Before Everything, Everywhere All At Once, Michelle Yeoh Was Still an Action Hero

Five Michelle Yeoh masterpieces from her Hong Kong action days.

With Everything Everywhere All At Once getting the kind of hype that feels reserved for anything released by that mouse company to hordes of Funko Pop enthusiasts, I was hesitant about recommending it for our weekly movie review show, You Love to See It. Thankfully, our hosts (and News Editor Imran Khan) loved it just as much as I did, if not even more. Michelle Yeoh’s performance in the film as its lead cements her as one of the all-time greats, although I doubt that was ever in question. Not only does she have some serious dramatic acting chops, but her fighting skills are also well known around the world. So if you liked that little taste of action that the Daniels and co. provided in their movie, wait ‘till you see what Mrs. Yeoh has been doing for decades.

(You can also listen on Spotify or your favorite pod catcher too!)

Mike Williams, LB Hunktears, and I figured we’d come together to give Yeoh her very well-deserved flowers. As a public service, we’re looking at five classic Hong Kong action flicks that Yeoh not only starred in, but also did her own damn stunts for back in the day when you couldn’t fix things in post. So if you’re hankering for some more ass kicking, do yourself a favor and check out some of our favorite recommendations.

 

Yes, Madam (1985)

Get some mousse (for your hair) and a big stack of glass bricks (to slam a henchman through) for 1985’s Yes, Madam. Michelle Yeoh plays a cop teaming up with martial arts legend Cynthia Rothrock in Rothrock’s first ever movie role. Do I remember the plot of this movie? Not really. Are the fight scenes sick as hell? Dude… dude… they are so sick! Also, no one has ever looked cooler than Michelle Yeoh with her hair slicked back. —LB Hunktears

 

Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)

The third film in the legendary Police Story series, this is the movie that brought Yeoh out of a short retirement in the late 80s. And holy hell, was it worth it. Director Stanley Tong reach out to Yeoh personally to cast her in the film to co-star in it with Jackie fuckin’ Chan. Yeoh claims that the sick jump she did from a dirt bike onto a moving train inspired Jackie to not get shown up in his own movie, and pushed him to hang from a rope ladder out of a moving helicopter. One stunt in particular went slightly wrong, and Chan managed to hold onto Yeoh as she landed incorrectly onto the hood of a moving car, preventing her from serious injury. In a recent GQ video, she claims he saved her life. The best part is that very outtake is in the credits! —Paul Tamayo

 

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

This is the big one, the crossover hit. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a pure distillation of classic wuxia storytelling. Director Ang Lee tells the story of young love, but also an unspoken love between two warriors without peer who are played by Chow Yun-fat and Yeoh. These aren’t Yeoh’s most frenetic action scenes, but they’re certainly her most beautiful ones, especially during an excellent escalating fight between Yeoh’s character and Zhang Ziyi’s Jen Yu. —Mike Williams

 

Wing Chun (1994)

This 1994 classic stars Yeoh in the lead role, backed up by the always-great Donnie Yen and one of the first-to-ever-do-it actresses of Hong Kong cinema, Cheng Pei-pei. Yeoh plays Yim Wing-Chun, a near-mythical figure in Chinese history who is seen as the first master of the martial arts that bear her name. Directed by Yuen Woo-ping, the fights in this film are high-speed and a ton of fun, with some classic wirework lending everything an air of unreality. —Mike Williams

 

Tai Chi Master (1993)

Another Yuen Woo-ping film, this time starring Jet Li in the title role. Yeoh plays Siu-lin, a young woman who crosses paths with Li’s Zhang Junbao. For Yeoh’s part, there’s a fantastic early fight scene in a tea house that sees her fighting on tables and then stilts. The wirework is strong across this entire film, and every fight is a riot of strong action and colorful nonsense. —Mike Williams

 

RELATED ARTICLES