We’ve been tracking a number of rumors that relate to the upcoming Star Wars films, including the anthology film Star Wars: Rogue One and the new trilogy that will kick off with Star Wars: The Force Awakens this December. Of all the rumors we’ve heard, this one is perhaps the most exciting.
It is being reported this week that Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen (Ip Man) has landed a role in Star Wars: Episode VIII. The move makes sense, as today’s blockbusters are always looking to bolster their casts with recognizable faces from Asia to assist with box office numbers in that booming region.
More importantly, Yen is a one of the world’s foremost action stars, a martial arts cinema legend who is as well-known as any actor working in Asia, but has yet to really cross over into any American productions. We’ve always enjoyed his work – from Ip Man to Flash Point to Legend of the Fist – but we’ve almost always had to import his work. In the early 2000s, he dabbled in more American mainstream work, appearing in Blade II, Jet Li’s Hero and the Jackie Chan/Owen Wilson action comedy Shanghai Knights, but he’s never quite been featured in a massive blockbuster, despite having plenty of talent.
The bad news here is that the rumor comes from Apple Daily, a tabloid in Hong Kong. So the reliability of the report is suspect. The report also says that Yen will be playing a Jedi and will be shooting scenes with Harrison Ford as early as next month. Considering what we know so far about Rian Johnson’s film, which isn’t much, the only thing we can really confirm is that it does begin shooting soon. We don’t yet know how much of a presence Jedis will have in the film, nor do we know if Harrison Ford is going to appear.
And as Ethan Anderton notes over at /Film, there have been a number of Chinese actors rumored to be in consideration for Gareth Edwards’ Star Wars: Rogue One. This list includes the likes of Jet Li, Stephen Chow, Tony Leung, Chiu Wai, Daniel Wu, Wang Leehom and Chang Chen. Yen’s name fits neatly alongside those names, which could indicate that the Apple Daily rumor is mistaken.
So we’ll take this one as a rumor for now, but one that we can support, nonetheless. Adding Donnie Yen’s incredible martial arts abilities to the Star Wars universe is by no means a bad thing.