Donnie Yen Biography

Donnie Yen photo

Born: July 27, 1963


Date of Birth: July 27, 1963

Born in Canton, China, Donnie Yen moved with his family to Hong Kong at the age of two, then moved to Boston, Massachusetts nine years later. His mother was a martial arts master and ran a training institute. She began teaching Donnie martial arts as soon as he could walk. Understandably, he became enthralled by martial arts movies and even skipped school to watch them. When he started to become an out-of-control, rebellious teenager, his parents sent him to Beijing to study with the same master as Jet Li. After two years, he was due to return to the States, but stopped off in Hong Kong where he met film director Yuen Wo-ping, who had launched Jackie Chan's career and was looking for a new protégé. Yen made his film debut in 1982 at the age of 19.

The popularity of martial arts movies in Asia guaranteed Yen steady work and he stayed on, appearing in 16 more movies over the next 12 years, including Once Upon a Time in China II (1992) with Jet Li. In 1995, Yen became a regular on the TV series Jing wu men, but continued to work in films as well. By 1997, he'd formed his own film company, Bullet Films, which produced his directorial debut, Legend of the Wolf.

His role in Highlander: Endgame (2000), starring Adrian Paul and Christopher Lambert, marked his first appearance in an English-speaking film. The following year, Yen directed himself in the Cantonese film Fist of Fury: The Sequel (2001), but returned to English-speaking films with Guillermo del Toro's Blade II (2002), starring Wesley Snipes. Yen reunited with Jet Li for Hero, which was filmed in Mandarin and released in China in 2002, then released around the world in 2003/2004.

Yen played the supporting role of Wu Chow in the comedy Shanghai Knights (2003), starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson. The talented actor has continued working steadily in recent years, appearing in such films as the Ip Man (2008) trilogy, Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010), The Monkey King (2014), and Kung Fu Killer (2014).

In 2016, Yen landed a string of high-profile roles in the fantasy sequels Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and the action sequel xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

In 2019, he returned to reprise his role in Ip Man 4: The Finale, and in the following year he played the role of Commander Tung in Disney's live-action remake, Mulan (2020).

He continues to work in Hong Kong as well as Germany, where he has a successful TV show, but also splits his time between homes in New York and Los Angeles. In 2003, he married Cissy Wang Ci Ci. They have two children together, Jasmine and James. Yen also has a son from a previous marriage.


Mulan (2020)
Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019)
xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny An IMAX 3D Experience (2016)
Ip Man 3 (2016)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Kung Fu Killer (2015)
Iceman (Bing Feng: Chong Sheng Zhi Men) (2014)
All's Well, Ends Well 2012 (2012)
Dragon (2012)
Seven Swords (2007)
Hero (2004)
Blade II (2002)
Shanghai Knights (2002)
Iron Monkey (2001)

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