I'm finally a 'cool dad' after Star Wars role, Donnie Yen tells fans on Reddit

Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen (right) and his wife, Cecilia Wang (extreme left) and their children at Resorts World Sentosa on Jan 15, 2016.
PHOTO: Shaw Organisation

Action star Donnie Yen is finally a 'cool dad' to his daughter and son, after landing a leading role in Rogue One, a Star Wars spin-off.

In response to a question on whether he's a "cool dad" on a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Saturday, the man best known for playing gongfu master Ip Man said: "I'm now considered a cool dad, thanks to Rogue One (even though I've always thought I was cool to them ;))"

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first spin-off in the sci-fi franchise and is expected to be released this year.

The AMA was timed to coincide with the release of Yen's latest film, Ip Man 3, in American theatres on Friday (Jan 22). The film also stars former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.

But there were few questions about the new movie from his fans, except for one about how Yen "broke Tyson's finger" during filming.

Yen, 53, replied: "That was an accident! I think it was an elbow strike. You'll see some of that in the film."

The gongfu star also spoke about his mother, well-known martial arts master Bow-sim Mark, who trained him since young.

When asked if she was harder on him than other students, Yen wrote: "She was EXTREMELY hard on me, I remember her pulling me out of bed at 5.30am in the morning starting at the age of nine and training for an hour just before going to school. When I misbehaved and didn't train, she literally broke a couple of wooden swords over my skinny thighs (at the time)."

He also said that she was his mentor, and there would be "no Ip Man" without her.

"My mother is my mentor because she's not the normal 'mother' per se - she's a real grandmaster in martial arts. I was given the opportunity to have this family background in marital arts. Without her teaching, I would not have had those skills today and there would be no Ip Man."

The action star also revealed that the first Ip Man movie was one of the most gruelling for him.

He hinted that the "pinched nerves" could have accounted for criticism about his lack of acting chops.

He wrote: "Once, the whole side of my arm was pretty much paralysed from so many punches from all of the takes. I also lost a lot of weight in order to portray Ip Man, who was very slender. I was in a lot of pain during a lot of the shots and had to play it off with controlled facial expressions due to pinched nerves."

About his role in Rogue One, Yen said: "I think it's really flattering to be the first Chinese actor in the Star Wars universe and I have full confidence Rogue One will do extremely well, because the force is with me."

To Singapore movie goers though, Ip Man was cooler than Star Wars, going by box office figures.

Ip Man 3 was released in Singapore on Dec 24 last year, and it was the first Chinese movie in Singapore to cross the $5-million mark in 11 days, and beat Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the box office for two weekends after it opened.

This article was first published on Jan 23, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.