Michelle Yeoh: Her 5 Best Movies (Guaranteed Without Hollywood)

Long before she got an Oscar for Best Actress for Everything Everywhere All at Once, Michelle Yeoh was already one of Southeast Asia’s biggest talents. Back on his 5 best films away from Hollywood.

With the phenomenon Everything Everywhere All at OnceMichelle Yeoh finally reaches the final stage of an already solid Hollywood career arc, between tomorrow never dies, Memoirs of a Geisha, sunshine or Crazy Rich Asians. The Daniels’ film (and its critical and academic recognition, confirmed with 7 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress) finally offers the Malaysian actress a main role revealing her immense talent, after more than twenty-five years spent in the heart of the American cinematographic landscape.

Nevertheless, before imposing herself by the force of tenacity on American soil, Michelle Yeoh had already cut her teeth (and even much more than that) in China and Hong Kong, asserting itself as one of the great muses of girl with guns and martial arts cinema.

A look back at 5 notable films of his pre-Hollywood career, in excluding the incredible Tiger and Dragonsince it is a rather too obvious American co-production.

So they didn’t put Tiger and Dragon?

1. The sense of duty 2 (Yes Madam!)

Released: 1985 – Duration: 1h33

Sense of Duty 2 : photo, Cynthia Rothrock, Michelle YeohIntercontinental Connection

During the 1980s, the girl with guns asserts itself as a solid alternative to the male hegemony established by the Hong Kong thriller. By presenting believable heroines, as capable as their male counterparts and kept away from any unwelcome sexualization, this reinterpretation of the crime film becomes extremely popular within the HK industry. Directed by Corey Yuen and featuring the explosive duo formed by Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock, The Sense of Duty 2 (from its original title Yes Madam!listen)) is still considered the instigator of the genre.

Former Miss Malaysia spotted by the icon of martial arts cinema Sammo Hung, Michelle Yeoh (still credited under the pseudonym of Michelle Khan, she will resume her real surname in the early 1990s) shows a flawless investment. She trains hard in order to limit as much as possible the intervention of doubles during the fight scenes. The result is impressive, and Yeoh’s effective association with world taekwondo champion Cynthia Rothrock gives back to female heroines a place they no longer had since the fall of the film of sabers.

Sense of Duty 2 : photo, Cynthia Rothrock, Michelle YeohHands up”

The feature film is full of successful fight scenes, starting with a confrontation between the two acolytes and about fifteen attackers, taking place on three levels at a time. Note that the French marketing of the film is totally inconsistent : Yes Madam! is indeed distributed in France as a sequel to the Sense of dutyyet released in Hong Kong in 1986 (one year after Corey Yuen’s feature film) under the title Royal Warriors.

2. Police Story 3: Supercop

Released: 1992 – Duration: 1h35

Michelle Yeoh: photo, Police Story 3: Supercop, Jackie ChanTwo sides of the same coin

After the success of Yes Madam!, Yeoh establishes himself as a new star in HK action cinema through hits like Royal Warriors Or Magnificent Warriors. Regularly injured on set, she was pushed away from the sets by her husband, businessman and producer Dickson Pooh.

After his divorce and a five-year hiatus, the queen of girl with guns made her return in 1992, alongside Jackie Chan, in the third installment of the saga Police Story. The film, which sends the super cop from Hong Kong into contact with his counterparts on the continent, must also serve as a plea for collaboration between the forces of the English colony and those of China, as the agonizing retrocession approaches. It is therefore Michelle Yeoh who is entrusted with the (heavy) task of representing the face of the Chinese ally on the screen.

Police Story 3: Supercop: Photo, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh“Stop it ticklingllllllllllll”

But the one who has been nicknamed – because of her abilities and her ease with taking risks – “Jackie Chan in the feminine” has no desire to make up the numbers. Embodying a Chinese special forces officer, Yeoh isn’t content with the position of being an ally to the King of Comedy Kung Fu. She asserts herself as her true alter ego, performing most of her stunts herself, going so far as to regularly steal the show.. Winning return for Michelle Yeoh who becomes, with super copthe highest-grossing and highest-paid actress in Asian cinema.

Police Story 3: Supercop is, of course, not the most brilliant film in the saga, the fault of a regularly borrowed Stanley Tong. However, the film is a milestone in the career of the actress, who proves on his return his ability to compete with the biggest stars of the continent, without ever having to be ashamed. The next episode of the saga, super cop 2will award the lead role to the Malaysian actress, before Chan returns to Counter attack.

3. The Heroic Trio

Released: 1993 – Duration: 1h28

The Heroic Trio: photo, Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui, Maggie CheungGirls with guns, assembly

The name of Johnnie To is, in the first place, associated with some great masterpieces of chiselled and realistic thriller. Without being exhaustive, we can easily cite The Mission, breaking news or both Election. But before giving birth to these multiple pieces of bravery, the director-producer has been chomping at the bit for a long time, in the shadow of his fellow purveyors of urban westerns, Ringo Lam and John Woo in the lead. It will indeed be necessary to wait for the departure of the greatest for To to establish himself as one of the best craftsmen of HK cinema.

The 1980s and 1990s of the filmmaker were therefore up and down, and mainly dictated by the cinematographic trends of the time, whether they emanated from the Far East or the West. Among this flood of releases with irregular artistic qualities, The Heroic Trio serves as an exciting little curiosity. Clearly set up to try to capitalize on the success of the Batman by Tim Burton, Johnnie’s project gets off to a bad start when he realizes that the salaries demanded by the major players in the archipelago risk eating into a good part of his rather limited budget.

The Heroic Trio : Foto Maggie Cheung, Anita Mui, Michelle YeohThe heroic trio, literally

To finally turns to three actresses who have proven themselves in action cinema: Anita Mui (seen in The Crime Syndicate 3 of Tsui Hark), Maggie Cheung (the first three Police Story Or The Dragon Inn by Raymond Lee and Tsui Hark), and of course Michelle Yeoh. All three form a trio of whimsical superheroinesevolving in a retro-futuristic universe as much inspired by American comic books as by traditional wuxia literature, which allows Yeoh to test his ease with cable choreography.

One of the only overtly superheroic tales in Hong Kong cinema, as atypical as family entertainment that would lose control to complete its run in category 3 madness.

4. Tai Chi Master

Released: 1993 – Duration: 1h33

Tai chi master: photo, Michelle YeohEveryone at the table

After Jackie Chan, another martial arts prodigy Michelle Yeoh holds the candle high in the person of the phenomenal Jet Li, who occupies here the roles of main actor and producer of tai chi master. The film, a dream project of director and combat director Yuen Woo-Ping, explores the many facets of Taoist philosophy through the destinies of two apprentice monks rejected from Shaolin, with very different paths.

Although provided with a comic overlay not always of the best effect, the feature film is especially worth for the great place granted to the many martial talents constituting its distribution. Yeoh is completely at home under the aegis of the legendary filmmaker-choreographer and benefits from some of the most striking sequences of Tai Chi Masterof which a fight with two sabers and a memorable and airy confrontation involving table legs used in a rather original way.

Tai chi master: photo“Careful, it’s going to cut!”

Once again outsider of a cast essentially composed of strong male heads, the actress manages to never lose herself in the shadow of the Jet Li of the 90s, due to his physical abilities, but also his largely underestimated comic potential. A performance that many could envy him.

5.True Legend

Released: 2010 – Duration: 1h56

True Legend: photo, Michelle YeohVertical Limit

After her first Hollywood foray as the James Bond Girl Wai-Lin in tomorrow never diesfollowed three years later by Tiger and Dragon, Michelle Yeoh is successfully illustrated in a more dramatic register in front of the cameras of Danny Boyle or Rob Marshall, abandoning pure action cinema for a time. She returned there in 2010 with The reign of the assassins, but also True Legendagain directed by master Yuen Woo-Ping.

The film tackles a big piece by telling the destiny of the practitioner of martial arts Beggar Su, folk hero with a dissolute way of life, antithesis of the righteousness of a Wong Fei-Hung, and legendary (and a bit fantasized) practitioner of drunken man’s boxing. In True Legendthe famous beggar is present on the screen in the guise of Vincent Zhao, successor to Jet Li in the saga Once upon a time in China and main actor of The Blade.

True Legend : Foto Yuen Woo-ping“Michelle’s talent is great like that”

For her part, Michelle Yeoh embodies the benefactress sister Yu, inhabitant of the mountains and savior of Beggar Su after her original descent into hell. Even if the actress does not have a very important presence time, the role given to Yeoh in True Legend has a high symbolic value. Sister Yu is indeed presented, at the turn of a few scenes, as a quasi-mystical character, a transmitter of knowledge with infinite wisdom.

By guiding the hero on the path of learning and redemption, Yu is the equal of the great Kung-Fu Pian tutors of the 60s and 70s, a privilege rarely granted to a female character. Further proof of the incomparable aura generated by Yeoh on the Asian continent, after more than 25 years of a career rarely marred by missteps.

Michelle Yeoh: Her 5 Best Movies (Guaranteed Without Hollywood)