Action stars in war of words

He had kept his peace initially.

But Hong Kong gongfu star Donnie Yen, 48, is considering taking legal action against his Chinese martial arts counterpart, Vincent Zhao, 39.

At the inaugural Power of Film Gala held at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong on Sunday, which he hosted alongside model Lisa Selesner, Yen issued a strongly-worded press release to the gathered media, saying Zhao had slandered him.

He later told reporters in Cantonese: "I feel very disappointed... (Zhao) twisted the truth. I feel that as an actor, one shouldn't create rumours."

The Hong Kong media reported last month that Zhao was difficult on the set of the new movie Special Identity, in which Yen served as producer, action director and lead actor.

The reports alleged that Zhao, who shot to fame playing Wong Fei Hung in the fourth and fifth instalments of Once Upon a Time in China, refused to show up for filming.

He was later dropped from the cast and his role was filled by Hong Kong action actor Andy On.

But Zhao retaliated and told the Chinese media last Thursday that Yen was the difficult one.

He claimed Yen wanted major changes to the script, reduced his role from a lead to a supporting one and removed a big action scene featuring him.

The film's producer, Zhang Wang, defended Yen, telling the Hong Kong media that the star had nothing to do with the script changes.

Zhao was taken off the movie, Zhang added, because he was too expensive to upkeep with his 45,885 yuan (S$9,100) a night presidential suite.

'Disappointed and hurt'

Yen avoided the media then.

But last Thursday, he commented on his Weibo microblog that he was "disappointed and hurt, but remained unswayed and would continue with the filming of the movie".

Then on Sunday, he issued the one-page press release in which he said he did not force Zhao to leave and that the decision was made by the movie's investors.

Yen also listed five "untruths" Zhao told the media, which he said damaged the reputation and image he has built up during his 30 years in showbiz.

While relations between the two men appear to be beyond repair, Yen clarified it doesn't mean they won't collaborate again.

He added: "I'm too busy for this (dispute) and I don't want to be embroiled in it.

"I'm discussing with my lawyer how to handle this and I will leave it to my lawyer."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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