Top Chinese action star Donnie Yen is slated to star in Golden Empire, a crime thriller in which he will play the lead role as an infamous Chinese-Mexican drug kingpin whose name climbs to the top of both the U.S. and Mexico’s most wanted list. Deadline had the exclusive for the news.
In addition to starring, Yen will also produce the film along with Peter Luo, CEO at Starlight Media, which is lead financing alongside SA Inc.
“The talents of Donnie are undeniable and will be utilized in every imaginable way to bring this epic story to life,” said Luo. “Spanning the continents of Asia, North America and South America, Golden Empire is really the first major narco film with an Asian lead that plays to global audiences. Showcasing diversity in cinema, while retaining authenticity, has always been a primary focus of ours, and this unique and fascinating story is representative of our mandate.”
Golden Empire will display the inner turmoil of one of the world’s most successful multinational drug lords, exploring the complexities of Yen’s character while doing so. The thriller will be filmed in the English-language and will be primarily shot in the U.S.
Among his impressive repertoire, Yen has experience for this specific upcoming role from his previous role in the 2017 movie Chasing The Dragon, where he played a real-life gangster and drug kingpin. It was this performance, Luo said, that convinced him that Yen was the only candidate to star as the lead in Golden Empire.
This is not Luo’s first time working with Starlight, with previous credits including backing Crazy Rich Asians, Midway and Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. He is also teaming up again with Yen and Donna Gigliotti on a documentary feature, Wuhan! Wuhan!, detailing the Chinese city that was at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Last year, Yen reprised his role in the widely popular and successful Ip Man franchise’s fourth and final film, Ip Man 4: The Finale. In the American feature world, his credits include Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and xXx: Return of Xander Cage starring Vin Diesel. Most recently, Yen starred in the highly awaited live action Disney pic Mulan which has been plagued with delays in release due to the coronavirus pandemic. As of now, it is set to finally appear in theaters in August.