Donnie Yen Oscars Controversy Explained

Donnie Yen Oscars Controversy Explained
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Some activists demand that the John Wick star be booted from the Oscars ceremony.

Donnie Yen, a Hong Kong action superstar, is well known to Western audiences.

With many big screen appearances over the years, ranging from Blade 2 (2002) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) to the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023), he is best known for his portrayal of Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man in the Ip Man film series.

However, a recent controversy regarding the actor's political views threatens to tarnish his reputation. Back in Hong Kong, his rise to global fame has sparked a backlash from pro-democracy activists.

They accuse him of being tied to the Chinese Communist Party and have launched an online petition calling on the Oscars to drop Yen as a presenter at the 95th Academy Awards, which has gathered nearly 60,000 signatures.

"He's made it clear he wants to use films as a medium to tell positive stories of China and Hong Kong," Henry Tong, a Taiwan-based democracy advocate from Hong Kong who started the petition, said in an interview to VICE.

While Yen, who has always been supportive of the Chinese government, is free to pursue his career abroad, Hong Kong filmmakers are stifled by a new censorship law that prohibits the screening of films that could "endanger national security."

However, even Yen's support for the CCP not guarantee that John Wick 4 will be approved for release in China.

After star Keanu Reeves attended a Tibet-related concert held by a non-profit organization under the Dalai Lama last March, Chinese streaming platforms pulled all movies starring the actor, including the John Wick franchise.

Despite their concern over this latest revelation, many of the actor's fans in the West claim that it is virtually impossible to be a public figure in China without any ties to the CCP.

The Oscars ceremony will take place on March 12 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is scheduled for release on March 24.