Rumour: Donnie Yen joining STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII

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If you’ve visited this site for any extended period of time – or even just met me! – you would know that I really don’t need any additional reasons to get excited for a Star Wars movie. Clearly, the universe disagrees though, as its set my fanboy heat a-fluttering with a report from Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily (via TwitchFilm) that Chinese martial arts movie superstar Donnie Yen has signed on for a role in the still untitled Star Wars: Episode VII.

Can you hear that? That’s the sound of thousands of fan boys/girls losing the minds over the possibility of wuxia with a lightsaber. I should know: I’m one of them.

According to the report director Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) selected the Ip Man leading man from a group of prospects that included other notable Hong Kong action stars like Jet Li, Stephen Chow, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Daniel Wu, Wang Leehom and Chang Chen.

However, that rumour tag up top is earned due to this report having a few sketchy details. Firstly, Apple Daily, like most other tabloids, have a habit of sensationalizing stories. Secondly, the report claims that Yen is set to jet over to London next month to begin shooting with the likes of Harrison Ford, however not only is Ford not confirmed to be returning for Episode VIII yet, but according to what all the industry insiders are hearing, Johnson’s follow-up to the currently in-post-production Star Wars: The Force Awakens is only scheduled to start shooting in early 2016 at best.

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Now it could be that Apple Daily got their wires crossed and Yen is actually joining Gareth “Godzilla” Edwards’ Star Wars Anthology spinoff movie Rogue One, as Twitch have apparently heard that that production – which began shooting last week – was looking for Asian actors. However, unless there’s something screwy going on, Harrison Ford is not meant to be in that film, which takes place before the events of the Original Trilogy.

There are no details given about what Yen’s role could possibly be, but if he does end up in Rogue One – which seems more likely – then we unfortunately won’t be seeing him spinning a lightsaber, as Edwards has already said that he is making a war movie without the Jedi. Also, based on the trailers and what little info we have for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it doesn’t appear that there are really any other Jedi besides Luke Skywalker in the new Star Wars Universe (although the title would imply that the Force is becoming stronger, perhaps giving rise to new Jedi?). As much of a bummer as that missed opportunity may be, a bounty hunter or soldier with Yen’s physical skills would certainly still be pretty damn cool to see in this universe though.

If this rumour turns out to be true though, it would certainly come as no surprise. With China rapidly becoming one of the most important movie markets in the world, several major Hollywood productions are scrambling to include Asian stars in their lineup in the hopes of garnering some international appeal. Star Wars: The Force Awakens already boasts the incredible martial arts talents of The Raid‘s Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman in some still unrevealed capacity, so the addition of Donnie Yen makes a lot of sense.

Last Updated: July 8, 2015

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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