Donnie Yen Vs Jackie Chan: Who Would Win?

The story is told that the day before the infamous gunfight near the O.K. Corral, an inebriated Ike Clanton tried to goad Wyatt Earp into shooting it out. Wyatt replied he wasn’t going to fight Ike, “because there is no money in it.” (Earp then added, “Go home, Ike. You talk too much for a fighting man.”) When Tombstone hostilities erupted into gunfire the next day, Ike survived by running away at the beginning, so we’ll never know the outcome of a Wyatt vs Ike gunfight. But we can guess.

Bring that action into modern times, and it quickly becomes a case of apples vs oranges. Donnie Yen, born in 1963, is one of the present masters of the martial arts action film, according to Black Belt Magazine, and Jackie Chan, born in 1954, per Biography, has been acting in several movie genres since he was eight, including musicals. Both have worked as fight choreographers and performed stunts, and both have directed and produced films. Chan’s background is a bit more diverse — he really is a serious martial artist, but also has a very successful singing career, particularly in Asia, with a number of hit albums to his credit. He’s even been known to say he’d really like to do musicals in the future, which is understandable, considering the damage he’s suffered doing stunt-heavy martial arts movies for decades. Yen and Chan appeared together on screen, in 2003’s pseudo-western comedy Shanghai Knights.

Maybe it's not the years; it's the mileage

For his part, Yen has been fully engaged in martial artistry from the beginning, with a mother who is a Tai Chi grandmaster in her own right. Yen has displayed singular focus on developing his own skills, studying and mastering several styles of martial art, including boxing, kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do, and Wing Chun Kuen, a style he shares with Chan. Yen has competed extensively as a martial artist, while most of Chan’s performances have been in film.

As for a matchup? Yen himself was asked about it during an interview in 2018 with the Wing Chun News. He was gracious and respectful. His reply: “Of course. Jackie would.” An unnamed producer who was also part of the interview interjected: “Jackie, he has smarts. He’d win with his brains, probably.” Or Jackie might paraphrase the late Spencer Tracy, who is said to have told a young method-school actor, “I’m too old, too rich, and too tired for this. So let’s just do the scene.” Or quote Indiana Jones: “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”

The smart money would be on Wyatt.

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