Don­nie Yen cheers on Asians in Hol­ly­wood

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE | PEOPLE - Pan, By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Los An­ge­les

Sleep No More, Lit­tle Prince, Peter The Peter Pan The Lit­tle Prince.

Ac­tion star Don­nie Yen placed his deadly hands and feet in ce­ment at Hol­ly­wood’s TCL Chi­nese Theatre on Wed­nes­day, voic­ing hope that his ca­reer would in­spire fel­low Asians to take up act­ing.

The mar­tial artist — a mul­ti­ple world cham­pion in the wushu fight­ing style — was be­ing hon­ored for a body of work mainly in Chi­nese cin­ema, although he also stars in the much-an­tic­i­pated Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

“Some­times be­ing an Asian ac­tor is not easy. Un­for­tu­nately, for many years, Asian ac­tors didn’t have the same, equal op­por­tu­ni­ties,” the 53-year-old Hong Kong res­i­dent says at the cer­e­mony.

“But I think that things have been chang­ing,” he says. “And I cer­tainly would like to be one ac­tor that set a good ex­am­ple.”

Over­shad­owed over the years by Jackie Chan and other sought-af­ter kung fu stars, Yen has been grad­u­ally break­ing into Hol­ly­wood since ap­pear­ing in Guillermo del Toro’s Blade II in 2002.

In Rogue One, due to be re­leased on Dec 16, he plays a war­rior monk who is part of a heroic band of rebels that steals plans for the Death Star.

He also stars op­po­site Vin Diesel in xXx: Re­turn of Xan­der Cage, which hits the­aters on Jan 20.

Born in Guang­dong prov­ince in South China, Yen went to Hong Kong — where he lives now — at the age of 2 and later moved to the United IpMan3, States, grow­ing up in Bos­ton’s Chi­na­town.

Much of the star’s in­spi­ra­tion comes from his mother, Mark Bow-sim, a world fa­mous wushu and tai chi mas­ter, at whose in­ter­na­tion- ally-known Chi­nese Wushu Re­search In­sti­tute the young Yen learned kung fu.

When he be­came in­volved in gang vi­o­lence in Bos­ton at age 16, his wor­ried par­ents sent him to Bei­jing, where he spent two years train­ing with the famed Bei­jing wushu team, study­ing with the same mas­ters as Jet Li’s.

Yen’s turn­ing point came when the vet­eran film di­rec­tor Yuen Wo-ping, the ac­tion chore­og­ra­pher for the Ma­trix tril­ogy, dis­cov­ered him and helped him to break into movies as the new kung fu hero.

Yen has spent years since then us­ing his celebrity to wage a cam­paign to kick the Asian stereo­type out of Hol­ly­wood.

In the mid-1990s, he turned down an of­fer from Fran­cis Cop­pola be­cause of a script he said con­tained “a ridicu­lous stereo­type about the Chi­nese”.

“I hope this cer­e­mony, this achieve­ment, will in­spire many Chi­nese ac­tors — not just Chi­nese ac­tors, but many young ac­tors — that they, too, can achieve the same dream if they put enough hard work into it,” he said be­fore sink­ing his hands into the ce­ment.

“The force is with me and the force is with ev­ery­body.”

Left: Don­nie Yen shows his hands af­ter plac­ing them in ce­ment dur­ing a cer­e­mony in the fore­court of the TCL Chi­nese Theatre in Hol­ly­wood. Right: a Hong Kong mar­tial arts film in 2015, stars Yen and Mike Tyson.

The US pro­duc­tion PeterPan is be­ing in­tro­duced to Chi­nese au­di­ences as part of Zhong Li­fang’s plans to tap the po­ten­tial of the coun­try’s theater mar­ket.

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