Donnie Yen on Monkey King, action in 3D, and Ip Man 3D


[For the month of July, we will be covering the New York Asian Film Festival and the (also New York-based) Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF coverage, head over here. For Japan Cuts, here.]

Over the weekend we got a chance to sit down with Donnie Yen, who’s in town for the New York Asian Film Festival. (This is Yen’s first appearance at a North American film festival.) Tonight he’ll receive the Star Asia Award prior to a screening of Dragon (Wu Xia), which will be released in the United States later this year or early next year. We’ll have a review of the film tomorrow morning.

The topic of shooting action in 3D came up, and Yen talked a little about his experience on The Monkey King, the fantasy epic he just finished that was shot in IMAX 3D. It’s the first part of a trilogy that also stars Chow Yun-Fat and Aaron Kwok. Yen also touched on the current status of Ip Man 3D.

Yen talked more about Monkey King with us, including the challenges of working with prosthetic make-up and acting like a monkey. We’ll have that and more in our full interview with Donnie Yen later this week. Check out Yen’s comments on 3D after the cut.

You mentioned shooting in 3D. I was wondering if you thought about how your action direction would be affected by 3D.

You know, I shot Monkey King — I finished Monkey King. We shot in 3D. There are a lot of restrictions shooting action, or movies themselves, in 3D because the camera is so humongous. Certain angles you can’t really– Because in action you want to have many possibilities with the angles, right? But with 3D, for example, you can’t place the camera flat on the ground, so you can’t shoot a person [from a low angle]. So if I want to shoot a low angle of a person, I have to set up a platform for the actor to stand on. So Chow Yun-Fat would jut be standing on top of a platform if I’m going to get a shot like this. Something like that. And the cameras are very heavy, so if you want to do a dead stop or fast cuts like The Bourne Identity [laughs], you know, kinda wild, it’s very difficult.


But you have to understand what you’re working with. I learned a lot doing Monkey King. We had a wonderful team. We hired 30 people from the Avatar team, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Really experienced experts coming [to the production], and we did that together. I learned a lot and yes, I certainly will explore doing 3D martial arts and kung-fu movies. We’re talking about Ip Man 3D!


They’re talking about it, but we’re in the stage of finding out what it needs, you know? Budget, etc. Wilson Yip, our director, is exploring that possibility.

[Dragon (Wu Xia) will be screening at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater tonight at 7:45 PM. Donnie Yen will be in attendance. Tickets are sold out, but you can visit the box office to check for standby tickets/additional availability.]

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.