Real name: Donnie Yen Ji-Dan
Birthdate: July 27, 1963
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Donnie Yen Chi Dan (Chinese: 甄子丹; pinyin: Zhēn Zǐdān, born July 27, 1963), is a martial artist and a Hong Kong film actor, director and producer.
The son of martial arts master Bow Sim Mark, Yen was born in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. He is a well known film and television actor in Hong Kong and, more recently, in the West, having been featured in many movies with prominent, internationally known actors such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh. Donnie's younger sister Chris Yen (Chi-Ching) is also an accomplished martial artist and rising actress, recently appearing in the independent film Adventures of Johnny Tao: Rock Around The Dragon.
From a young age, Yen was interested in martial arts of all kind, experimenting with various styles, from Taekwondo to Wushu. After dropping out of school, Yen decided to stick with Wushu, moved to Beijing to train further with the Beijing Wushu Team. During his training in China, his instructor Mr. Lee demanded Donnie cut his hippie-style mullet as it was inappropriate. When he wanted to return to the United States, he made a side trip to Hong Kong and it was there that he met Yuen Woo-ping, a famous Hong Kong fight choreographer. Yen's first film role was at age 21 in 1984 in the film Xiao Tai Ji. The film revolved around drunken Tai Chi, and although not a critical success, the film helped Yen to achieve further notability. Over the years, Donnie would send martial arts magazines and books from North America back to Mr. Lee in China. Sometime after filming Drunken Tai Chi and Tiger Cage, Donnie had cosmetic surgery to give him folded eyelids and to straighten his teeth. The changes are very apparent in subsequent films.
In 1997, Yen started a production company known as Bullet Films, and made his directorial debut. Two of his films, Legend of the Wolf and Ballistic Kiss, in which he also starred, are widely considered to be groundbreaking in their style and tone.
Donnie went on to choreograph fight scenes (and have small roles in) Hollywood films, such as Blade II and various Highlander projects.
Donnie was briefly engaged to ATV actress, Man Yee Man, before marrying in 2003 in Toronto to Cissy Wang, Miss Chinese Toronto 2000, with whom he has a daughter, Jasmine. Donnie also has a son from a previous marriage named Man Cheuk Yen.
Donnie Yen choreographed most of the fighting animation in the 2004 videogame Onimusha 3 (Also starring Kaneshiro Takeshi and Jean Reno).
Donnie has been very active in Hong Kong cinema as of late and can be seen as Chu Zhaonan in Tsui Hark's wuxia epic Seven Swords, and opposite Sammo Hung and Simon Yam in the brutal crime drama SPL: Sha Po Lang. Both films were featured in 2006 at the Toronto Film Festival. Most recently, he starred as Wong Xiao-Long in Dragon Tiger Gate, an adaptation of a popular Chinese comic book, together with Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue.
Donnie worked on Stormbreaker, starring Alicia Silverstone, as the action choreographer and action director.
The role of Wu Chow in Shanghai Knights was originally offered to his on screen Tiger Cage 2 nemesis, Robin Shou, but due to scheduling conflicts, he had to turn it down and it eventually went to Yen.