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John Wick 4’s Donnie Yen on Asian Stereotypes in Name and Clothes – The Hollywood Reporter


Donnie Yen plays a killer named Kane in the future John Wick: Chapter 4The veteran Hong Kong action hero had to fight for that name and fashionable suit collars when he blasted Asian stereotypes in the film’s original script, Yen told GQ magazine in a recent interview.

“The name was Shang or Chang,” Yen said of the typecast behind his character’s initial identity. “Why should he always be called Shang or Chang? Why shouldn’t he have an ordinary name? Why should he be so generic?”

And Yen wasn’t particularly impressed that the wardrobe originally gave him his Mandarin collars. “Why is everything so public? This is the John Wick film. Everyone is supposed to be cool and trendy. Why doesn’t it look cool and trendy? He added about his character Kane.

So, with some urgency, John Wick 4 Director Chad Stahelski agreed to change the name and costume sense for the character of Elaine. Not that the Hong Kong actor wants to bash his latest movie for disrespecting Chinese culture or playing it safe with his persona.

“I had a very respectable experience working on it John Wick. Overall, I enjoyed making the movie,” he insists, adding that he feels Hollywood’s typecasting isn’t even conscious.

Representatives for Stahelski and John Wick 4 He hasn’t responded yet Hollywood ReporterComment request.

He noted that he was approached by Disney to appear in 2016 star Wars prefix Rogue One.

In early drafts of the script, Yen’s character, Chirute Omoi, was the same general martial arts warrior he was introduced to in the seminal Hong Kong films. “One thing I pointed out was that it was a stereotype. Typical mister. Don’t smile,” Elaine recounted.

Again, Yen approached the director’s chair to suggest that his character might be blind and have a sense of humor. Getting permission to improvise jokes on set would also turn a ditzy character into a potentially standout screen performance.

The Chinese-born yen is a household name worldwide thanks to its proven popularity ip man Movie series has crossed over to hollywood with outings in Rogue One: Star Wars storywhich has grossed more than $1 billion, and a live-action Disney remake, Mulan.

So as a martial arts movie icon, Yen is not someone to be ignored or messed with on movie sets. He impressed the Hong Kong movie scene when he starred in Yuen Woo-ping’s martial arts comedy Drunken tai chi.

He has influenced action films all over the world and has become a major figure not only in Chinese action cinema but also in worldwide motion pictures. His talent extends beyond acting in films to producing, directing and choreographing as well.

In exchange for this career achievement and the prohibition of specific freedom and creativity, Yen isn’t particularly interested in Hollywood roles these days. Yen said, “If I am not allowed to control my creativity, it is not worth my time.” GQ After turning down roles earlier in the Expandable and DC Aquaman.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.