When director Chad Stahelski first approached Yen for the role of Caine, his main reference point was Zatoichi, a blind swordsman from a series of films released in the 1960s and ’70s. Zatoichi is outwardly an unassuming older man, catching opponents off guard with his skill as a swordsman despite being blind. While Yen understood Stahelski’s approach to Caine, the actor had another idea entirely. Instead of going for the archetypical blind warrior, he would rather fit in with the type of assassins and fighters you’d expect from a “John Wick” film — cool suit and all. As Stahelski recalls in Total Film’s “John Wick: Chapter 4” cover feature:
“Donnie was like, ‘I get what you’re going for. I just don’t want to be the old, blind guy with a cane.’ He came back and goes, ‘If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather be the cool guy in the suit … It’s ‘John Wick.’ It’s a suit movie. It’s cool!’ I was like, ‘You know what, Donnie? You’re absolutely right!'”
Yen’s character isn’t a straight-up villain either. “Caine is an old buddy of John Wick – and an ex-assassin as well,” Yen detailed. “Most extraordinary is that he is a man who gave up his own sight in exchange for his daughter’s safety.”
John Wick’s actions have apparently forced others out of retirement, as Caine looks to be back to work going against him. Whether he turns from foe to friend remains to be seen, but he definitely has the “cool guy in a suit” aesthetic Yen was hoping for.
“John Wick: Chapter 4” arrives in theaters on March 24, 2023.