Donnie Yen Believes Chinese Film Industry Can Surpass Hollywood

By on March 19, 2018 in Movies, NEWS

Donnie Yen Believes Chinese Film Industry Can Surpass Hollywood

Donnie Yen (甄子丹) is not only a household name in Chinese entertainment, but has also found success in Hollywood, having been invited to leave his handprints at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in 2016. In the past few years, the martial arts star has portrayed substantial roles in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and x X x: Return of Xander Cage.

Reflecting on his filming experiences in Hollywood, Donnie praised that the treatment of Chinese actors has improved tremendously. Though treatment is still not quite on par with their American counterparts, it is much better than it was before. “Nine and half out of ten films focus on white people. In recent years, there has indeed been an increase of Chinese actors. However, many would not have substantial roles and are just added into the film to meet the [Chinese market’s] demand. I am very fortunate that both my roles were significant [to the storyline]. It will take some time to achieve equality. Of course, we have to persevere.”

The 54-year-old actor lamented that there is still quite a gap between the successes of the Chinese film industry in comparison to Hollywood. The biggest deficiency in the Chinese film industry is financial resources. “Hollywood films have a clear financial investment source. The film industry is an enterprise. For us Chinese people though, we are stuck in the mindset of the film industry being a personal business. This is the biggest difference.”

However, Donnie firmly believes that the Chinese entertainment industry can surpass Hollywood. “If we filmed for 1.3 billion people to watch and had $1.3 billion in financial resources, we would have more room for creativity. In the future, we could surpass Hollywood. Our films will be for the viewing pleasure of the Mainland Chinese audience. We would surpass Hollywood, because we have a larger population.”

Many media sources praised that Donnie would be the perfect fit for the role of Batman. Donnie responded, “They are just joking! The entire world’s film market has a white person as the main lead. In the future, there will be such a chance [that a Chinese will be a lead in mainstream films], but there is still a long road of hard work ahead. If you want success, you have to make sacrifices. If you do nothing, then you will get nothing in return. A successful person has to make sacrifices and gain experiences before they can reach the finish line. I film every day with this mentality and do my best.”

Source: Oriental Daily

This article is written by Huynh for

20 comments to Donnie Yen Believes Chinese Film Industry Can Surpass Hollywood

  1. funnlim says:

    “Hollywood films have a clear financial investment source. ”

    But almost every hollywood movie I see is financed by China hence Jing Tian in every single hollywood walk on role.

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  2. mike says:

    Donnie Yen is not a easy person to get along in the movie set. Lots of HK stars have come out and said he has a temper. Wonder how he behaves himself in Hollywood sets.

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    • dook replied:

      @mike And which HK stars would those be?

      Also, being strict is part of movie-making. You cannot achieve anything if you don’t work hard enough or at least push your limits to challenge and bring the best result out of yourself. The movie business isn’t as easy as you think. Pretty much all of the old generation Hong Kong filmmakers/actors had to develop this strict habit to get their careers ahead

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      • mike replied:

        @dook Fat Gor and Aaron Kwok both have commented on his temper. With Fat Gor being more vocal regarding the same.

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      • dook replied:

        @mike Only two… That’s not ALOT. And them pointing out his temper doesn’t mean anything as they have been seen socializing together years after the release of the first Monkey King movie. That’s just how Donnie works on set.

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      • mike replied:

        @dook 2 of the biggest stars in HK has already came out and commented about his anger issue and you are trying to defend Donnie on technicality. Why don’t you conduct an interview with all the HK stars so you can prove Fat Gor and Aaron wrong for talking about Donnie’s anger issue without video evidence.
        You don’t have be an arse to the film crew to get things done. Being respectful to other colleagues can go a long way.

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      • dook replied:

        @mike Two names doesn’t substitute for several other unspecified names you just claimed so my point still stands. Let’s talk facts here and not going off topic talking about me defending Donnie (a typical sign of running out of steam), at least being technical is better than claiming things out in thin air without backing up with anything crucial.

        As far as I know about their comments, they took place in the very press conference of The Monkey King and was done in a joking manner as part of marketing their product. But please do provide me some links where they have talked about Donnie’s temper in great details elsewhere. Also, don’t talk about anger issues when temper was just talked about. They are two different things.

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  3. m0m0 says:

    i don’t know if asians would really find equality in terms of numbers in hollywood. afterall, we are merely 8% of the population. we are mostly in the major cities, even in those major cities, you won’t have to travel too far out to find that you are the only asian arounds. for example, i am looking at summer camps for my children, as diverse of a city I live in, the summer camps are either all whites or all black. asians/hispanics are rare breeds.

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  4. coralie says:

    He’s partially wrong. Money is not the main problem. It’s the scripts. You can make a great movie on a low budget; the issue is making a movie marketable to a greater audience and appeal to everyone.

    Lots of Asian movies these days are geared more toward gloss and cinematography. There’s a reason we usually win awards for that category. But when it comes to great storylines? Maybe we get one or two a year. It’s not better or worse than Hollywood, but when you consider the scale of people and talent that are available in China, it’s tragic.

    Also, too many bans in place. How can you freely make movies if your country bans every controversial topic that arises? I mean, it’s not impossible, but limits the scope of creativity and variety.

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    • m0m0 replied:

      yeah, low budget can still make quality shows. w/ the education system in china, not likely that there’d be a bigger break through.

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    • mangotango replied:

      @coralie I am not a fan of all Hollywood movies. Yet I doubt China can catch up in the next 10 years. They have the $$ and potential talent but these talent needs to be nurtured and allowed to grow profusely. The problem as I personally see it is governmental control to the point of being utterly phobic and close minded. There is no way creativity can thrive in this environment.

      The big budget China movies are filled with glamourous costumes and special effects but as @coralie pointed out, somehow lacking in brilliant scripts and depth. I blame it partly on the audience. China audience seems to enjoy glitter and gold, heroes and heroines. All actors and actresses must be pretty and glamourous. Or it must not paint Chinese in a bad light. Real life is never pretty. IMO, a good movie is one which leaves me with an unforgettable line or scene which opens one’s heart and mind. Or something which we ordinary beings can relate to. It needn’t be a big budget movie with special effect flicks. In fact, personally, I am tired of movies with too much special effects and little depth. To be really good also mean it can compete internationally.

      I hope China can first start by allowing its current breed of talented producers, directors and scriptwriters, the freedom to express their ingenuity. Then Donnie can talk about surpassing Hollywood or others unless of course, he is talking about only Chinese tastes.

      @dook, @mike, I think having a bad temper and being a good director/producer is two different thing. Donnie can have a temper and yet is a brilliant director.

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      • dook replied:

        @mangotango Totally agree. Some people take their time or can handle pressure just fine, others have temper on duty. We all are different. I deal with some people with temper everyday at work and I still have no problem with them.

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    • llwy12 replied:

      @coralie Completely agree! Though the ironic thing is that more and more, Hollywood is trying to infiltrate the Chinese box office because they are starting to realize how lucrative that box office truly is. I was just reading an article the other day about a Hollywood movie (can’t remember exactly which one, I think it was Pacific Rim but not 100% sure) that didn’t fare well at all when it was released in the U.S., but when it was released in China, the box office intake far surpassed that of what it took in at the U.S. box office, which gave the movie a huge boost in the global box office front. So of course, Hollywood is now trying to get a bigger piece of the pie.

      I could be wrong but I think what Donnie meant was more along the lines of the above related to China’s lucrative box office due to its population, not necessarily having anything to do with creativity or talent. I think what he’s talking about is China pushing hard to be the global leader in entertainment but not necessarily having to change anything to do it — I mean, the fact is, even Hollywood is making movies geared specifically toward China now. And I never thought I would see this but some are actually trying to penetrate the China market through full immersion and actually learning the culture and what makes Chinese audiences tick. The most recent example is director Renny Harlin (who did Die Hard 2, Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Cliffhanger, and a bunch of other B movies in the 90s), who actually moved to China to learn their trade and is actually directing Chinese movies now (his latest movie is an action thriller starring Nick Cheung and Richie Ren). I read an interview that Harlin did with Hollywood Reporter and was impressed by how much he understood about the Chinese culture and the market in China after only about 4 years living and working there. Of course, most of Hollywood probably isn’t going to take the same path Harlin did and no doubt there is still a huge disparity between the two cultures, but I think I understand a little bit better what Donnie was trying to get at after reading about Harlin’s example and a few others.

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  5. gateroller1 says:

    Chinese film distributors need to understand that accessing Chinese film and actors also means providing the rest of the world with appropriate DVD region formats. There a lot of people like me (in UK) who love Chinese films but often have great difficulty getting hold of Region 0 format DVDs. Wake up Chinese film industry! There is a world market out there that is not being properly exploited. Chinese films and actors will be better known and appreciated with a bit more effort from distributors.

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    • kkcheong replied:

      @gateroller1 who buy dvd now? It’s either Blu-ray or streaming. What year are you living in? 2008? Omg

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      • wm2017 replied:

        @kkcheong lol….True…no one buys DVD’s anymore who needs them now that we have streaming. Pretty soon even Blue-ray’s will be gone.

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  6. winnie says:

    Main problem is the script. And just because you have 1.3B chinese doesn’t mean you would have 1.3B viewers and 1.3B financial resources to get creative. Hollywood is global, worldwide, combined roughly 7.5B … chance of leading the industry is low.

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    • coralie replied:

      @winnie other Asian countries watch Chinese dramas though. like Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, sometimes Thailand, HK, Taiwan, etc.

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  7. mama says:

    “Nine and half out of ten films focus on white people.”

    in china’s film industry is it also nine and half out of ten films focus on chinese people? or is it 100%

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    • msxie0714 replied:

      US is a multicultural country with different races. Films mainly focus on white people and increasingly on african-americans. China is comprised of 50+ethnic groups which are all Asian-looking. The exception are the Uighurs who appear more white.

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