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Martial arts star Donnie Yen sues production company who claim prima donna behaviour caused film’s box office failure

Coconuts logo Coconuts 16/11/2018 Coconuts Hong Kong
a man holding a sign

Donnie Yen, kung fu superstar, can fight, no doubt about it.

😎 © Fornito da Monrif Net SRL 😎

But now he’s got to battle for his honor in a Chinese courtroom using the ancient, mythical power of legal reasoning.

The popular Hong Kong martial artist and actor — star of the Ip Man franchise — is suing the production company behind his recent film Iceman: The Time Traveler, he announced on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Released earlier this month, the movie, like a bad guy after receiving a fast flurry of Yen punches, flopped hard, a tanking the film company blamed on the actor, who they claimed acted like a prima donna on the set

Among their gripes, detailed in posts on the film’s official Weibo account in recent weeks, they claimed Yen changed lines and choreography, wouldn’t retake scenes and refused to wear a wig because it interfered with his acting, according to Ming Pao.

Because, sure, the difference between a movie described by a reviewer at the SCMP as an incoherent “insult to the paying public” and a critically-acclaimed film for the ages is usually a wig.

a man wearing a hat: A picture Donnie Yen posted on his Weibo account along with his response to the film company’s claims. © Provided by Coconuts Media Limited A picture Donnie Yen posted on his Weibo account along with his response to the film company’s claims.

According to Apple Daily, the filmmakers also charged that Yen interfered with directors instructions and casting choices, reduced his costars’ screen time so that they wouldn’t steal the spotlight, edited out other actor’s scenes during post-production, and refused to take part in the movie’s promotional campaign.

Yen contests the claims, and has lodged legal action, adding any damages received would be donated to charity (aw, altruistic, just like Ip Man).

Writing in a lengthy statement on his Weibo account, he accused the production company involved of “maliciously smearing”  him in an effort whip up a controversy so that people will watch the film.

Responding to the accusation of altering his lines, Yen said: “Since the movie was dubbed in Mandarin and the production crew was dissatisfied with the lines, why didn’t you dub it with your preferred lines?”

He went on to add that he wasn’t involved with the voice-dubbing process.

He also rejected the accusation that he refused to take part in publicity for the film, stating that he was currently filming Mulan in New Zealand and couldn’t take part in promotional events without advance notice.

Indeed, this video that was posted on the Instagram page of Malaysian cinema chain Golden Screen Movies shows he was doing his part.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by GSC Movies (@gscmovies) on Nov 4, 2018 at 12:00am PDT

“This film was filmed five years ago, and is only being released now. Why do you only choose to spell out your complaints at the same time poor reviews are out? Will deliberately slandering an actor’s reputation increase the film’s reception or box office results?”

He then concluded his statement with the following: “From now on, I can only select professional teams to work with, and release high-quality projects without disappointing my fans and my passion for film.”

An associated legal letter circulated online, called the allegations about Yen’s conduct “false and confusing.”

It said they caused “incalculable loss to Donnie Yen” and added “his family, partners, and fans are also upset and troubled by the allegations” and noted legal proceedings had been initiated.

Given the reviews, it might take more than the spat to convince people to change their minds on the flick, which one critic on Douban — the Chinese version of IMDB, where 79 percent of users gave the film one star — called “the worst ever film released in China.”

So, what’s it all about? Well, Iceman: The Time Traveler is the sequel to the 2014 film Iceman, which also received bad reviews.

It sees Yen reprise his role as a general from China’s Ming dynasty who is granted a time-travelling device by a monk.

In the 2014 film, Yen is framed by his power-hungry blood brothers as a traitor of the state. His village is then pillaged, and all the principal characters are frozen under the snow during an avalanche. They all wake up in present-day Hong Kong.

In the sequel, Yen’s character is blackmailed by another character into taking them back to the Ming dynasty so that he can take over the kingdom.

Yen — ever the noble, good guy — is intent on changing history so that his village is saved.

Anyways, here’s the trailer. Enjoy.

Replay Video

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