Hong Kong actor Donnie Yen places his hands in cement during a ceremony in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California, U.S., Nov. 30, 2016. [Photo / China.org.cn]

Chinese Kung fu star Donnie Yen left his hand and footprints in cement at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre Wednesday, making him the third Chinese martial artist to receive the honor.

“Sometimes being an Asian actor is not easy. Unfortunately, for many years, Asian actors didn’t have the same, equal opportunities,” the 53-year-old Hong Kong star said at the ceremony, attended by his wife Cissy Wang, family members, and guests, as well as President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn and Walt Disney Studios President Alan Bergman. “But I think that things have been changing. And I certainly would like to be one actor that sets a good example.”

Born in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, Yen came to Hong Kong — where he lives now — at the age of two and later moved to the United States, growing up in Boston’s Chinatown.

When he became involved in gang violence in Boston aged 16, his anxious parents sent him to Beijing, where he spent two years training with the famed Beijing wushu team, studying with the same masters as Jet Li. Yen’s turning point came when the veteran film director and action choreographer Yuen Wo-ping discovered him and helped him break into movies as a new kung fu hero.

Overshadowed over the years by Jackie Chan and action stars, Yen has been gradually breaking into Hollywood since appearing in Guillermo del Toro’s “Blade II” in 2002.

In China, Yen is credited by many for contributing to the popularization of the traditional martial arts style Wing Chun. He played Wing Chun grandmaster Yip Man, Bruce Lee’s teacher, in his most famous works — “Ip Man” trilogy, which was a big box office success receiving critical acclaim.

Yen was the third Chinese kung fu star to leave his hand and footprints at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre, following iconic Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. The TCL Chinese Theatre has over 200 handprints, footprints and autographs since 1920.

“I hope this ceremony, this achievement, will inspire many Chinese actors — not just Chinese actors, but many young actors — that they, too, can achieve the same dream if they put enough hard work into it,” he said.

“The force is with me and the force is with everybody.”

Yen stars in the much-anticipated “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which will show on Dec. 16. He plays a blind warrior monk who is part of a heroic squad of rebels that steals plans for the Death Star. The other heavyweight Chinese star in the film is actor-and-director Jiang Wen.

He also stars opposite Vin Diesel in “xXx: Return of Xander Cage,” which hits theaters on Jan. 20, 2017.

-China.org.cn

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