Yuan was born in New York City, New York, the son of Theresa and Joseph Yuan, and the brother of actor Roger Yuan.
Yuan has also recently appeared in Roland Emmerich's Independence Day sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, playing Yeong, the main weapons engineer. Before that, Yuan appeared in the film The Accountant (directed by Gavin O'Connor), with Ben Affleck, J. K. Simmons and Anna Kendrick, playing a reluctant Silat master. Yuan had a cameo in Martin Scorsese's Revenge of the Green Dragons, directed by Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs) and Andrew Loo, playing the feared leader of the notorious BTK. Yuan also joined Francesca Eastwood and Annie Q in Cardinal X, produced by Richard Bosner (Fruitvale Station) and Cassian Elwes in a semi-autobiographical film from first time director Angie Wang based on a college freshman in the 1980s who becomes an expert manufacturer and dealer of ecstasy.
Yuan also had memorable turns on hit films Art of War, Fast and Furious, Cradle 2 the Grave, Blood and Bone, and Red Dawn.
Yuan is currently a series regular on the Netflix hit, the Weinstein Company's "Marco Polo" created by John Fusco. Yuan plays Prince Nayan, a fiery eyed descendant of Genghis Khan. Nayan is a converted Christian that rules all of Manchuria and whose closely watched actions will affect Kublai's control of Asia.
Yuan has also appeared on Jon Bokenkamp's hit show "The Blacklist" as mysterious Blacklister Quon Zhang. Yuan was also seen in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy" as the intense and unpredictable Ryu Tom. Yuan played hard-nosed Lt. Peter Kang in the short lived CBS series "Golden Boy" from Nicholas Wootton and Greg Berlanti. Yuan also had recent cameo special guest appearances on the TV shows "Castle" and "Justified". Yuan also played the iconic Japanese character Scorpion for Warner Bros' secret Mortal Kombat X "Generations".
In the past, Yuan was cast in a leading role on HBO pilot "All Signs of Death" opposite Ben Whishaw, directed by Alan Ball (True Blood). Yuan recently had character arcs on FOX's "Touch" opposite Keifer Sutherland created by Tim Kring (Heroes), NBC's "Awake" opposite Jason Isaacs and FOX pilot "Exit Strategy" with Ethan Hawke directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day).
Yuan also had memorable turns on other hit series Prison Break, CSI:NY, 24, Burn Notice, NCIS:LA, Pushing Daisies, and Entourage.
Yuan has also been the voice behind major video or computer games such as Call of Duty-Black Ops 2, Halo, Star War's Old Republic, Resident Evil, World of Warcraft, Medal of Honor, Army of Two, Guild Wars 2, Deus Ex, Drake's Uncharted, and many more.
Yuan designed the fight sequences as well as going behind camera as Action Director for Steve Chasman/ Jason Statham's "Wild Card" scripted by William Goldman and directed by Simon West. Yuan just finished designing and directing the action on the popular Taiwanese/ Chinese/ International action franchise "PiZi Ying Xiong 2"(Black&White 2) shot entirely in Taiwan.
In November 2016, it was announced that Yuan would be directing Step Up 6, an installment of Lionsgate's popular Step Up franchise, which would also be featuring an all-Chinese cast.
He has directed and written several short films so far, including Lollipops (2009), Three Bullets (2009) (starring Michael Jai White) and Tea and Remembrance (2009), starring himself and Marie Matiko. He is currently working on a feature project entitled "Unspoken" starring Russell Wong, Brian Tee, Will Yun Lee, and Ian Anthony Dale.