Donnie Yen Borrowed Money from Loan Sharks

The second season of Luisa Maria Leitao’s (黎芷珊) popular talk show Telling Maria <最佳男主角> premiered on April 13, featuring Donnie Yen (甄子丹) as the first guest. Appearing in two episodes, Donnie spoke about his rise to prominence as one of Asia’s greatest action stars, discussing the struggles and pain he had to endure in the last thirty years. He also shared some of his own childhood photos, and revealed how he met his sifu, award-winning martial arts choreographer and director Yuen Woo Ping (袁和平).

Discovered by Yuen Woo Ping in the 1980s, Donnie worked as the director’s stuntman for a few years before earning his first starring role in Yuen Woo Ping’s Drunken Tai Chi <笑太極>, released in 1984. Following many years of success in both film and television, Donnie decided to start his own production company Bullet Films in 1996, but  faced financial difficulties as a result.

The 51-year-old said he hit a financial slump while shooting his directorial debut Legend of the Wolf <戰狼傳說>, which was filmed shortly before the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Donnie did not have enough money to pay for daily necessities and had to borrow from loan sharks. He could not afford food and had to ask the production company to spare him an extra meal.

The hardworking Donnie has been shooting films nonstop in the past three decades. Having accumulated many injuries over the years, Donnie said his body is now wasting away. “My spine feels like it’s now pretty much shattered. I have 100 times more injuries than even Nicholas Tse (謝霆鋒), and I almost blinded myself in four occasions.”

Donnie is currently filming Ip Man 3 <葉問3> and will be filming for the Hollywood film Noodle Man this summer.

This article is written by Addy for

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  1. Nice trivia. Going through struggles but any means necessary.

    Few corrections though. Yen was discovered in the early 1980s, and NOODLE MAN doesn’t start shooting until July this year. Yen took more than half a year hiatus before IP MAN 3.

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