Donnie Yen in Star Wars spin-off trailer

Donnie Yen in the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Donnie Yen in the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. PHOTO: YOUTUBE

LOS ANGELES • Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen are seen in the first trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney's first spin-off movie from the Star Wars universe, released on Thursday.

Gongfu star Yen appears towards the end, wielding a stick to fight a stormtrooper holding a gun. Chinese star Jiang runs in an explosion scene, wearing an armour and carrying a weapon.

The 100-second teaser led to frenzied speculation over the similarity between female lead Felicity Jones, who plays the titular rogue, and The Force Awakens' heroine Rey, portrayed by Daisy Ridley.

People have been trying to work out Rey's place in the Star Wars family tree since December - with fans speculating that she could be Luke Skywalker's daughter or Obi-Wan Kenobi's granddaughter - but many took to Twitter to claim Jones' character Jyn Erso could be her mother.

"For dudes concerned abt keeping Rey & Jyn straight in your minds, use whatever flashcards/ mnemonic devices that helped you figure Luke & Han," LucasFilm creative Paul Hidalgo advised in a sardonic tweet.

Others debated whether a scene from the trailer showed a station on the London Underground's Jubilee Line, while many welcomed the appearance of strong female leads in two consecutive Star Wars films.

Philadelphia-based film writer Scott Weinberg observed that "you could count the important women in the first six Star Wars movies on one hand - nice to see the pendulum swing the other way now."

Rebecca Keegan, a film critic for the Los Angeles Times, pointed out that the trailer even passed the "Bechdel test" - which asks if two female characters in any given film have a conversation about something other than a man.

The first standalone Star Wars story, Rogue One is set just before A New Hope (1977) - the original film in the blockbuster series - and stars Jones alongside Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed, in a distinctly indie-flavoured cast.

Jones, 32, plays rebel Jyn Erso, who has been on her own since the age of 15 and has notched up a string of convictions including forgery, assault and theft.

She is sent on a mission to help investigate "a major weapons test" - better known as the Death Star in development - and find out how to destroy it.

The trailer also features a fan favourite - the Empire's AT-AT military vehicles - and a retread of John Williams' familiar Star Wars score.

The music includes a snippet of the infamous Imperial March, used to signify the approach of Darth Vader - perhaps a hint that cinema's ultimate villain will make an appearance in Rogue One, for release on Dec 16.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline 'Donnie Yen in Star Wars spin-off trailer'. Print Edition | Subscribe