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Donnie Yen to Star in ‘Kung Fu’ Movie for Universal

Kung Fu, the long-gestating adaptation of the 1970s TV show, is getting a jolt with actor Donnie Yen boarding the project to star. The well-known martial artist and star is in talks to lead the feature for Universal, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Frequent Universal collaborator David Leitch has been on the project since 2020, producing with Kelly McCormick via their Universal-based 87North Productions alongside Guy Danella. Stephen L’Heureux is producing via Solipsist Films. Leitch, who has Fall Guy due out this spring, is eying the director’s chair for Kung Fu, which has a script from Stephen Chin and counts Kung Fu TV creator Ed Spielman as an executive producer.

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Yen is a global star, known for his work spanning Hong Kong and Hollywood. He leads the Ip Man films, and was among the cast of the $1 billion grosser Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as well as Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan and John Wick: Chapter 4.

“Donnie Yen is both an immensely talented actor and an action film legend, and it is a privilege to have a true martial arts master leading this global film,” said Leitch. “With Donnie in place as our leading man, it will be a thrill to collaborate with him, our creative partners, and Universal in reimagining this beloved story for the big screen.”

The late David Carradine starred in the Kung Fu series, which aired on ABC from 1972-75. It followed Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin monk who traveled to the American West in search of his half brother. Among its cultural contributions was adding the phrase “young grasshopper” to the lexicon.

Yen is repped by Independent Artist Group and R&CPMK. Leitch is repped by CAA, Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole, and 42West. Chin is repped by Syndicate Entertainment.

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