While promoting Bodyguards and Assassins in Shanghai on December 9, producers Peter Chan and Yu Dong gave their thanks to Donnie Yen for helping the film wrap up successfully, returning to the set after filming had ended to re-enact a fight scene without taking extra pay. They also presented Donnie Yen with a film print of the parkour fight scene, that Donnie Yen, working with Cung Le and his longstanding team of 17 stuntmen, choreographed.
A portion of the 10 minutes fight scene between Cung Le and Donnie Yen was shown, opening with confusing camerawork and editing which thankfully stablised in no time as it transitioned to a heart-stopping parkour chase, before segueing into a full-blown MMA-inspired martial arts sequence crisply delivered by both, while, for those growing weary of seeing Donnie Yen doing MMA yet again, other styles could be seen implemented in the making-of videos (A, B, C).
Donnie Yen was hesitant about this role initially, pondering over it for weeks, of whether he could handle such a demanding role, which was very different from his previous film Ip Man, of whether it might backfire instead. “I was eventually convinced by Peter Chan, for I should believe in Peter Chan, as well as in myself. Actually, I was given more than one choice, but I chose the down-and-out gambler eventually, and went all out to fulfill this role in terms of drama and action.”
Peter Chan praises Donnie Yen unstintingly, “This scene is very representation of precision, speed and effectiveness. Being both the actor and martial arts director, Donnie Yen would be prone to hogging the limelight, yet from the finished cut, he was shooting mainly Cung Le, from our professional standpoint, this is very exceptional.”
Donnie Yen elaborates on his duel with Cung Le, “I will never repeat myself, when shooting this scene, I was thinking parkour is a very popular sport, and while it was shown in a James Bond film, it wasn’t done particularly well. I told Peter Chan, we’ve made built such a gargantuan set, spent so much money, why not shoot a graceful parkour fight scene?”
And so, they spent 8 days on the scene, creating what Peter Chan describes as his most ideal fight. Donnie Yen even worked non-stop for 26 hours, setting the record for the longest shoot on Bodyguards and Assassins. On his 84kg MMA champion opponent, Donnie Yen says, “It’s like fighting a bull. Cung Le is the strongest opponent I have ever encountered in shooting action scenes, and because of his excellent martial arts skills and weight, I have to be extra careful.”
Just a day before shooting this scene, Donnie Yen’s grandmother, who was living in US, passed away. He couldn’t sleep well, and his heart was very heavy, and he became quick-tempered. He was not able to attend her funeral, as he had already given his word, and to make matter worse, he had a relapse of waist injury, which made the parkour chase scene particularly a struggle to him.
Donnie Yen was recently listed as the highest paid Chinese actor this year, earning 12m yuan per film. Upon being asked about his pay, Donnie Yen smiles, “Sometimes, I get more, sometimes, lesser. Just like property, there is rise and fall. Today I get this amount, but the next day, I might get something completely different.
And it’s only been announced recently that Dr Sun Yat Sen is played by Mainland award-winning actor Zhang Han Yu. Apparently, they couldn’t come to a decision on picking which of the four actors they cast and filmed for the role until then. Yangtse Evening News, Sina