Michelle Yeoh's 7 best movies ahead of Everything Everywhere All At Once

Endlessly imaginative multiverse movie Everything Everywhere All At Once uncorks a host of visual potential in its story of a lone Chinese woman and her various alternate selves.

More than that, the movie, from directorial duo Daniels, is a fine showcase for the excellent Michelle Yeoh. With a career that stretches back nearly 40 years, encompassing all manner of striking action and drama movies, Yeoh has regularly seized our attention with a host of physically commanding roles.

In the form of Evelyn Quan, the put-upon hero who must unite the disparate parts of her personality, Yeoh may well have happened on the best role of her career. Everything Everywhere All At Once has been hailed by Cineworld Unlimited members as a propulsive and dizzying cinematic experience, anchored by Yeoh's transformative turn

Ahead of the film's release in Cineworld this Friday, we're celebrating the versatile Yeoh's filmography with a look back at her seven best roles.


1. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Pierce Brosnan's second outing as James Bond divided opinion with its action-centric narrative, particularly after the emotional depth of his breakout 007 movie GoldenEye.

Nevertheless, there's plenty to recommend Tomorrow Never Dies, from the witty remote-control-BMW car chase to Yeoh's resourceful and likeable Wai-Lin. 

In a rare sign of a Bond movie levelling the stakes, Wai-Lin is 007's equal, possessing the wry humour, gadgets and fighting skills needed to help him take down nefarious media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce).

Yeoh's casting may be seen as a transparent attempt to capture the Asian market, in line with the globalization that faced the Bond franchise at the time of the film's release. Nevertheless, she's a valued asset to the movie, capitalising on her fearsome martial arts abilities and bringing fresh panache to the increasingly stand 007 series.

2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Director Ang Lee vowed to make the ultimate martial arts movie and in the form of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, there's no doubt he succeeded.

This visually sumptuous and intoxicating blend of fantastical action and character drama, based on the Chinese novel of the same name, utilises 'wuxia', broadly defined as the meeting point between outlandish fantasy and hand-to-hand combat.

Nevertheless, the always-innovative Lee bends the parameters of the genre to his will, with aerial combat sequences and sword-fights lending an additional air of breathless wonder to proceedings.

However, it's the actors who help ground it. Yeoh is superb as fierce 19th-century Qing dynasty warrior Yu Shu Lien who must pair up with renowned swordsman Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) to help reclaim a priceless sword.

Not only possessing the requisite physical chops and noble bearing, Yeoh is able to communicate the human cost of violence and retribution with the most subtle of gestures.

3. Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Rob Marshall's adaptation of the bestselling novel was criticized for simplifying the particulars and nuances of Japanese geisha rituals, not to mention its casting of non-Japanese actors in several of the main roles. But there's no denying the movie's aesthetic beauty, particularly the stirring, Oscar-nominated score from John Williams.

The story centres on young girl Chiyo (Zhang Ziyi) who is sold by her impoverished family into a life of servitude. Step by step, we see how Chiyo acclimates to the emotionally painful and precise life of a geisha, the movie breathing in its gorgeous locations and settings.

Yeoh isn't the main figure but as ever she makes an impact. She portrays Mameha, a prominent geisha who takes Chiyo under her wing and encourages her training. As a result, Chiyo is renamed Sayuri and her transformation into a geisha properly begins. Yeoh's presence gives the often lightweight and superficial assimilation of Japanese customs some much-needed depth.

4. Sunshine (2007)

Danny Boyle's underrated sci-fi drama focuses on a disparate group of astronauts that is tasked with re-igniting the sun. Earth's nearest star is dying and our home planet is in freefall. It is the sworn duty of the spaceship Icarus (one of several on-the-nose references) to launch a do-or-die mission by firing an atomic weapon into the Earth's core.

Scripted by Alex Garland who had earlier worked with Boyle on the post-apocalyptic horror 28 Days Later, the movie sports a strong cast including Cillian Murphy and Chris Evans. The claustrophobia and impending threat of the Icarus' mission is borne out in the reactions of the various crew members, with some becoming addicted to the sun's visual power even as others decry the futility of the enterprise.

Yeoh portrays one of the more sensitive members of the expedition, the botanist Corazon whose ecological aspirations place higher than many of her crew mates. Needless to say, Corazon becomes one of the victims of the quest.

5. The Lady (2011)

Yeoh's skills don't entirely reside in the realm of martial arts and action cinema. She's also an accomplished dramatic actor and Luc Besson's The Lady, flawed though it is, gives Yeoh a rare leading showcase.

The Lady dramatises the political career of controversial politician Aung San Suu Kyi, one time state counsellor of Myanmar and a Nobel Prize laureate. The movie tracks Suu Kyi's rise from housewife to activist and beyond with Yeoh's inherent sense of impassioned dignity pulling us along.

In its depiction of one woman fighting for democracy (a figure whose public image has subsequently come to divide opinion), the movie was painted as stirring if simplistic. Nevertheless, Yeoh was largely praised.

6. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Yeoh is able to humanize and deepen that worst of archetypes, the mother-in-law-from-hell, in this emotive and delightful culture clash comedy-drama.

Based on the novel of the same name, Crazy Rich Asians was lauded on its release for its dedication to authentic casting and script observation. Truth be told, it really works because it's a good old-fashioned crowdpleaser that individuals of every stripe can relate to.

Constance Wu is the empathetic Rachel who discovers that her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) actually belongs to a stunningly wealthy family. Rachel's desire for acceptance is continually beset by the sneering and ice-cold machinations of Yeoh's Eleanor, a calculating presence but one who is acting in the interests of family history.

If Eleanor is outwardly hateful, Yeoh works hard to signal the character's hard-scrabble fight that has led her towards the position of matriarch, and how this has subsequently compelled her to close ranks. It's a sign of how a fine actor can rescue a character from imminent cliche.

7. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings (2021)

Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings remains one of their most enjoyable Phase Four movies. Liberated from franchise baggage by virtue of its unfamiliar characters (at least to those who haven't read the Shang-Chi comics), the movie retains a zippy air of wonderment and excitement.

Simu Liu is the titular Shang-Chi, a young man who turned his back on a dark destiny laid down by his father, the sinister Wenwu/Mandarin (the superb Tony Leung). However, Shang-Chi cannot escape his past so easily and father and son soon find themselves on a collision course.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton's movie emerges into a new realm of visual splendour when Shang-Chi and his allies permeate Ta Lo, the mystical village for which Wenwu has long been searching. Yeoh makes a strong impression asthe noble  Ying Nan, Shang-Chi's aunt who schools him in the art of emotional and psychological discipline during a sequence that openly styles itself on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.


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