Cover Here are Donnie Yen's best movies to add to your watch list

These are the best Donnie Yen films to watch while we wait for the Hong Kong superstar and Tatler Asia’s Most Influential honouree’s appearance in John Wick: Chapter 4

Donnie Yen is one of Hong Kong’s most prominent actors and one of its most recognisable faces when it comes to action and martial arts movies. The Tatler Asia’s Most Influential honouree is also widely credited for bringing mixed martial arts into mainstream Asian movies, thanks to working on the choreography for many films in the early 2000s.

Yen’s international popularity exploded when he appeared in Rogue One, the first Star Wars spin-off film and now is set to star opposite Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4. Ahead of its highly-anticipated release, we break down some of Yen’s best movies that you need to watch—or rewatch—if you haven’t.

Don’t miss: Donnie Yen on John Wick, Keanu Reeves and the Art of Hong Kong Action Films

Tiger Cage (1988)

Tiger Cage tells the story of a team of cops who raided a drug operation. They soon discover that a few members of the police force are working together with an American crime syndicate to traffic drugs. At the same time, the drug traffickers they raided vow revenge so what ensues is a cat and mouse game of who gets to who first.

Due to the film’s success—earning more than HK$11,000,000 at the box office—a sequel was released two years later featuring a new storyline. Donnie Yen returned for the sequel but in a different role.

Iron Monkey (1993)

The martial arts film Iron Monkey is a fictionalised retelling of Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung (Angie Tsang) and his father Wong Kei-ying’s (Yen) encounter with the Iron Monkey (Yu Rongguang), a masked martial artist.

When the governor (James Wong) sees Wong Kei-ying’s bout with the Iron Monkey, he becomes impressed and decides to task Wong with capturing the Iron Monkey within seven days.

See also: Hong Kong Movie Stuntman Reveals What It Takes to Be a Body Double for Action Stars

Heroes Among Heroes (1993)

If the title Heroes Among Heroes doesn’t really a bell, that’s because this movie was released as Fist of the Red Dragon in the US. It follows So Chan (Yen), one of the Ten Tigers of Canton, a group of ten martial artists of Guangdong Province who were believed to be the greatest fighters in the area during the Qing dynasty.

The film depicts So, officer Lin Zexu (Pau Fong), martial arts master and folk hero Wong Fei-hung (Wong Yuk) teaming up to stop opium smugglers.

Wing Chun (1994)

Wing Chun sees the team-up of Yen and actress Michelle Yeoh who is also Tatler Asia’s Most Influential honouree. The movie revolves around Wing Chun (Yeoh) whose village has always been attacked by bandits.

In order to defend her village and reject a forced marriage, she learns kung fu. Now, she’s the only person in the village who can stand up to the bandits.

Read also: Michelle Yeoh, Daniel Wu and More Join the Cast of Disney+’s ‘American Born Chinese’ Adaptation

SPL: Sha Po Lang (2005)

SPL: Sha Po Lang, also known as Kill Zone, tells the story of Chan (Simon Yam), a police detective suffering from cancer and on the verge of retirement. In order to catch a ruthless triad boss, he resorts to illegal means.

Ma Kwun (Yen) is set to become Chan’s protege and soon discovers Chan’s illegal activities. He’s now torn whether to keep it a secret or turn on his mentor.

Ip Man (2008)

A marathon of Donnie Yen’s movies isn’t complete without watching the Ip Man series which first began in 2008. The biographical martial arts film chronicles the life of Ip Man (Yen), a grandmaster of Wing Chun and Bruce Lee’s reacher. The first instalment focuses on Ip’s life in Foshan during the Sino-Japanese war.

Ip Man received widespread acclaim from critics and viewers alike, prompting a sequel and eventually an entire series that spans four movies.

Read also: Shannon Lee Discusses Her Father Bruce Lee’s Legacy and Impact on Asian Representation in Hollywood

Rogue One (2016)

In Rogue One, Yen made his Hollywood debut and portrayed Chirrut Îmwe, a Zatoichi-like blind transient warrior. The movie is the first instalment of the Star Wars anthology series and a prequel to Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.

It takes place a week before A New Hope and follows a ragtag crew of rebels who band together to steal plans of the Death Star, the ultimate weapon of the Galactic Empire.

Don’t miss: Going Global: 8 Korean Stars Who Made It to Hollywood

Chasing the Dragon (2017)

Chasing the Dragon marked a new turn in Yen’s character where he plays a villain with limited fighting scenes. The action crime drama is a remake of the 1991 movie, To be Number One and is based on the life of gangster and triad boss, Ng Sik-ho and his encounter with former Hong Kong detective and sergeant Lui Lok.

The remake follows an illegal immigrant from China (Yen) who sneaks into Hong Kong and builds himself up as a drug kingpin.

Read also: 14 Great Hong Kong Movies to Add to Your Netflix Watch List

Big Brother (2018)

Ditching his usual martial arts movie, Yen starred in Big Brother which takes place in a high school in crisis where students are under-performing. Yen takes on the role of Henry Chan, also known as Big Brother, to enlighten and inspire the students with his unconventional teaching methods.

Raging Fire (2021)

Yen returns to action with Raging Fire where he plays a righteous cop who goes head to head with his former protege, Yau Kong-ngo (Tse) who is out for revenge. Cheung Sung-bong (Yen) betrays and testifies against Yau who ends up being imprisoned.

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.