Yeoh, Michelle

(née Yeoh Chu-kheng; Yeung Chi-king; Yang Ziqiong)
b. 6 August 1962, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Film actress
Michelle Yeoh (Michelle Khan in her first films), grew up in Malaysia speaking English and Malay; she later learned Cantonese and some Mandarin, but does not read Chinese. Yeoh studied dance and drama in college in England, became Miss Malaysia in 1983, and made her first movie in 1984. Her second, Yes, Madam! (Huangjia shijie, 1985), a policewoman-gangster picture, amplified Yeoh’s celebrity and inspired other Hong Kong action movies starring women. Yeoh made four more films, married, retired, divorced, and then came back to co-star alongside Jackie Chan in Supercop: Police Story III (Jingcha gushi III: Chaoji jingcha, 1992). This was directed by Stanley Tong, the former stuntman who helped Yeoh make her initial transition from dance to chop socky (Yeoh does her own impressive stunts). The imaginary heroines Yeoh has created include an invisible woman in Heroic Trio (Dongfang sanxia, 1992), a Ming-dynasty martial artist in Wing Chun (Yongchun, 1994) and the ‘Bond girl’ Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). She played Song Ailing in The Soong Sisters (Songjia huangchao, 1997).
In Wing Chun and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wohu canglong, 2000), Yeoh is teamed with Cheng Pei Pei (Zheng Peipei), one of Hong Kong’s first fighting females of film. In the latter, Yeoh plays the dignified, determined swordswoman Yu Shu Lien (Yu Xiulian), who comes across as both traditionally female and anachronistically feminist. In March 2003, Yeoh was reportedly preparing for the role of Hua Mulan, the most famous woman warrior of them all.
Lu, Sheldon H. and Chieko, Anne T. (2002). The Heroic Trio: Anita Mui, Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh—Self-Reflexivity and the Globalization of the Hong Kong Action Heroine’. In Sheldon Lu (ed.), China, Transnational Visuality, Global Postmodernity. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 122–38.
Williams, Tony (2001). ‘Michelle Yeoh: Under Western Eyes’. Asian Cinema 12.2 (Fall/Winter): 119–31.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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