Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s Mark Hamill had very high praise for Donnie Yen’s fighting skills in Rogue One. The latter consistently stole scenes as Chirrut Îmwe, the blind warrior-monk and devotee to the Jedi religion. When he wasn’t beating up bad guys with relative ease, he was dropping one-liners or repeating his mantra: “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.” He even convinced his skeptical partner Baze Malbus to believe in the Force and utter the phrase in his final moments.
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Despite Chirrut’s obvious skills with a staff in Rogue One, he’s never seen fighting with a lightsaber. But based on his abilities, you can imagine that he’d wield one rather effectively. That’s certainly how Hamill feels, as he revealed in a recent interview. And Yen himself approves.
Hamill spoke with YouTuber Norma Jenner and was asked who he felt was the best lightsaber fighter he’s seen in the Star Wars movies. He named Yen’s character, and while Hamill couldn’t quite remember his name, Chirrut Îmwe clearly left an impression on the Luke Skywalker actor. The fan account Donnie Yen Daily took notice of Hamill’s compliments, and on Wednesday Yen himself approved with a simple two thumbs up.
— Donnie Yen 甄子丹 (@DonnieYenCT) January 10, 2018
Hamill’s assertions on Chirrut Îmwe, and the latter’s skills themselves, are even more impressive considering that he wasn’t actually Force-sensitive. He relied on his spirituality and physical skills to become a great warrior despite his blindness. But he also was quite in tune with the ways of the Force as a member of the Guardians of the Whills. For instance, he senses that the necklace worn by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) contains a kyber crystal, one of the main materials to power lightsabers.
Based on Hamill’s comments, it’s clear that effective fighting through the Force didn’t always have to involve a lightsaber. But Chirrut Îmwe is a character who likely would have been close to the same level as someone like Luke Skywalker when it comes to skills with Star Wars’ most iconic weapon. Chirrut also proved that you don’t need to be Force-sensitive to be a formidable fighter, you just need to believe in its powers – and that may have impressed Hamill more than anything.
Yen’s performance as Chirrut Îmwe was so memorable that perhaps he and the Guardians of the Whills deserve their own spinoff at some point. To see a character so devoted to the Force, despite being unable to actually use it, was fascinating to watch. Chirrut fans may never get to see the character on-screen again, but his appearance in Rogue One alone was certainly impressive enough to leave a mark on the franchise.
KEY RELEASE DATES
Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi release date: Dec 15, 2017
Solo: A Star Wars Story release date: May 25, 2018
Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX release date: Dec 20, 2019