His parent were from Nanjing. As a teen he attended Peking Fujen University and Shanghai's Da Xia University. In 1938 Yen debuted in "The New Hell" as an actor. In 1953 he branched out and made his directorial debut with "Love Eternal". He then went on to direct over 50 films such as "The Bride Napping", "Three Sinners", "Squadron 77", "The Grand Substitution" and "That Fiery Girl". Was married to Lee Lai Wah in 1959. In 1972 Yen developed heart problems and so he retired from film, moved to New York. Then in August of 1980 he died at the age of 63 in the United States.
From the Celestial DVD release of "The Jade Faced Assassin".