping was like "Do this. Do that." Tsui Hark placed the shot and then they went at it. Indeed, Yen and Jet Li engage in two duels that have become classic action sequences, and in both, Yen creatively choreographed the movements, inventively using a rolled wet cloth as a weapon. He was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 1992 Hong Kong Film Awards in recognition of his “Once Upon a Time in China 2” performance. The film firmly established him as a Kung Fu movie star.
 

 
 

Other Hong Kong Films

 
 
He went on to appear in such highly regarded productions as “The Butterfly Sword” with Michelle Yeoh, “New Dragon Gate Inn” with Maggie Cheung (a remake of King Hu's classic), and the cult favourite “Iron Monkey”, in which he plays Wong Key Ying, father to the young Wong Fei Hung. In “Iron Monkey,” Yen staged the well-known Shadowless Kick scene in which he fights renegade Shaolin monks, one of the most influential martial arts scenes of the decade. His versatility in the martial arts, so apparent in the “Tiger Cage” series, easily carried over into the period martial arts movies, demonstrating once more that he is 'master of all genres.’
Inspired by his idol, Bruce Lee, Yen not only explored a wide variety of different fighting styles, he also created his own unique martial arts system. His progression in the martial arts is paralleled onscreen by the assimilation and combinations of various martial arts styles displayed. Starting as early as “Drunken Tai Chi,” his immense physical capabilities were evident. In the “Tiger Cage” series, Yen showed his versatility with Western kickboxing. “Iron Monkey” showcased traditional kung fu style, and Yen's memorable performance as Wong Key Ying made the movie one of the most influential martial arts films of the decade. Here, he glorified the kung fu style of Hung Gar. Ironically, Yen explains he doesn't know Hung Gar but credits his ability onscreen to his martial arts philosophy. Throughout his film career, he has never stopped training and his martial arts have never stopped developing. The mental and the physical have become one, and the more elevated his art has become, the more Bruce Lee's philosophy has meant to him. Master of all and none, Yen has been involved with martial arts for so many years now that he doesn't really analyze them too much anymore. Basically he agrees with what Bruce Lee said, that ‘as human beings, we all have two arms and legs, so there can't really be many different styles of fighting.' Every style of martial arts has something to offer.
We will not cover all of Donnie’s Hong Kong films. We would just like to say that they all have interesting and exciting fighting scenes, even the ones that were cheap productions or had rather foolish scripts.
 
     
 

More topics:

Donnie's Biography  Donnie & Bruce Lee Martial Arts Mastery

 

Donnie's debut as a director “Fist of Fury” TV series  
 
     

© 2009 WWW.FIGHTINGMASTER.COM All rights reserved.