Donnie Yen has over 35 years of experience in the martial arts film genre with a fruitful career behind him. It's his best movie, ranked!
With more than 35 years of martial arts film experience and mastery of multiple martial arts styles, Donnie Yen is already a legend. Old and new, the best Donnie Yen films showcase the actor's incredible fighting prowess and his equally captivating qualities as a theatrical performer.
Updated by Jordan Iacobucci on 7 January 2023: Donnie Yen's career will only continue to grow, especially after his iconic Hollywood franchise with John Wick: Chapter 4 hits theaters in March 2023. Fans of Donnie Yen patiently awaiting his arrival in highly anticipated films can also look back at some of the best films of his career so far based on IMDb's rating system.
Legend Of The Fist: The Return Of Chen Zhen (2010) - 6.2
Stream On Netflix And Peacock
Every Chinese martial arts actor wants to play the legendary character Chen Zhen in one of the series' many renditions. After all, it is also an honor to play the champion of the Jingwu Sports Association. Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Donnie Yen all have the opportunity to play Chen Zhen, with Donnie Yen being the latest hero to be portrayed so far.
Donnie Yen played the iconic martial arts hero twice, in The Fist of Fury TV series in 1995 and later the 2010 film The King of Fighters: The Return of Chen Zhen. The latter proved to be a mixed bag, with some signature traits of the characters and story resonating with fans, while others felt it was just a hodgepodge of martial arts moments with little in the way of story or character development.
Chasing The Dragon (2017) - 6.7
Stream On Fubo TV
Chasing the Dragon is a 2017 action film starring Donnie Yen as the fictional Hong Kong gangster Ho. The film is part of Andy Lau's Rock and Roll series, and is also a remake of the similar Hong Kong film "Be the First" from 1991.
While Yan is known for his heroic roles, it's also fun to see the beloved actor take on more villainous roles, as he did in Chasing the Dragon. The film itself has its problems, but Yen's portrayal of a complicated man on the edge of a life of crime is certainly disappointing.
Flashpoint (2007) - 6.7
Stream On Peacock
In the 2007 film Flashpoint, Donnie Yen played Ma Jun, a police sergeant formerly serving on Hong Kong Island was sent back to China for safekeeping. He and his partner work to take down a Vietnamese gang that is ravaging their territory.
Donnie Yen not only starred in the film, but also choreographed the fight scenes, adding an extra layer of realism to the action. Flashpoint may fall short of some of the actor's greatest accomplishments, but it's hard to deny the visceral realism of some of these fight scenes, thanks in no small part to Yen's efforts.
Blade II (2002) - 6.7
Stream On Hulu
Blade II is the sequel to the 1998 hit film, starring Wesley Snipes as the titular Vampire Hunter. Donnie Yen joins the cast of the much-anticipated second installment in the series, playing the relatively minor character Yeti, a member of Dieter Rienhardt's "Bloodpack."
While Blade 2 was far from a perfect movie, it and its predecessor largely kickstarted the superhero movie craze of the early 2000s and beyond. In hindsight, the 2002 sequel could only be improved by expanding Donnie Yen's role, though his work on the film mostly consisted of providing fight choreography. The film also served as one of Donnie Yen's first Hollywood projects, He worked on several critically acclaimed American films The Doors.
The Last Conflict (1988) - 6.8
The Last Conflict is a 1988 television movie and another action crime thriller from director Raymond Lee. "The Last Conflict" starring Donnie Yen, Stephen Chow, Chen Yadi, Wu Zhenyu, Liu Jiang and Chen Dehua tells the story of several policemen who were called to investigate forgery cases. The story deals with love, friendship, rejection and revenge.
The film aired on TVB and is one of Donnie Yen's most action-packed films. It may not be based on Call of Duty or Tiger Cage, but its fans are sure to be pleased with the action it offers, giving them a little more insight into Donnie Yen's early years in the film industry.
Bodyguards And Assassins (2009) - 6.8
Stream On The Roku Channel
In typical action-movie style with actual historical events, The Bodyguard and the Assassin depicts the beginning of Hong Kong's revolution against the Qing Empire to become its own independent country. In addition to Donnie Yen, the film also invited many big-name actors such as Liang Jiahui, Nicholas Tse, and Fan Bingbing.
In this 2009 historical action film, Donnie Yen plays the protagonist Chong Yang, a down-and-out gambler. Find redemption in the revolutionaries. The film won numerous awards in Hong Kong, although Donnie Yen himself did not. Still, he did manage to make an impact with audiences, even if the awards show ended up downplaying his performance.
Tiger Cage II (1990) - 6.9
Rent On Amazon
Long before Donnie Yen found himself at the heart of the Star Wars franchise, he starred in the 1990 Hong Kong martial arts film Tiger Cage 2 directed by world-renowned director Yuen Wo Ping. It's a searing action spectacle that revolves around Yen playing an ex-cop who finds himself involved in a wrongful robbery.
In this film, Donnie Yen worked with fellow martial arts alumnus Shou Robin for five years before he played Liu Kang in the 1995 Mortal Kombat live-action film. The duo played well and marked one of the best behind-the-scenes teams the martial arts genre has ever seen.
Wing Chun (1994) - 7.0
Rent On Amazon
One of Donnie Yen's earliest works was Wing Chun, a 1994 action film starring Michelle Yeoh as Wing Chun Ren, one of the main founders of the Wing Chun kung fu fighting style. When her village is attacked by criminals, she uses this brutal style of fighting to teach They teach them a lesson, but they end up in more trouble than she expected.
Donnie Yen has revisited the concept of Wing Chun several times throughout his film career, most notably when he played Ip Man, the master responsible for spreading the martial art around the world. To this day, it remains one of the most effective forms of Kung Fu ever created.
Dragon (2011) - 7.0
Stream On The Roku Channel
Shenlong is a 2012 martial arts film that infuses a lot of detective noir elements into a complex and compelling storyline. Donnie Yen plays a reluctant artisan who saves two shopkeepers from a gangster pair, only to attract all sorts of unwanted attention.
Soon, a detective investigates the incident and sets his sights on Yan's character, Liu Jinxi, who he believes may be connected to a more sinister history. The fight scenes and cinematography are top notch, and the combination of story elements makes it an enjoyable 1 hour 40 minute romp.
SPL: Kill Zone (2005) - 7.0
Stream On Tubi And PLEX
Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung collaborated in 2010's Ip Man 2, but this was not their first collaboration. Their first partnership appeared in the 2005 action film SPL: Kill Zone, starring Yen as Ma Qun, a Hong Kong police officer with a dark past, becomes embroiled in a deadly game of revenge between vicious gangsters and the police who fail to take him down.
SPL: Kill Zone is a dark story with a tragic ending that sings the truth about the evil nature of revenge and how it can cost one man everything. Plus, Yan and Hong's on-screen duo will indeed prove lucrative as they'll be working together again for years to come.
Ip Man 3 (2015) - 7.0
Stream On Netflix And Peacock
The third installment in the Ip Man series continues the eponymous martial arts legend of Donnie Yen, who begins training future action star Bruce Lee. In the film, Ip Man must take on a rival martial artist who wants to replace him as the reigning champion of the Wing Chun fighting style.
Ip Man 3 may be the lowest-rated entry in the series, but it is still one of Donnie Yen's greatest films of all time. He proves once again why he's the perfect martial artist to shape the legend while maintaining his status as one of the world's leading action stars.
Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019) - 7.0
Stream On Netflix
Donnie Yen His iconic series of martial arts biopics about the life of famed Wing Chun practitioner and teacher Ip Man concluded in 2019. The series was a hit when it moved to the United States in the 1960s.
The film not only follows Ip Man's struggles to build a relationship with his son after the tragic death of his wife, but also follows Ip Man's death after being diagnosed with cancer. Ip Man bravely battled the disease and the inherent anti-Asian racism of the era, uniting people in stunning ways, no matter their racial background.
In The Line Of Duty IV: Witness (1989) - 7.1
Stream On Fubo TV
This 1989 action film, a loose sequel to the "Call of Duty" franchise, follows police officers from the United States and Hong Kong teaming up to take down two dirty cops in Seattle, Washington.
In Call of Duty IV: Witnesses, Donnie Yen plays the aptly named Captain Donnie Yen, who spearheads a campaign to root out corrupt cops from the system. As one of Donnie Yen's early films, it does an excellent job of portraying his martial arts skills, leading him to more and more roles in the future to continue his world-class career.
Dragon Inn (1992) - 7.2
Rent On Apple TV
Released in Asia as New Dragon Inn, a remake of the 1967 martial arts classic Dragon Inn. Produced by Tsui Hark, directed by Li Feng. It stars Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Maggie Cheung and Donnie Yen.
The film is set in the desert of the Ming Dynasty, and Donnie Yen plays the vicious prefect. When some of his cabinet members conspired against him, he executed them and exiled their children to lure others away. The film, which has been highly praised among Donnie Yen's other projects, shows a ruthless side to the actor, which is far more ruthless than his fans have seen. It will no doubt be a role he looks back on as Kane in the upcoming John Wick film.
Once Upon a Time In China II (1992) - 7.3
Stream On Prime Video
Once Upon a Time 2 is one of the few films that may have lost Donnie Yen some fans due to his ruthless character in it. Yan plays Lin, a Chinese general on a mission to wipe out all revolutionaries in the country. He starred opposite Jet Li, who played the folk hero of Chinese martial arts, Huang Feihong.
The story takes place at a time when some people want to liberate China from imperial rule. The movie includes fight scenes between Lee and Yan, so definitely makes the most of their pairing. The on-screen combination of these two martial arts icons is enough to make any fan of the genre watch this fantastic film.
Iron Monkey (1993) - 7.5
Stream On Pluto TV
One of Yuan Heping's martial arts film masterclasses, Iron Monkey, stars Donnie Yen as Chinese martial arts folk hero Wong Kei-ying, who plays "Chinese Robin Hood" who steals from corrupt governments and gives profits to lesser ones.
Iron Monkey was popular in both Hong Kong and the United States, heralding Donnie Yen's future roles in major films in both regions. It remains the actor's highest-grossing film of his early career, helping him become a rising talent.
Ip Man 2 (2010) - 7.5
Stream On Netflix
Ip Man 2 expands on Donnie Yen's titular character, portraying the iconic martial artist's real-life behavior. The film also stars the late and distinguished martial artist Darren Shahlavi, who plays a British boxer who harasses Chinese martial artists.
At the time of the events of the film, Ye Man and the Huaxia Martial Arts Association were not in the same camp, which led to a lot of fighting between the two sides. Well-versed in a variety of different fighting styles, Donnie Yen learned boxing for the role, adding to his versatility as an action star.
Rogue One: A Star War Story (2016) - 7.8
Stream On Disney+
In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Donnie Yen plays Chirrut Imwe, a martial arts master and monk who believes in the Force, even though he is not. Imwe and his partner Baze Malbus became embroiled in the Rebels' battle to steal the coveted plans for the Death Star, though they were eventually killed along with the rest of the crew in Rogue One's tragic end.
"Rogue One" is undoubtedly Donnie Yen's biggest film, making a worldwide box office debut and earning a tidy profit as a result. While Yan isn't usually involved in major franchises like Star Wars, his presence as Chirrut gave the film even more notoriety, and he proved to be one of the best characters in it.
Hero (2002) - 7.9
Stream On Hoopla
Many fans of martial arts films must have admired Zhang Yimou's prowess in creating one of China's greatest modern classics. Not only did he create a Sly and creative in the 2002 hero movie, but he also combined many of the greatest martial arts stars of all time.
In "Heroes", Donnie Yen and Jet Li stage one of the most exciting fight scenes in the history of martial arts movies. The idea of Jet Li's Unknown Warrior challenging Donnie Yen excited fans everywhere, especially in Asian markets, where the film broke many records upon release.
Ip Man (2008) - 8.0
Stream On Netflix And Peacock
Donnie Yen returned to the spotlight with the Ip Man series, proving he had more to offer after his performance in the hit film Hero. Ip Man's first feature brings famed Wing Chun (a Chinese martial art) master Ip Man to the screen for the first time.
During his long and storied martial arts career, Donnie Yen achieved his greatest success as Ip Man. The franchise itself is his most famous ongoing performance to date, as he brings skill and charisma to the role. He would go on to play the martial arts icon in three more films, crafting a role that will likely define his entire career.