Donnie Yen Replaces Jet Li in
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Chinese actor and martial-arts star Donnie Yen has joined Vin Diesel’s action sequel “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage,” Revolution Studios has confirmed.

Jet Li is believed to have left the project. Diesel also confirmed that Yen has joined the cast with a post on his Facebook page.

“Donnie is one of the greatest martial-arts movie stars of our time,” said Diesel. “I am thrilled he will be joining the cast and can’t wait to work with him on some of the spectacular action sequences we have planned.”

The film, which is shooing in Toronto, with additional filming in the Dominican Republic, is being produced by Revolution Studios, Roth Kirschenbaum Films and Diesel’s One Race Film. Paramount announced Thursday that it will handle distribution.

D.J. Caruso (“I Am Number Four”) is directing from a script by Chad St. John, with current revisions by F. Scott Frazier.

Yen will play an alpha-warrior named Xiang in the sequel. He’ll be seen next in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny,” in which he stars opposite Michelle Yeoh.

Yen is best known in the U.S. for his role opposite Jet Li in director Zhang Yimou’s “Hero.” He co-starred with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in “Shanghai Knights” and in the title role of the Ip Man franchise along with “Dragon” and “The Monkey King” opposite Chow Yun-fat.

Diesel starred in the original 2002 “XXX,” directed by Rob Cohen, as underground sports star Xander Cage, who was blackmailed by the U.S. government to take down a gang of international terrorists. The film, released by Sony, performed well with $277 million worldwide.

Diesel was not part of the sequel, with Ice Cube playing the lead role in 2005’s “xXx: State of the Union,” which grossed $71 million worldwide for Sony. Lee Tamahori directed the second film.

Revolution Studios, founded by Joe Roth in 2000, produced both films. The company was acquired in 2014 by Fortress Investment Group.

The third film follows Diesel’s character as he comes out of self-imposed exile to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box.

Indian actress Deepika Padukone will play the female lead opposite Diesel, joining Ruby Rose and Nina Dobrev in the sequel. Samuel L. Jackson is returning to reprise his role.

The cast also includes Kris Wu, Tony Jaa (“Furious 7”), mixed martial-arts fighter Conor McGregor, Hermione Corfield (“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”) and Toni Collette.

 

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