Michelle Yeoh's career-defining films, from Tai Chi Master to Crazy Rich Asians

The star has a career spanning four decades, and has just won the Best Actress Oscar for her latest role in Everything Everywhere All at Once

Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian winner of the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Michelle Yeoh has become the first Asian winner of the Best Actress Academy Award, marking a high moment in her 40-year-career.

The Malaysian actress took the award for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, the absurdist comedy-drama, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. She plays Evelyn Wang, an ageing Chinese immigrant, who is swept up in a bizarre and magical adventure that has her exploring and connecting with parallel universe versions of herself.

Here are seven more of her career-defining films.

Yes, Madam (1985)

Yes, Madam was one of the first movies Yeoh worked on after she was crowned Miss World Malaysia in 1983. Appearing alongside Cynthia Rothrock, she stars as an inspector who becomes entangled in a case involving the triads. The film ushered in Hong Kong's In the Line of Duty film series.

Tai Chi Master (1993)

By the time Tai Chi Master was released, Yeoh had already made a name for herself in the Hong Kong film industry. In the highly entertaining 1993 film Tai Chi Master with Jet Li, she stars as Siu-lin, a young woman who discovers her missing husband has remarried and soon becomes tangled in a conflict between the military and a local rebellion.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Yeoh’s performance as the Chinese super-spy Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies loomed from the archetypal Bond girl. Though the film’s writers tried to pigeonhole the character in a typical damsel in distress trope, Yeoh presented Lin as enduring and powerful. The role also garnered Yeoh international attention.

The Soong Sisters (1997)

In The Soong Sisters, Yeoh takes on the role of one of three Soong daughters who, after being educated in the US, return to China to marry. The sisters were some of the country’s most influential political figures in the early 20th century. Yeoh stars alongside Maggie Cheung and Vivian Wu.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

While her role in Tomorrow Never Dies brought Yeoh international attention, her performance in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon brought her international acclaim. The film, which also stars Chow Yun-fat, tells the story of two 19th-century warriors looking for a mythical sword. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2001 Academy Awards.

The Lady (2011)

A love story with historical elements mixed in, The Lady tells the story of Aung San Suu Kyi as she becomes the core of Myanmar's democracy movement and her relationship with her husband, writer Michael Aris. The film is directed by Luc Besson and stars Yeoh and David Thewlis in the lead roles.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Yeoh’s performance as the formidable matriarch of the Young family is one of the most lauded elements of Crazy Rich Asians. The romantic comedy is based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan. It tells the story of a Chinese-American teacher who discovers she is in a relationship with the son of one of Singapore’s wealthiest families.

Updated: March 13, 2023, 8:25 AM