Even giving it action credit, The Expendables wasn’t the men on a mission movie that it could have been. It became the Stallone/Statham show with not nearly enough regard for a talented cast of former steroid users. The sequel could remedy that situation, but it also has to jump the hurdle of, you know, being an action sequel.
Fortunately, the good folks over at Twitch are reporting that Donnie Yen – the badass of Ip Man and many more – has been offered a role in The Expendables 2. While this is great news for that particular cast, Yen shouldn’t take the job.
Because he’s a leading man who would be playing second fiddle here – character and action-wise. He’d be given one cool fight scene and be overshadowed for the rest of the run time (even if that one fight scene proves he’s more talented at close combat than anyone else on that roster). Undoubtedly, the pitch here from producer Avi Lerner is a role that would launch Yen into the minds of American audiences. While that may be enticing, it also comes with the possibility of following in Jackie Chan’s footsteps. Chan is a phenom, but his career in the United States morphed so badly into mainstream meaninglessness that he started turning back to China to make the bulk of his movies.
It all seems Lose Lose for Yen. If he takes the role, he’ll be a minor part of an action sequel where a bunch of other names will take up the run time. If the best case scenario of him getting more US exposure and work comes to pass, is there any chance it will be for sharp films as good as the Ip Man series? Yen isn’t just a fighter to be thrown into a scene. He’s a brilliant fight choreographer that outdoes almost everyone working today.
As a fan, I’d rather see the 2-3 Yen movies that hit festivals and VOD every year than roll my eyes at the grand Hollywood success of seeing his name announced for The Tuxedo 2 in 2014. He should appreciate the sentiment, but punch right through this offer and onto the next project.