Donnie Yen says he fought for his ‘John Wick,’ ‘Star Wars’ characters to not be Asian stereotypes

Donnie Yen says he fought for his ‘John Wick,’ ‘Star Wars’ characters to not be Asian stereotypesDonnie Yen says he fought for his ‘John Wick,’ ‘Star Wars’ characters to not be Asian stereotypes
donnie yen john wick star wars
Bryan Ke
March 1, 2023
Donnie Yen recently revealed that the production team behind “John Wick: Chapter 4” redesigned his character Caine after he spoke out against it being an Asian stereotype.
In an interview with GQ, Yen, 59, shared that he spoke to “John Wick: Chapter 4” director Chad Stahelski about making adjustments to Caine, a blind assassin whose first iteration allegedly employed several Asian tropes.
The name was Shang or Chang,” the “Ip Man” star said. “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?” he continued.
Yen also shared during his interview that he was able to pay homage to his idol, Bruce Lee, through Caine’s new look.
While details about the Hong Kong actor’s role were kept under wraps following the film’s announcement in June 2021, a trailer released in November 2022 revealed that he will face off against Keanu Reeves’ suave, suit-wearing titular assassin.
Additional details also revealed that Caine will be joining the ranks of antagonists such as Cassian (hip-hop rapper Common) from “Chapter 2” and Zero (“Wu Assassins” star Mark Dacascos) from “Chapter 3.”
Yen noted during his GQ interview that his actions were not a form of criticism toward “Chapter 4.”
I had a very respectful experience working on ‘John Wick.’ Overall, I enjoyed making the film,” he said.
The publication also noted that Yen has become more selective when offered Hollywood roles and asks if the roles are respectful to Chinese culture and unique.
He notably turned down a role in “The Expendables” franchise due to how Jet Li, who played the character Yin Yang, was portrayed in the first film.
Yen previously played a blind character in another big-budget project: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” The martial artist, who portrayed Chirrut Îmwe in the 2016 film, told GQ that he also asked for a redesign of his character after taking issue with him in early script drafts.
One thing I pointed out is he was a stereotype. Typical master. Doesn’t smile,” shared Yen, who suggested making Chirrut Îmwe blind. He also proposed letting his character have a sense of humor so that he could improvise jokes.
In addition to “Ip Man” and “Rogue One,” Yen rose to fame by appearing in films such as “Hero,” “Iron Monkey,” “Raging Fire,” “Once Upon a Time in China,” “Blade II,” “Chasing the Dragon” opposite Andy Lau, “Shanghai Knights” opposite Jackie Chan, and “Mulan” opposite Liu Yifei. In 2016, he starred in Netflix’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny” opposite Harry Shum Jr. and Michelle Yeoh.
John Wick: Chapter 4” is set for release on March 24.

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