Donnie Yen wins defamation case against movie company

Action star Donnie Yen was accused of prima donna behaviour during the making of Iceman: The Time Traveller.
Action star Donnie Yen was accused of prima donna behaviour during the making of Iceman: The Time Traveller.PHOTO: DONNIEYENOFFICIAL/INSTAGRAM

Don't mess with Donnie Yen.

The Hong Kong action star has successfully fought back against a Chinese movie company that had accused him of prima donna behaviour during the making of a movie.

Last Wednesday, the Shaanxi-based West Movie Group posted an apology online, after the 57-year-old actor won a lawsuit against the company for defamation.

The case arose over the performance of the company's movie Iceman: The Time Traveller, which starred Yen, Wang Baoqiang, Eva Huang and Simon Yam, and opened in November 2018. It was panned and did badly at the box office.

In a social media post soon after, the company blamed Yen for the movie's failure, claiming that he had changed his lines arbitrarily, amended what the film's action choreographer had proposed and refused to take part in promotional activities.

However, the post on the movie's official Weibo account was deleted just a few hours after it was uploaded.

Yen, known for the Ip Man martial-arts movies (2008 to 2019), defended himself in a 2,000-word post and called the accusations "baseless" and "malicious slander".

He asked if the producers were trying to shift the blame to the actors after the movie's dismal performance.

"Why was a sequel to a movie filmed five years ago released only now? The reason should be very clear to the movie producer," he said.

Yen's agency followed up by suing West Movie Group for defamation.

After nearly two years, the actor has finally won his case.

The movie company was ordered to post an apology letter on its two official Weibo accounts before last Friday, which would have to remain online for 30 consecutive days - failing which it would have to pay Yen 500,000 yuan (S$101,400).

Yen's agency said last Friday that the actor and his team respect the court judgment, though the apology cannot make up for the damage to Yen's reputation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2020, with the headline 'Donnie Yen wins defamation case against movie company'. Print Edition | Subscribe