'Kill Zone' is one of my favorite Hong Kong action films to emerge since the Chinese takeover back in 1997. It's an excellent film with some incredible action sequences and a really engaging story that never rises above the traditional Asian action movie tropes, but manages to work thanks to the performances of an all-star cast. The film arrives on Blu-ray today (exclusively at Best Buy), meaning we can now watch Donnie Yen kick butt in glorious high definition. In celebration of this momentous event, I've selected seven of my favorite Donnie Yen fight scenes. I've kept the choices fairly recent, and I know there are worthy contenders that didn't get included, so I hope you'll view the clips and then share some of your own favorite Donnie Yen scenes in the comments section below.
Donnie Yen vs. Collin Chou
Wilson Yip's 2007 prequel to the much loved 'Kill Zone' (aka 'Sha Po Lang'), not only stars Yen, but is produced by the actor as well -- and features his own fight choreography. Pretty standard for a badass like Yen. But what isn't standard is the way he uses a typical martial arts style and incorporates MMA-styled grappling. The result is something grittier, not as flashy, but still ultimately important to the evolution of martial arts cinema. In this scene, Yen takes on Collin Chou, who is a member of the Triad gang that Yen -- a policeman -- is trying to circumvent by planting his friend on the inside. Ok, so 'Flash Point' doesn't have Simon Yam or Sammo Hung, and delivers a bit of a hoary Hong Kong cliche, but the showdown that results between the two men leaves a lasting impression.
Flash Point - "movie "Donnie Yen vs Collin Chou
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Once Upon a Time in China 2
Donnie Yen vs. Jet Li
Allow me to be girly for a moment, but Donnie Yen and Jet Li squaring off? Swoon! Yen and Li go head to head at the end of Tsui Hark's 'Once Upon a Time in China 2.' The face-off between Li's Wong Fei-hung and Yen's General Nap-lan has been hailed as one of Li's greatest cinematic showdowns. There's no denying that as we watch Yen and Li fight on bamboo poles, armed with bamboo poles, and then Yen gets really serious when he breaks out the cloth staff (which is exactly what it sounds like and totally awesome when Yen starts whipping it around his head ... ) Video Spoiler Warning: Our man Nap-lan isn't the victor of this deadly duel, but Yen gets to show off his skills quite nicely in this classic action sequence.
Donnie Yen vs. Yen Shi-kwan
Even though Donnie doesn't get to play the title character in 1993's 'Iron Monkey,' he does have the honor of playing the legendary Wong Fei-hung's father in the film. He also gets to don the Iron Monkey outfit and fight alongside Yu Rongguang (the real Iron Monkey) during the film's excellent climax. During his sequence, Yen's Wong and Iron Monkey square off against the villainous Hiu-hing (played gleefully by Yen Shi-kwan). There are more poles used in this fight sequence, which is an elaborate balancing act made even more menacing by the fire burning out of control below the men. While some are discouraged by the use of wires for the fast-paced action on display, a little wire-fu goes a long way in making this another classic martial arts movie.
Donnie Yen vs. Ten Black Belts
Ip Man, the biopic about Wing Chun Grandmaster Yip Man's life during the second Sino-Japanese War, is perhaps Yen's greatest performance to date. He was consumed by the role -- going on a strict diet and intense training in Wing Chun so that he could perform the film's elaborate fight sequences (conceived by Sammo Hung). In one of the film's most memorable moments, Yen lays the smackdown on not one, not two, not three ... but ten black belts at once. The grace, bone-crunching violence, and controlled fury make this another of Yen's finest fights.
Donnie Yen vs. Wu Jing
In celebration of 'Kill Zone's' Blu-ray release, I'm highlighting two scenes from the amazing film. In the first, Donnie battles with the impressive Wu Jing. The two face off in an alley, armed with a knife and a police baton. Rumor has it that the scene was largely improvised by the two actors at director Wilson Yip's suggestion. If that's the case, Yen and Wu have crafted something amazing. Wu comes across as the heroic Yen's equal in this fight and the speed of both performers is incredible. While not as long as some of the other fight scenes I've highlighted, this one is still fierce.
Donnie Yen vs. Sammo Hung
This list wouldn't be complete without a face-off between Donne and Sammo Hung. After Yen deals with Wu Jing, he heads on to an even more impressive fight at 'Kill Zone's' climax. Donnie and Sammo Hung exchange blows during the film's last, most impressive sequence. The two masters battle it out in an athletic sparring session that's interrupted by a phone call from Hung's wife, who is waiting for him in a car outside. Yen is spot on as usual, but Hung does eclipse him slightly -- if only because it's amazing to see a guy Sammo's age and size move with such speed and power. Regardless, this an epic scene that wraps up one of the best Hong Kong action films in recent years.
Donnie Yen vs. Jet Li
Donnie and Jet Li meet up again in Zhang Yimou's achingly beautiful 2002 film 'Hero.' Li plays Nameless, a gifted swordsman, while Yen plays Sky, who is adept with a spear. The two engage in a well choreographed fight with aural accompaniment from a blind Guzheng player. There's definitely a lot of wire-work in the scene, but that doesn't detract from the athleticism of the two performers in the least. The weapon-play and movements are breathtaking in their complexity and execution, and Li and Yen are at the top of their game.