5 Must-See Michelle Yeoh Movies Besides 'Crazy Rich Asians'
From Valiant Swordswoman to Bond Girl, We List but Five of the Malaysian Actress' Most Memorable Roles on the Big Screen
For over three decades, Michelle Yeoh has impressed movie audiences with more than 50 films under her belt.
The Malaysian-born actress first made her name as an Asian action superstar with Hong Kong films including Supercop (1992), Heroic Trio (1993) and Wing Chun (1994). She then gained international acclaim with blockbuster hits such as Tomorrow Never Dies (1997); Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000); and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005).
It is Yeoh's compelling portrayal as a domineering, status-conscious matriarch in 2018's Crazy Rich Asians that not only brought her a new generation of fans, but it also generated Oscar buzz for the actress for the first time in her illustrious career. The first Hollywood film in 25 years with an all-Asian cast, it went on to become the highest grossing romantic comedy in over a decade, grossing $239 million globally.
After a high-profile stint on the CBS sci-fi TV series Star Trek: Discovery (2017-2020), the Ipoh native then became one of the unique actors to star as two different characters in the lucrative Marvel Cinematic Universe with roles in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017) and Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).
It is however her recent tour-de-force performance in the absurdist sci-fi action comedy, Everything Everywhere All At Once, that has made critics reckoned that Yeoh will earn her first Oscar nomination.
Soon to be heard in Minions 2: The Rise of Gru (2022) and seen in all four upcoming Avatar sequels (2022-2028), here are but five other Michelle Yeoh movies that are must-sees besides Crazy Rich Asians:
1. 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' (2022)
A box office hit and critics' favorite, this unique multiverse-themed action drama easily boasts Yeoh's most impressive cinematic performance to date.
As frustrated middle-aged Chinese American laundromat owner Evelyn Wang who has to deal with a timid husband, a demanding father, an alienating daughter, and a no-nonsense tax lady, Yeoh competently exhibits a wide range of emotions, as well as showcases how effortlessly she can speak in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.
Add to that, she also masterfully displays her versatility via a variety of personas in the parallel universes where Evelyn's hidden dreams are manifested—from a glamourous movie star to an overworked chef, from a Chinese opera singer to a lovelorn woman with, yes, hotdogs for fingers.
2. 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' (2000)
This groundbreaking wuxia (Chinese term meaning "martial heroes") film established Yeoh as the most successful Asian female action star of all-time. The actress had to learn her Mandarin lines phonetically but her emoting and fighting skills were clear for all to see: her duel with Zhang Ziyi is one of the most exhilarating sequences in the film, while her nuanced scenes with Chow Yun-Fat are laced with understated elegance.
Directed by Ang Lee, the 4-time Oscar-winning film (including Best Foreign Film) garnered a slew of global awards and nominations including BAFTA and Golden Horse Best Actress nods for Yeoh. She would reprise her role as Yu in the 2016 sequel, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, co-starring Donnie Yen and Harry Shum Jr.
3. 'The Lady' (2011)
From appearance to tone of voice, Yeoh's portrayal of real-life Myanmar political icon Aung San Suu Kyi in The Lady is one of her best dramatic performances. To look the part, the actress adjusted her exercise regime in order to look as thin as the British-educated freedom fighter and even learned the Burmese language to make a key political rally scene look authentic.
Directed by Luc Besson, the French-British film—which focuses on the relationship between Aung and her writer husband Michael Aris (David Thewlis) as she becomes a symbol of Burma's democratic movement—is a well-filmed, brilliantly acted biopic which was sadly overshadowed by Meryl Streep's The Iron Lady, a portrayal of yet another famous woman politician, released the same year.
4. 'Supercop' (1992)
Yeoh had already made her name as an action star in the 1980s with kick-ass roles in Hong Kong films such as Yes, Madam! (1985) and Dynamite Fighters (1987). Starring in 1992's Supercop, the third installment of action superstar Jackie Chan's Police Story series, would propel the former model to worldwide recognition.
Renowned as one of the rare actresses who does her own stunts, Yeoh's achievements in the film filled with incredible stunts include the now-famous sequence where she rides and steers a motorcycle onto a moving train. Watch the outtakes in the end credits where you will see the actress having to do a great number of takes before successfully executing the memorable stunt, as well as falling off a moving vehicle during another action scene as Chan failed to grab hold of her.
5. 'Tomorrow Never Dies' (1997)
Making her first Hollywood appearance in James Bond 18, Yeoh not only became the first Chinese actress to play a Bond Girl, her character Wai Lin would go on to be widely regarded as one of the best Bond Girls in the phenomenally popular British spy series. Though she was not allowed to perform her own stunts, Yeoh did most of her fight scenes herself. She and co-star Pierce Brosnan motorcycling frantically across the streets of Saigon and their drastic descent on a banner from a hotel rooftop remained two of the best action sequences ever seen in a James Bond movie.
Special Mention: 'Reign Of Assassins' (2010)
This China/Taiwan/Hong Kong production boasts one of Yeoh's best performances. She plays a skilled assassin who takes on a new life as a village cloth merchant married to a loving husband. Fate intervenes when her former gang hunts her down to retrieve a mythical power-wielding object that she was hiding.
Although the convoluted plot has more twists than a croissant, the well-choreographed action sequences and stunning cinematography more than made up for it. Yeoh excelling in action scenes is a given, but what was impressive is her ability to switch seamlessly between being a demure village woman and the cold-blooded assassin that her character used to be.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is available on selected digital platforms. Michelle Yeoh's upcoming streaming credits include The Witcher: Blood Origins (end 2022) and American Born Chinese (TBC).