In what has to be the best bit of casting news this week, martial arts superstar Donnie Yen has reportedly been cast in Star Wars VIII. Yen may not be a household name in America like fellow Hong Kong stars Jackie Chan and Jet Li, but his work in Ip Man, Hero, Blade II and Shanghai Knights should lend him some familiarity with stateside audiences.
If not, you should really seek out some of his work (along with the previously mentioned films, Iron Monkey and Flash Point are good ones) and see what you’ve been missing. His ten man fight scene in Ip Man is still a classic of modern martial arts cinema.
Yen’s inclusion in the franchise (along with members of the Raid being cast in Star Wars VII) is a refreshing bit of casting that demonstrates a clear attempt to include some stars of Asian cinema. It’s entirely possible that this is just an attempt to tap the growing Asian market and make the movie more marketable to an international audience, but either way, it’s nice to see some diverse stars in the franchise now with Yen, Iko Uwais, Lupita Nyong’o, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker and John Boyega hopefully poised to take large roles in their respective films.