The rumor mill churns faster for Star Wars news than almost any other movie series or franchise, especially now that multiple film installments are in the works with different directors, screenwriters, actors and characters involved. And with the notoriously secretive J.J. Abrams at the helm of December 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens – the first Star Wars film in 10 years – it’s safe to say that there’s a lot we won’t know too much more about the beginning of the new Star Wars movie trilogy until the first chapter opens in theaters.
These films are in various stages of development, and news is bound to leak out, though. As such, today’s Star Wars rumor patrol concerns both Star Wars: Episode VIII – currently being written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper) – as well as Star Wars: Rogue One, which Gareth Edwards (Godzilla (2014)) begins shooting later this year.
Slashfilm has picked up a story from the Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily, claiming that Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen (IP Man) will play a Jedi in Episode VIII, and that he will start shooting scenes opposite Harrison Ford as early as next month. That last part makes little to no sense, seeing as Episode VIII shouldn’t be starting production until late 2015, at the earliest.
However, Twitch has follow up on the rumor with a report that Edwards has been seeking an Asian male action star to fill out the cast of his Star Wars entry – with other theoretical contenders include Jet Li, Stephen Chow, Tony Leung and Chang Chen. Edwards has already confirmed that no Jedi will appear in Star Wars: Rogue One, the first of many spinoff films for the revived franchise. So, while parts of this rumor sound fabricated, other parts may well be accurate.
The Force Awakens cast reportedly includes martial arts specialists from The Raid 2, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that additional fighting experts will be recruited for the other forthcoming Star Wars films. Besides the obvious benefit of having experienced fighters to participate in the movies’ action scenes, casting people like Yen will help to boost these films’ international appeal (and perhaps secure production partnerships to reduce costs and maximize profit).
From a creative standpoint, such casting decisions point to the new Star Wars movies featuring highly-choreographed action. While that’s encouraging in some ways, in other ways it raises concerns that the lightsaber duels in the new Star Wars films will could be too well-polished and constructed for their own good (see the common criticism of lightsaber fights in the Star Wars prequel trilogy). It’s certainly something to think about, either way.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens opens in theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16th, 2016, and Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017.