A Look Back At Her Career


Whoever doesn’t like Yeoh should be fed to a crouching tiger.

Martial artist, athlete, ballet dancer, pianist, beauty queen (Miss Malaysia 1983), and hardcore action star all rolled into one: Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh is the G.O.A.T.


Steven Ferdman / WireImage / Getty Images

There are just a few Asian-American artists in Hollywood and even fewer Asian-American A-listers. For years, Asian characters in Hollywood movies were reduced to either the genius, bespectacled, nerd sidekick or the naturally gifted at martial arts sidekick of the white guy/girl. It’s only now that a major studio is going to launch a superhero movie that Asians can call their own. And heading this movie are several gifted Asian superstars like Tony Leung, Fala Chen, and redoubtable Michelle Yeoh.

One can imagine the tremendous talent and grit that Yeoh possess that allowed her to swing, somersault, punch and kick her way through the forbidding jungle of Hollywood and plant her flag atop various studios. 

After a crackling performance in Star Trek: Discovery, Michelle Yeoh is back with Gunpowder Milkshake to regale us with her kicks, punches, and emotional portrayal of strong women.


Reiner Bajo / REINER BAJO/STUDIOCANAL © 2021

She plays the role of Florence, a “librarian” (an assassin actually) who is in charge of maintaining order in a library full of books that enclose guns. Her co-librarians are played by equally wonderful Carla Gugino and Angela Basett with Lena Headey and Karen Gillan too later joining the party. 

But first, let’s not forget that Michelle Yeoh singlehandedly carved out the “girls-with-guns” subgenre in Hong Kong cinema.


Fortune Star Media Limited / Via youtube.com

She got her start in the Hong Kong film industry where she often starred opposite stars like Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Jet Li. She had a supporting role in her first movie, The Owl vs Bumbo where one of her co-stars was Sammo Hung. Yeoh was noticed and received top billing in her third film, the police drama Yes, Madam (1985), that was produced by Sammo Hung. 

She gained international stardom in 1997 when she starred opposite Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies and became the first Asian Bond Girl.


Keith Hamshere / Sygma via Getty Images

She was probably the strongest Bond girl who was even capable of kicking Bond’s arse. As the most physically gifted Bond girl, she was an equal partner of Bond in his exploits, rather than a beautiful and coy showpiece whose purpose was to warm Bond’s bed. Who can forget her motorcycle ride handcuffed with Brosnan? To this day, she remains the only Asian Bond Girl. 

Further stardom was waiting for her when she starred opposite Chow Yun Fat in Ang Lee’s magnum opus, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.


Sony Pictures / ©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the chef-d’œuvre of probably everyone involved with the movie. This 2000 wuxia film had the same impact at awards ceremonies that Parasite had. Yeoh was nominated for many prestigious awards including a BAFTA for Best Actress in Leading Role. Yeoh’s position as the unquestioned martial arts queen of international cinema was firmly cemented.  

Yeoh followed it up with The Touch, Sunshine (directed by Danny Boyle), True Legend, and Memoirs of a Geisha.


Columbia Pictures

Yeoh expanded her repertoire and achieved success in dramatic roles that relied more on dialogue delivery and facial expressions rather than speed and power of her fist. Memoirs of a Geisha was one such film. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and reunited Yeoh with her Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon co-star Zhang Ziyi. The movie also won three Academy Awards. 

Hollywood again fell in love with her when she was cast as a formidable matriarch in Crazy Rich Asians.


Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

She played Eleanor, the matriarch of Singapore’s renowned Young family. She puts her combat skills use against the American girlfriend of her son except that she’s trying to shoo her away not with flying kicks or tai chi moves but with  condescension. 

Soon we will see her in The Witcher prequel, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and the Avatar sequel.


Marvel

Though Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings would make Yeoh a prominent face for the MCU fans, her MCU debut happened much earlier in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 where she played the role of Aleta Ogord (picture above), a Ravager captain. 

But now, in Gunpowder Milkshake, Yeoh is back to her martial arts zone, where she had always excelled.


Netflix

Her character in Gunpowder Milkshake is a formidable assassin (a lesbian too probably) who enjoys mowing down bad guys with automatic weapons and then fracturing their spine with chain. 

Even at an age of 58, Yeoh does her own stunts as she has always done in her movies. If there’s any actress that’s a natural fit to play Black Widow, it’s Yeoh.


Netflix

Just imagine if Yeoh was 25 years younger and cast as Natasha Romanoff, what a total badass she would have been on screen. Can you imagine Thanos fighting with Yu Shu Lien armed with Green Destiny? 

Here are some of the fan reactions to Yeoh’s latest performance we’ve seen on Twitter:


Twitter: @nancywyuen

If they had given the ‘Green Destiny’ to her, she would have ended the fight singlehandedly.


Twitter: @Yeoh_ShuLien

Yeoh doesn’t get as much screen time as Lena Headey and Karen Gillan but she makes herself noticed whenever she is onscreen.

i don’t think there’s enough talking on how magnificent michelle yeoh was in this film #GunpowderMilkshake


Twitter: @crazycrains

Imagine Yeoh saying this in accented English, “I drink your milkshake”. It would not sound as intimidating as Daniel Day Lewis but it would have the same scary effect.


Twitter: @angryasianman

What’s your favorite Michelle Yeoh role? Let us know in the comments.

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