Donnie is a Hong Kong film director, actor, producer and Chinese martial artist. She was born in China. When he was two years old, his family shifted to Hong Kong. At the age of 12 along with his family, he moved to the United States. His mother was a tai chi trainer and used to give training to him from the age of four. His father Kylster Yen was a newspaper editor. He used to practice tai chi but even took training in other martial arts styles like boxing, taekwondo, and kickboxing. He was sent to the best Chinese Martial Arts school- Beijing Wushu Academy. During his training, he developed self-confidence and self-discipline which helped him to become a world-class Wushu master. He was the first non-Chinese to get admission in the school. He made his first appearance in the movie, The Miracle Fighters in 1982. His second film was in 1984 Drunken Tai Chi which was a huge hit. His performance in the movies was very much appreciated by everyone. He was a great inspiration for the youngsters. He was known for his action scenes in the movies.
At the age of nineteen, he had achieved great appreciation and success. He gained more and more popular and had the opportunity to work with famous actors. He did major roles with D&B Films Co in the movies like Tiger Cage, Tiger Cage 2, In the Line of Duty and earned a good reputation throughout China. But after some time the company D&B Films Co. got bankrupt, and he had to work again in the small budget movies. But his fame continued in the industry. He worked in Once Upon a Time in China II in 1992. Director Hark Tsui was impressed and offered Yen the role of General Lan. He has even been a part of the television series Jing Wu-men. He started his production house in 1997 naming Bullet Films. Legend of the Wolf was his first directorial debut. His other directed works included Ballistic Kiss in 1998 and City of Darkness in 1999. He has even worked as a choreographer for fight scenes and made guest appearances in movies like Highlander: Endgame, Blade II in 2002. During the very same year, he worked as an assistant to famous Chinese director Yimou Zhang in the movie Hero. In 2003, he was seen in the movie Shanghai Knights along with
. His other movies include The Twins Effect, The Twins Effect II, Gin chap hak mooi gwai.
His recent works include An Empress and the Warriors, which was an epic battle movie in 2008, Painted Skin a supernatural romance and IP Man in the same year. He got married twice in his life. His first marriage was to Jowan Leung Sing-Si in 1994. The couple had a son together, and they divorced within a year in 1995. His second marriage was in 2003 to Cecilia Cissy Wang and have a daughter Jasmine and a son, James.