Ip Man star Donnie Yen takes on Disney movies for his kids
As journey playing Ip Man comes to an end, his legacy with Disney may just be beginning
His Ip Man journey may be ending with the upcoming release of Ip Man 4: The Finale. But Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen's Disney career is just taking off.
And the 56-year-old father of three will gladly walk that path for his two teenage children.
He will be starring in the live-action adaptation of Disney's Mulan as the titular heroine's mentor, Commander Tung, next March.
He had previously gained international recognition for playing blind warrior Chirrut Imwe in 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Yen, who was in town to promote the fourth and final instalment of the Ip Man franchise, told The New Paper in a group interview on Tuesday: "I am a big fan of Disney movies, and I have probably watched Mulan together with my (15-year-old) daughter for about a hundred times."
He added: "To be honest, I did not want to do either Mulan or Star Wars because the roles offered to me were not what I wanted to take on as an actor, or be missing my family because of filming (overseas).
"But (in the case of Star Wars), my children encouraged me to take it up by saying, 'Of course, you are the one with the Force', and I thought that sounded pretty good."
Does being a part of these Disney films make him an idol in his children's eyes then?
"I hope so, but they have never said it out loud," he joked.
With the Star Wars film franchise coming to a definitive end with The Rise Of Skywalker, and Disney+ releasing spin-offs of Star Wars side characters like The Mandolorian, Yen said he would be "excited and happy" if asked to star in one based on his character in the Star Wars universe.
He said: "I appreciate Disney wanted me to be part of the family - both the Princess and the Empire families - and allowing me to endorse the Force."
For now, Yen reprises his role as the renowned Wing Chun grandmaster in Ip Man 4, which opens here on Dec 20.
In this sequel, Ip Man seeks a better future for his son and decides to travel to the US.
However, he finds that the stable, peaceful life abroad is only skin deep.
He then re-examines his position and ponders on the reason he took up martial arts in the first place.
Yen reassured local media that while this is his final gongfu movie, it is definitely not his last action film.
He said: "A gongfu film is definitely an action movie but an action movie may not necessarily be a gongfu film.
"Gongfu films are shaped by Chinese culture and created by Chinese film-makers.
" There is a certain level of difficulty and knowledge one needs to have in terms of their foundation of basic gongfu because there is a certain style to each move and step."
SHOWBIZ FOR HIS KIDS?
As much as Yen enjoys his career despite all the injuries and challenges that come with the job, he does not intend to encourage his children to follow in his footsteps.
He said: "I will not object to it if they are genuinely keen.
"But I feel that venturing into this industry requires a kind of affinity because it is quite tough and I do not really want my kids to suffer."