Ever since the first John Wick movie came out, martial arts enthusiasts have been asking for the film to cast Donnie Yen. This is because Yen is a famous action star and martial artist who would be a great villain to Keanu Reeves' assassin role.
And thankfully, Lionsgate Films has listened to the public's request and has cast Yen as part of the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 4. Now that the film is nearing its release (after a couple of years of delays), we can't help but wonder what role Yen will be playing and whether or not he will be a villain.
Without much ado, here's what we know about Yen's role in John Wick 4 so far.
Who Is Donnie Yen?
Originally born as Donnie Yen Ji-dan, Yen is a Chinese, actor, martial artist, and director who is about to turn 60 years old. He is known for bringing MMA into the Asian film industry after incorporating MMA into his films like the Ip Man movies, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and xXx: Return of Xander Cage.
Despite being regarded as one of the top action stars of Hong Kong, Yen has found himself in the middle of a recent controversy. Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong called for Yen's boycott from the recently conducted 95th Academy Awards. The online petition urged the awards body to drop Yen from being a presenter after being able to gather almost 60,000 signatures.
Protesters claim that Yen is "helping to whitewash the Chinese regime" by "using films as a medium to tell positive stories of China and Hong Kong." The protesters have since been fighting for their rights to free speech, which Yen continues to enjoy since he is abroad. Meanwhile, Hong Kong filmmakers face a censorship law that prohibits films that potentially "endanger national security."
Who Is Donnie Yen Playing in John Wick 4?
Donnie Yen isn't the first martial artist to join the cast of the John Wick franchise. Before he got to join the movie franchise, other martial artists have been involved in the movies at one point. There are even some who have returned to perform stunts in the succeeding shows. Among the martial artists who have starred in the John Wick movies include Mark Dacascos, Gary Daniels, Tiger Chen, and many others.
For John Wick: Chapter 4, Yen will be joining the franchise as an old friend of John's. The interpretation of "friend" in John Wick terms, however, could have a different meaning.
Right now, we know very little of Yen's Caine character, except from what Yen described him as: "an old, blind man with a cane." The cane, however, can be transformed into a sword that Caine uses against his opponents.
But this wasn't the original character that Yen was supposed to play. As CBR reported, Yen fought very hard to fight stereotypical tropes by changing his character in the franchise.
The original screenplay created an old-school Asian look for Yen, who was supposed to be called Shang or Chang. Yen approached the director, Chad Stahelski, and talked to him about his role.
"The name was Shang or Chang. Why does he always have to be called Shang or Chang? Why can't he have a normal name? Why do you have to be so generic? Then the wardrobe again--oh, mandarin collars. Why is everything so generic? This is a John Wick movie. Everybody's supposed to be cool and fashionable. Why can't he look cool and fashionable?"
Is Donnie Yen the Main Villain in John Wick: Chapter 4?
In one of the trailers, we see Yen's character, Caine, getting into a match with John. There's also some evidence that points to Yen as a villain since he is beside Bill Skarsgård’s character, Marquis de Gramont.
In the trailer, we see Caine sitting beside Marquis as he is talking with someone. Caine doesn't seem to be involved in the meeting, which hints that Marquis could be a bigger character than him. It's possible that Caine could be one of the bodyguards of Marquis, which would make sense if Marquis was a super villain.
Either way, we're pretty excited to see Yen kick some butt in John Wick 4, whether he is the main villain or a hired bodyguard.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is coming to theaters on March 24, 2023.
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