‘Ip Man,’ ‘Rogue One’ star Donnie Yen lands lead role in ‘Sleeping Dogs’ movie

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A movie based on Sleeping Dogs, the cult-favorite open-world action game, is in the works, and now Donnie Yen, a martial artist and star of such fare as Ip Man and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, has been picked to star in it. His popularity in Eastern movie markets should help the film considerably, as Hollywood looks to expand its reach into international markets for ever greater revenue streams.

The original Sleeping Dogs game was developed by United Front Games and published by Square Enix. It follows the story of undercover cop, Wei Shen, as he infiltrates a Hong Kong cartel through legal and illegal means. It was incredibly well-received, and there was even an ambitious sequel in the works, but the developer abruptly closed down in 2016.

Fans of the original game who continue to hope for more from the property will no doubt be pleased by the news of the movie. Yen is also likely to be a popular choice, especially in his native China. He received prominent billing for the recent film xXx: Return of Xander Cage, and helped it to the second-biggest February debut in Imax theaters in the country, according to Deadline.

Yen also seems like a fine choice considering the original game’s heavy focus on martial arts combat. Although the game’s combat system was at least partly inspired by the moves and motions of MMA fighter George St. Pierre, Yen has a deep history of Wing Chung and practical fight experience. His Wikipedia page cites Hong Kong press discussing real-world fights where he took on as many as eight combatants.

Although he is a little more advanced in age than the character from the original Sleeping Dogs game, Yen has been cited as one of the fastest martial artists many choreographers and combat athletes have worked with.

The film is being produced by Neal Moritz, Dmitri Johnson, and Dan Jevons, with Tob Ascher and Stephan Bugaj executive producers. Moritz’s production company, Original Film, is producing the film.

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