Best Action Scenes of All-Time: Donnie Yen Edition - The Part-Time Critic

Friday, June 26, 2020

Best Action Scenes of All-Time: Donnie Yen Edition

*Scroll down past the following paragraphs to skip the summary and go straight to the sequences

Donnie Yen is a special action talent that has unfortunately not received as large a acclaimed reception in the US as other Hong Kong crossovers like Jet Li and Jackie Chan. I first came across Yen in the 2004's Hero and later discovered he had already fought Jet Li back in the early 1990's in the Once Upon a Time in China series. In both of those (minor) international successes, you could tell Donnie Yen was special - he had a speed and crispness that matched few others on the screen.

Yen went on to make several genre-defining Hong Kong hits in the 2000's with Yip Wilson. He really struck audiences with Kill Zone and Flash Point, but it was 2009's Ip Man that would prove to be his most lasting success and iconic character. The combination of Sammo Hung's cinematic translation of wing chun in incredibly refreshing choreography, Yen's crisp and brutal speed, and Wilson's (the director) ability to transcend the mediocrity of the genre proved to be a winning formula.

If you are looking for a good primer on Yen, then look no further than my top five. I think his finale fight from Flash Point is his masterpiece and the best showcase of his speed, visceral impact, and ability to incorporate modern styles. Seek out his fight finale fight from Ip Man 3 for his best all-around fight as the iconic Ip Man, but the Japanese dojo fight from the first Ip Man (at my number 5 spot) is probably the most iconic. Scene three is another example of Yen's quickness, this time with a weapon, and the fourth scene is a great example of how Yen's ability translate into a top notch traditional Hong Kong wire-fu context. Enjoy.

Top Twenty-Five Action Sequences
25. “Police stakeout goes awry as Yen and killer fight and flee” -Kung Fu Jungle (Killer)
24. “Finale: Wong Fe-Hung vs. The Commander Donnie Yen” -Once Upon a Time in China II (Link)
23. “Ip Man Defends the Cotton Mill and Fights Against Two Old Foes” -Ip Man (Link)
22. “Yen vs. Steel Claw in the Woods” -The Legend of the Wolf (Link)
21. “Finale: Seven Swords Arrive in Time to Save the Village” -Seven Swords (Link)
20. “Final Fight with the General” -Ip Man (Link)
19. “Assassin Fight: From Elevator to the Street” -Flash Point (Part 1(Part 2)
18. “Finale Rooftop Fight - Getting Back Mother” -In the Line of Duty 4: Witness (Link)
17. “A ‘Friendly’ Pole Fight: Yen vs. Jet Li” -Once Upon a Time in China II (Link)
16. “Master Ip defeats Master Shin: Feather vs Sword” -Ip Man (Link)
15. “Marine Scott Adkins vs. Ip Man” -Ip Man 4: The Finale (Link)
14. “Donnie Yen vs. Sammo Hung” -Kill Zone (Link)
13. “Ip Man vs the Local Masters and Sammo Hung” -Ip Man 2 (Link)
12. “Chen Zhen Finale in a Japanese Dojo and Against the General” -Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (Link)
11. “Wong Kei-Ying Stops Kidnappers at Nighttime” -Iron Monkey

Top Ten
10. “Ip Man vs. Thai Fighter in an Elevator” -Ip Man 3 (Link)
9. “Iron Monkey and Wong Kei-Ying Fight Buddha's Palm and His Goons” -Iron Monkey (Link)
8. “Ip Man vs. Mike Tyson” -Ip Man 3 (Link)
7. “Nameless vs. Sky in the Mind” -Hero (Link)
6. “Final Street Traffic Showdown: Donnie Yen vs Wang Baoqiang” -Kung Fu Jungle (Killer) (Link)
5. “Ip Man Takes Out Ten Japanese in One Fight” -Ip Man (Link)
4. “Finale: Rescuing Wong Fe-Hung and Taking On Buddha's Palm and His Goons” -Iron Monkey (Link)
3. “Donnie Yen vs. Wu Jing: Baton and Knife Fight” -Kill Zone (Link)
2. “Ip Man vs. Cheung Tin-Shi for Wing Chun Grandmaster” -Ip Man 3 (Link)

1. “Yen vs. Chou: Abandoned Home Fight” -Flash Point (Link)
What makes Donnie Yen fight scenes so special? Two things: first is the crisp quickness in his striking form and second is the ability to combine that with a traditional or modern style. Whether it's the MMA inspired moments of the abandoned home fight (with brutal slow-mo impact showcases) in Flash Point or the blink and you'll miss it compact nature of wing chun in Ip Man - Yen deserves a spot in any action fans heart.

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