By now you’ve already seen the official teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first entry into the new Star Wars Anthology that spins-off from the main film series. Set just before 1977’s A New Hope, Rogue One follows a small band of Rebels who obtain the Death Star’s blueprints, which later allows Luke Skywalker to blow it sky high. (Spoilers?) Among them is an as-yet unnamed badass played by Hong Kong superstar Donnie Yen.
In a universe dominated by Force powers, lightsabers, and blasters, Rogue One appears ground-level gritty, featuring a character who knows how to fight without any of those fan-favorite, high-tech weapons. Yen, as seen in the trailer, sports a fragile-looking wooden stick but uses it as a quarterstaff to anihilate a few Stormtroopers.
Of course, he kind of has to fight dirty. While it’s still unknown who Yen’s character is — some speculate he’s a surviving Jedi — this is an era in the Star Wars timeline when the Jedi are extinct. So no one has a lightsaber, not even makeshift ones like Kylo Ren.
Donnie Yen is a bona fide action star in Asia, best known for playing the grandmaster Ip Man (the teacher of Bruce Lee) in the successful Ip Man series. Yen himself is an expert in taekwondo, judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and wrestling, so he knows a thing or two about kicking ass.
Surprisingly, Yen isn’t the first to bring martial arts to a galaxy far, far away. George Lucas incorporated fencing and kendo in the original trilogy, and in 1999’s The Phantom Menace actor Ray Park, who portrayed the sith warrior Darth Maul, was a champion martial artist who incorporated Shaolin kung-fu and wushu into the role. Nor is Yen the first to fight dirty; Daisy Ridley’s Rey knew a thing or two about stick fighting in last year’s The Force Awakens.
Who would have thought that even in space, people still fight with sticks and stones?