I don’t know if I ever talked about my affliction here, but I’m a sucker for martial arts movies. This week Special ID starring Donnie Yen is coming to US theaters.
For those of you who don’t know, Donnie Yen is an amazing Chinese martial artists and actor whose actually been in a string of incredibly great movies. Whether you’re a fan of martial arts or not, the cream of the Donnie Yen crop are definitely worth your time to check out.
For no other reason than for a good excuse to watch a bunch of fight scenes, I decided to rank the top 5 best Donnie Yen movies out there and share them with you.
5. Iron Monkey
Ok, so you know that thing I said about people who don’t like martial arts films watching Donnie Yen movies. This isn’t the best example of that. But Iron Monkey is still a fantastic example of insane stunts, wire work and athleticism in film. It’s also pretty funny.
Hero is a wonderful movie starring Jet Li. Though Donnie Yen only appears for a single scene, it’s a great one that matches up the rhythm of the fight to some wonderful music. Hero isn’t just a great martial arts film, it’s a great example of story telling using brilliant colors to differentiate the 4 intricate story threads. Highly recommended for all people who love movies. If you like this one, watch House of Flying Daggers, and Curse of the Golden Flower.
3. Assassins and Bodyguards
If you’re looking for an epic movie where the stakes of a nation rest on a small group of ragtag militia as they defend the life of one man from an invading army, then Assassins and Bodyguards will be right up your ally. The story is told well, the characters feel real and as they sacrifice themselves for the greater good, their loss is poignant. This is another film with Donnie Yen as a supporting character, but he makes the most of his screen time with some great scenes.
2. Legend of the Fist
It was a bit of s struggle to decide whether this would make it to number one or it’s competitor. Then I thought, who cares, they’re both very different yet great films.
Legend of the Fist is actually an homage to the Bruce Lee movie Fist of Fury. While some real kung fu fans might think I’m insane, I think Legend of the Fist is the more enjoyable of the films, though they are both great. So how would I describe Legend of the Fist? Imagine The Dark Knight with a plot inspired by The Departed and you’ll have something close. It’s dark, gritty, violent, full of character, and a ton of fun.
I couldn’t find any high quality fight scenes from LofF on YouTube, so here’s the trailer which is just as good.
1. Ip Man
So why did Ip Man eek out a spot as number 1? Because of its charm. Donnie Yen exudes charisma as the legendary real life martial artist Ip Man, made famous by his training of Bruce Lee in Bruce’s younger years. To be honest, that training Bruce Lee thing is actually blown a little out of proportions because Bruce left China when he was young and lived in Seattle. But the movie doesn’t focus on any of that, those are just fun facts.
Ip Man is a tale told in two parts, first following Mr. Ip as he protects his name as the best martial artist in his home town one challenger at a time. But then the Japanese invade leaving Ip destitute, working coal for a potato a day. It’s a moving story and one I’ve seen at least six or seven times. If you don’t know who Donnie Yen is, start here and be prepared to fall in love with an action star.
Is Special ID going to knock any of these films off this list, probably not, but it promises to be another great action movie to add to Donnies arsenal of over 60 films. I can feel the kung fu urge again, there might be a few more of these lists coming soon, their just too much fun. Are any of you out there fans of Kung Fu movies?