John Wick: Chapter 4: Donnie Yen on a possible spin-off for Caine and Tarantino’s Bruce Lee portrayal


The star of Ip Man, Flash Point, and Kill Zone finally breaks through to Hollywood and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is finally giving Donnie Yen some immense exposure in the U.S. The martial arts cinema legend is nearing 60 years old and has been in the business since the 80s. He has previously been seen in American productions such as Blade II, Shanghai Knights, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. However, John Wick is the first time he’s been given a significant supporting character role as Caine, the blind assassin who is tasked to hunt down the titular character. Audiences are pretty unanimous in thinking that Yen steals the movie, and the Ip Man star speaks with Variety on where Caine might go from here.

If you’ve already seen Chapter 4, you’ve witnessed the glory that is Yen. He hasn’t slowed down one iota, which is immensely impressive for a 59-year-old. The film’s director, Chad Stahelski, calls Donnie a “machine of athleticism.” It’s inevitable, especially nowadays, that if a supporting character is proving to be popular in a film, they are somewhat destined to get a spin-off. Although he has just now really broken through with mass audiences in the U.S., he is still excited to continue his journey as Caine. “I’d love to do a John Wick spinoff centered around Caine. There’s always ‘talks’ in Hollywood,” laughs Donnie.

Stahelski would continue to glow about Donnie’s physical prowess, recalling a time on set, “We’re doing the museum [scene], and it’s the first time Keanu and Donnie interacted, and we were using the nunchucks. We had a little piece of choreography — it was a bit of punch, kick, punch, kick, back and forth. We started moving, and you realize how fast Donnie really is.” 

Yen, like most martial artists, cites Bruce Lee as one of his biggest inspirations. He’s emulated the legend on several occasions. When Quentin Tarantino featured a dramatization of Lee in his film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the director collected much criticism from fans as well as Bruce’s daughter, Shannon Lee. Donnie, being a huge Bruce fan, shared his impression of the controversial scene, “Everybody is entitled to their opinions. Quentin Tarantino is a very renowned filmmaker, and he’s entitled to his status. And I’m entitled to state my own view. Obviously, he was making fun of Bruce. It was cartoonish.”

Amid the Hollywood politics, Yen is still game to work dual films in both China and America. He’s turned down such projects as Expendables 4 and Aquaman 2 due to conflicts in timing, but if his normally busy schedule permits, Yen is “up for anything.”

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