Donnie Yen Pushed Back Against Asian Stereotypes In John Wick 4 And Rogue One

The actor asked: "Why does he always have to be called Shang or Chang?"


Actor Donnie Yen has opened up about the Asian stereotypes he's constantly encountered in Hollywood over the years. While the martial artist has played a range of roles in Asian cinema, he expressed his frustrations with how generic things can be in the States.

Speaking with GQ, Yen gave an example of this typecasting with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The actor says it was his idea to make his character, Chirrut Îmwe, blind, as well as a bit more comedic. "One thing I pointed out is he was a stereotype," Yen said regarding early drafts of the story. "Typical master. Doesn't smile."

More recently, Yen fought back against similar issues with John Wick: Chapter 4. He plays the assassin Caine in the upcoming film, but that wasn't the character's original name. "The name was Shang or Chang," he said. "Why does he always have to be called Shang or Chang?

"Why can't he have a normal name? Why do you have to be so generic? Then the wardrobe again--oh, mandarin collars. Why is everything so generic? This is a John Wick movie. Everybody's supposed to be cool and fashionable. Why can't he look cool and fashionable?"

Yen did follow this up by saying he enjoyed his time on set, stating, "I had a very respectful experience working on John Wick." Collaborating with director Chad Stahelski, Yen altered Caine's wardrobe, saying the new look seen in the film is a bit of an homage to Bruce Lee.

John Wick: Chapter 4 will have the most action in the series "by a good margin," according to star Keanu Reeves. The actor also became too good at driving while preparing for car stunts in the movie.

Yen and Reeves will be seen in John Wick: Chapter 4 later this month when the movie premieres March 24.

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