Donnie Yen, who's joined John Wick: Chapter 4's cast, knows how to bring it in action and martial arts films. His skills as a martial arts performer have made him one of cinema’s top action stars, so going against former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in a fight scene should’ve been easy for him. But according to the John Wick 4 actor, that wasn’t the case. Yen revealed how terrified he was shooting one fight scene with Tyson.
Mike Tyson cameoed in the third installment of the Ip Man film series. The retired boxer served as an opponent for Donnie Yen in the epic biographical drama. The John Wick 4 star felt the scene could’ve gone wrong considering Tyson isn’t an actor. Yen said the following about his fanboying over the former heavyweight champion turning to fear:
I am a fan who watched his boxing matches until 4 or 5 am on TV in Hong Kong when I was a child. I was worried that he might not hold back in using force as he is not an actor. I had to be very cautious. I saw it as a life-and-death boxing match. Just a little carelessness and it could be fatal.
Given Mike Tyson’s reputation in the ring, Donnie Yen was right to be fearful of Tyson’s hands. While Yen is a martial artist legend, the former heavyweight doesn’t have an on-off switch when it comes to knocking out opponents. But the Rogue One star shouldn’t have been too afraid, as Tyson proved he can tone things down in the first two Hangover films. Then again, boxing Tyson and comedic Tyson are complete opposites.
But filming the actual Ip Man 3 scene was another experience. Donnie Yen remembered the boxing legend’s fist almost connecting in the fight scene, according to South China Morning Post. He said about avoiding Mike Tyson’s lethal punch:
In that scene, I had to duck my head when it came so near to my head that it touched my hair. I had to duck my head at the last moment so his fist missed me and landed on the sandbag next to me which flew out on impact. He had to use a lot of force to throw the punch. When his punch came, I felt like a big truck was rushing towards me. I can still remember the sense of danger now.
Donnie Yen’s description of the moment would have anyone going through the motions. Thankfully, he was able to react quickly before Mike Tyson could’ve knocked him out or worse. Having grown up watching Tyson in the boxing ring, his punches were damaging and his reach was otherworldly. So, missing Yen’s head (barely) and destroying a sandbag was just a small taste of his legendary skills.
Mike Tyson had no chill when it comes to boxing, so it’s nice that Donnie Yen can still tell that story. Given Yen’s growing presence in American film, the two might be due for a rematch (or not) in the Tyson miniseries. But Yen’s legendary skills will be on display as he now that he's part of John Wick: Chapter 4, which arrives in theaters on May 27, 2022.