International Icon Donnie Yen on His Latest Blockbuster Hit ‘Raging Fire’《怒火》5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Behind the glitz and glamour of stardom, it’s easy to forget the toil and pain superstars go through to scale and stay at the top. The sacrifices perhaps come doubly so for action stars such as Donnie Yen, who constantly put their body on the line to present the very best for the audience.
Best known for his role as the Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man, Yen has emerged as an international icon, starring in Hollywood franchises such as Star Wars and in Disney’s 2020 live-action remake of Mulan. His latest blockbuster, Raging Fire, has ignited the Chinese Box Office, continuing to top the charts after almost a month since its debut. Hong Kong action thriller will be making its wide release in Singapore tomorrow 19 August.
Sinema.SG was on the phone with Donnie Yen earlier in the month, sharing with the local press about the blockbuster from Germany, where he is currently filming John Wick: Chapter 4.
In Raging Fire, Yen stars as a stoic police investigator set for a titanic clash against a former ex-cop turned deranged criminal, played by Nicholas Tse. The action blockbuster is acclaimed director Benny Chan’s final feature before his untimely passing in 2020. The veteran director was known for hits such as Who Am I?, New Police Story, and The White Storm.
Chan and Yen first worked together for television series Kung Fu Master and Fist of Fury in the 1990s. For Yen, the completion of Raging Fire made him cherish life’s fleetingness. “I have seen a lot of praise for Raging Fire. But at the same time, the film’s director is no longer around and unable to share in the love. It’s a tragic situation.”
Yen cherishes the time he had with the late director. He shared how the years they had apart did not dissipate any of their chemistry. “From the scriptwriting stages all the way to the shoots, it was always a happy experience working with him. Both of us shared a deep passion for filmmaking.”
“It was very hard for all of us to accept how sudden his passing was. Even now, it still feels like he never left.”
Yen and Chan originally planned to make a crime film that would span Mexico and Hong Kong. However, the plans were abandoned due to budgetary restraints. Chan was later spurred by Yen to collaborate on what would become Raging Fire. The actor was both elated to work with Chan and to work on a Hong Kong crime film — a genre he looked to bring his own approaches and perspectives to.
Raging Fire also marks the on-screen reunion of Yen and Tse, previously starring together in the 2006 martial arts film Dragon Tiger Gate. Yen said their chemistry has not missed a step. He noted the final showdown between the pair to be the most challenging to choreograph, and praised Tse for his action performances in the film.
Yen was on triple duty for Raging Fire, working as its producer, action director and its lead. Yen explained that each presented its own sets of obstacles. The high expectations he sets himself, intensified by his love for filmmaking and to deliver the best for the audience, naturally amounted to greater challenges to overcome.
It’s a passion for his craft that is perhaps most evidently showcased through his stunt work and fight scenes. Yen shared that he is constantly in pain from injuries accumulated over years of action work, only exacerbated with each new film.
In Raging Fire, Yen’s character limps home after a heated battle against a drug dealer and his lackeys. It’s a scene that mirrors Yen’s own experience after shoots. “If you don’t return home without any battle scars, how do you show how much you have given for your work?”
“On set, there is the excitement and adrenaline to bring out the best for the audience. After the shoot and after cooling down is when the pain sets in.”
Yen shared that what keeps him going despite the nagging injuries is his mindset and motivation to present the most thrilling scenes for every action film he works on. He is thankful for his wife Cissy Wang’s support, whose work on their production company, Bullet Films Production, has allowed Yen to devote his 100% to his screen work.
Yen will be filming John Wick: Chapter 4 for a few more months, with the film currently slated for a May 2022 release. On his experience working with Keanu Reeves, Yen said: “He is a really good person and we get along very well. Both of us love films.”
Catch Donnie Yen in Raging Fire, opening tomorrow, 19 August, in theatres islandwide.
Check back tomorrow for our review of the blockbuster (spoiler alert: it’s an action thriller not to be missed!).