Donnie Yen (born 27 July 1963), also known as Yen Ji-dan (甄子丹), is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film director and producer, action choreographer, and multiple-time world wushu tournament champion.
Yen is credited by mafor forntribuforg to the popularization of the traditional martial arts style known as Wing Chun. He played Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man in the 2008 film Ip Man, which was a box office success. This has led to an increase in the number of people taking up Wing Chun, leading to hundreds of new Wing Chun schools to be opened up in mainland China and other parts of Asia. Ip Chun, the eldest son of Ip Man, even mentioned that he is grateful to Yen for making his family art popular and allowing his father’s legacy to be remembered.
Yen is considered to be Hong Kong’s top action star; director Peter Chan mentioned that he “is the ‘it’ action person right now” and “has built himself into a bona fide leading man, who happens to an action star.” Yen is widely credited for bringing mixed martial arts (MMA) into the mainstream of Chinese culture, by choreographing MMA in many of his recent films. Yen has displayed notable skills in a wide variety of martial arts, being well-versed in boxing, kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do, Hapkido, taekwondo, Muay Thai, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Wing Chun, and Wushu. Seen as one of the most popular film stars in Asia in recent years, Yen was one of the highest paid actors in Asia in 2009. Yen has earned 220 million HKD (28.4 million USD) from four films and six advertisements in 2013.
Yen’s mother, Bow-sim Mark (麥寶嬋), is a Fu Style Wudangquan (internal martial arts) and Tai Chi grandmaster, while his father, Klyster Yen (甄雲龍), is a newspaper editor. Yen was born in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. When he was two years old, his family moved to Hong Kong, and then to Boston, Massachusetts, United States, when he was 11. His younger sister, Chris Yen, is also a martial artist and actress, and appeared in the 2007 film Adventures of Johnny Tao: Rock Around the Dragon.
At a young age, under influence from his mother, Yen developed an interest in martial arts and began experimenting with various styles, including t’ai chi and other traditional Chinese martial arts. Yen then started karate when he was nine. Yen focused on practicing wushu seriously at age of fourteen after dropping out of school. His parents were concerned that he was spending too much time in the Boston Combat Zone, so they sent him to Beijing on a two-year training program with the Beijing Wushu Team. When Yen decided to return to the United States, he made a side-trip to Hong Kong and met action choreographer Yuen Woo-ping there. Yen finally started taekwondo on his later teens around age of sixteen.
Yen also came from a family of musicians. His mother is a soprano, in addition to being a martial arts teacher in Boston, while his father is a violinist. From a young age, he was taught by his parents to play musical instruments, including the piano. He also knows hip-hop dancing and breakdancing.
Yen has stated that he is a big fan of the MMA organization Ultimate Fighting Championship, and has watched almost every UFC event available. In various interviews, he has mentioned that he would have loved to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship if he did not have a recurring shoulder injury.
In the October 2014, Donnie Yen was invited to be a guest speaker in front of a crowd of 20,000 youths for We Day Vancouver, where he spoke about the hardships he faced growing up, and how he overcame difficulties to become the reigning martial arts star.
Yen is a known advocate of charity, known for his generous donations to various charity. In 2015, he personally visited refugee camps in Thailand, bringing donations and gifts for the refugees. Donnie Yen is also an ambassador for the international charity known as Free the Children.
In 1993, Yen married Zing-Ci Leung. Their son, Jeff, was born in 1995. Yen married Cecilia Wang in Toronto in 2003. They have a daughter, Jasmine, born in 2004, and a son, James, born in 2007.