Michelle Yeoh is an award-winning Malaysian actress whose lengthy career has made her a household name in East Asian cinema, as well as Hollywood and global cinema. Yeoh rose to fame in the 90s after starring in several Hong Kong Kung Fu movies in which she performed her own stunts, like Yes Madam! and Police Story 3: Supercop. Yeoh soon became renowned around the world after starring in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Yeoh has starred in a number of films across genres. From dramas like Memoirs of a Geisha to the more recent rom-com Crazy Rich Asians, which earned her a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, Yeoh’s talents know no bounds. That being said, there is a reason that martial arts films are what made her famous in the first place. Known for carrying out her own stunts with precision and tact, Yeoh’s fight scenes are truly a sight to behold. These are Yeoh’s best action movies, ranked.
Royal Warriors revolves around Hong Kong police officer Michelle Yip, who forms an alliance with security agent Michael Wong to foil an upcoming hi-jacking. Considering that this film is over three decades old, it is very characteristic of an action film of the 80s. Between some of the over-the-top action sequences to the added romantic subplot, Royal Warriors is somewhat of an acquired taste. That being said, it is still one of Yeoh’s finest action films, showcasing her pristine choreography and her skills as an actress.
Yeoh stars alongside Jet Li in this classic kung fu film Tai Chi Master. The film revolves around two Shaolin monks with very different personalities, who are expelled from their temple after being accused of cheating. The two only cross paths again when one betrays the other, leading to a near-fatal battle. After all this turbulent action, the more humble of the monks discovers the power and grace of tai chi. Yeoh plays Siu-lin, a young woman who gets tangled up in the conflict against the local rebels. Yeoh showcases her fighting skills in a fabulous scene where she confronts her disloyal husband.
Inspectors Ng (Yeoh) and Morris (Cynthia Rothrock) spend their time tracking down two petty thieves in Yes, Madam!. Upon further investigation, Ng and Morris discover that the perps have taken something of extreme value. Yeoh shows off her martial arts skills once more in the high-octane action sequences throughout Yes Madam! while also maintaining the light-hearted tone of the film. Unlike many of Yeoh’s other films, Yes, Madam! has gotten lost in the shuffle, a diamond lost in a sea of gems.
In one of Yeoh’s biggest roles, she plays the creator of Wing Chun kung fu, Wing-Chun, whose tofu shop becomes threatened when bandits kidnap her friend. Unwilling to go down without a fight, Wing-Chun sets off to retrieve her friend and teach the bandits a lesson with the help from long-time friend and love interest Leung Pok (played by Donnie Yen). As the title character in Wing Chun, Yeoh is given the best opportunity to showcase her skills, making every move look effortless. Yeoh’s performance in Wing Chun as the real-life woman idol is arguably one of her most memorable.
Yeoh’s presence in Tomorrow Never Dies added her to the ever-expanding list of Bond girls in 1997. Unlike many of the previous Bond girls who acted as damsels in distress, Yeoh’s Wai Lin is a Chinese superspy, whose talents put 007 to shame. Her performance alongside Pierce Brosnan in this Bond film brought Yeoh into the eye of Western cinema as a talented actress who not only shines in her action choreography and martial arts, but manages to bring substance to every character she portrays.
In Yeoh’s most recent role, she plays the part of Evelyn Quan, an unlikely hero who must channel her newfound powers to fight dangers throughout the multiverse that emerges as a result of an unraveling reality. Everything Everywhere All At Once has been described as a “swirl of genre anarchy” by The New York Times as the film is truly one of a kind in an oversaturated market of action films. While the film’s main character was originally written for Jackie Chan, it was reworked and offered to Yeoh, who earned a Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Film Award for Best Actress and a Saturn Award pending.
In what is considered one of the best martial arts films of all time, Yeoh shines in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Considered to be her true breakout role into Western cinema, Yeoh plays the role of Shu Lien, friend of Master Li (Chow Yun-fat) who is entrusted with watching over the ever-coveted “Green Sword”. In Yeoh’s best fight scene to date, her character faces off against young Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi), using a number of weapons and pouring their hearts into the fight. Yeoh earned several award nominations for her performance, including a BAFTA and a Saturn nomination for Best Supporting Actress.