While Donnie Yen made a name for himself on American shores with his breakout hit in 2008, Ip Man, his reputation was established for many martial arts action film fans long before he ever played the Wing Chun grandmaster. I spoke with the multi-talented Yen earlier this year in promotion of his upcoming film, Wu Xia (or Dragon). The period film, set in 1917 China, revolves around an investigation into his character, Liu Jinxi, and the mysterious death of two criminals that were attempting to rob a general store. Some have likened the film to David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, and the careful balance between fighting for what is right even if it doesn’t benefit the greater good is touched on.
While the conversation strayed from touching on Dragon directly, I did get his thoughts on playing a character with a reserved nature, the differences between a period film and a modern film, and his preferences between the two. Additionally, we talked about how he feels he is a martial arts chameleon, his reason for turning down The Expendables 2, how much he trains between films, his love of MMA, and much more. You can find the complete interview after the jump.
With the Cannes Film Festival in full swing, expect lots of acquisition stories this week. Today, Open Road Films, which is owned by AMC and Regal Entertainment, made its first acquisition with the U.S. rights to Killer Elite. The action-thriller, directed by Gary McKendry, stars Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro. The film is inspired by true events, and centers on a retired special-ops agent (Statham) who must reunite his old team in order to rescue their mentor (De Niro). Killer Elite is set to be released this fall.
In addition, The Weinstein Company has acquired the world rights to martial arts, film noir epic Wu Xia. Directed by Ho-Sun Chan, the film stars Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Tang Wei. Hit the jump to read both press releases.
Straight out of the American Film Market (AFM), we’ve got some new images from a few upcoming films. First up is Hunky Dory, which is a musical from the producer of 2000’s Billy Elliott and starring Minnie Driver. The film is directed by Marc Evans (Snow Cake) and centers on a drama teacher who mounts a rock ‘n roll version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in a 1970’s high school. The flick will feature an impressive soundtrack that includes the music of David Bowie, The Beach Boys, and Pink Floyd. Skills is a Swedish parkour movie, starring Marcus Gustafsson who is one of the world’s leading parkour-artists. It features fight choreography by Ong Bak 2’s Tim Man and is directed by Johannes Pinter (Sleepwalker). Finally, Wu Xia is a martial arts film from Peter Ho-Sun Chan (The Warlords) starring Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Tang Wei. Hit the jump to check out the images/promo posters.