Donnie Yen holds a special place in cinema history, he has been featured in martial arts films for over 35 years. His performance in his films has made him a superstar in China, and some people even go to the extent of comparing him with the top martial arts stars of Asia, Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Yen has followed in the footsteps of his idol and became a well-known figure in the martial arts genre.
While most of us know about Donnie Yen from the John Wick franchise, he has worked in a number of successful films such as Ip Man, Hero, Raging Fire, and many more. However, before joining Keanu Reeves’ action franchise, he has been a part of Vin Diesel’s XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, as a martial artist and adding to the diversity of the cast of the film.
Donnie Yen Joins XXX Franchise After Jet Li Leaves Abruptly
Donnie Yen played the role of Xiang in the 2017 sequel, and his portrayal in the film was outstanding, his performance in the film was nothing short of captivating. The actor embodied his role in the film showcasing menacing and jaw-dropping fight scenes that will surely leave a lasting impression in the minds of the viewers.
While the Iron Monkey actor was outstanding in the film, he was not planned to be a part of the film, as Jet Li was supposed to play the role, but he left. As per Birth Movies Death via IGN Africa, the Romeo Must Die actor decided to drop out of the film “abruptly” and the reason was never mentioned. To silence Li’s exit, Vin Diesel posts a picture with the replacement of Jet Li, from the set of the film, that is Donnie Yen.
Diesel revealed Yen’s character name in the sequel as he wrote the caption on his Facebook post, “Director, Xiang and Xander… Donnie Yen’s first day on set. Our global cast is simply amazing!” Nevertheless, Yen played an outstanding role in the film as fans enjoyed his portrayal and action scenes in the film., as the film earned $345 million at the worldwide box office.
Donnie Yen is a Fan of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Physique
Donnie Yen is renowned for his martial arts films, and one would think that he is a lean guy because of the costumes he wears in the films. But he has a great physique, during an interview with Men’s Journal, he shared that it was the Italian Stallion and The Austrian Oak who got him into bodybuilding.
“I got into bodybuilding as well because of the Rocky movies and Arnold Schwarzenegger. That was my first exposure to seeing a physique like that as a main character—and it was superhuman. I wanted to put on muscle because I was a little thin. I found out there was a Nautilus machine at the Chinatown Boys Club, so I would go there after all of my marital arts and boxing. I would just spend hours training in there and lifting weights.”
The John Wick: Chapter 4 actor also mentioned that he followed a unique workout routine so that he could be a “complete package,” and while following routines from his idols, he went a little old-school by infusing his workout with some Shaolin training.
XXX: The Return of Xander Cage can be streamed on Paramount+.