For years, Michelle Yeoh has been considered one of the most talented and fascinating actresses on the international stage, taking part in everything from all-time great action movies all over the world to Academy Award winners that are unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. With so many eyes being on the Malaysian actress following the success of Everything Everywhere All at Once, now seems like the perfect time to take a step back and look at the great roles she has played throughout her career, one that has spanned decades, genres, and markets, creating a legacy like no other.
Here are 12 great Michelle Yeoh movies that are either available on various streaming platforms or can be rented or purchased online. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get started with this remarkable journey…
Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)
Directed by The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), Everything Everywhere All at Once is one of those rare movies that come along every decade or so and completely revolutionize the way we think about cinema. This mind-bending multiversal adventure, which was at times absurdly funny while others incredibly emotional, tells the story of Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese-American immigrant whose laundromat, marriage, and relationship with her daughter is falling apart. Just when it seems like life couldn’t get any worse for the woman being audited by the IRS, Evelyn discovers that she is the key to the survival of the multiverse. Talk about pressure.
By blending elements of kung fu, drama, sci-fi, and every other genre under the sun, the Daniels created a rich, unique, and iconic tour de force that we’ll be talking about for years to come. And a lot of that is due to the wonderful cast, especially the versatile performance by the now Academy Award-winning Michelle Yeoh.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (2021)
Following her appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Michelle Yeoh became one the actors who have played more than one character in the MCU with her portrayal of Ying Nan in 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. One of the best things about Phase 4, this martial arts-heavy comic book movie follows Shuan, a.k.a., Xu Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) as he uncovers his past, family legacy, and some awesome powers. Traveling from San Francisco to Macau to the hidden dimension of Ta Lo, Shang-Chi’s journey takes him far and wide as he prepares to battle his father, Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), the leader of the Ten Rings organization, who is also known as The Mandarin.
Though her character doesn’t show up until late in the movie, Yeoh makes the most of her time as Shang-Chi’s aunt, providing for some of the movie’s most touching scenes while also being a part of a few inventive action sequences in the magical land full of mythical creatures in Destin Daniel Cretton’s MCU debut.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Ang Lee’s martial arts masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became an international sensation upon its release in 2000 thanks to its poignant story of Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), two prolific warriors in 19th Century China who're afraid to express their love for one another because they feel bound by loyalty to Shu Lien’s deceased fiancé who was Mu Bai’s best friend. But, the two may never get a chance to reveal their true feelings after a ghost from the past reappears, bringing deception and death with them.
With beautifully-choreographed fight sequences that make the characters feel like they're out of an epic fantasy, and a poignant story about loss and love, it's easy to see why Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon remains such a treasure more than 20 years after its release.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
When Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is invited to join her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), at his best friend’s wedding in Singapore, she quickly realizes there is a lot about him that she does not know, specifically his family’s wealth and opulent lifestyle. If dealing with jealous eyes pining for her boyfriend isn’t bad enough, Rachel must also prove herself to Nick’s overbearing and disapproving mother, Eleanor Sung-Young (Michelle Yeoh).
The glitz, glamor, pomp, and circumstance of Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians makes the 2018 romantic comedy a feast for the eyes, but the relationship between Rachel and Eleanor as it transforms from one that is bitter to one built on a mutual respect really sells the movie. That’s thanks, in part, to Michelle Yeoh’s commanding performance as the Young family matriarch.
Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)
One of the best Jackie Chan movies, 1992’s Police Story 3: Supercop (also known as Super Cop) follows police officer Chan Ka Kui (Chan) as he goes undercover in a Chinese prison in order to infiltrate a drug cartel. After earning the group’s trust, Ka Kui and another undercover agent known as Jessica Yang (Michelle Yeoh) travel to Hong Kong in order to bring the whole operation down and bring its leaders to justice.
Police Story 3: Supercop is mostly remembered for some of Jackie Chan’s best stunts and fight scenes, but a lot of the great action sequences involve the skill and nerves of Michelle Yeoh who famously performed many of her own stunts, including landing a motorcycle on a moving train.
With the sun at risk of going out and bringing the end to all life on Earth, a group of scientists are sent on a last-ditch mission to fire off a device that could potentially rekindle the flame of the dying star. This seemingly impossible task becomes all the more difficult after the crew discover a distress beacon.
Danny Boyle’s 2007 sci-fi thriller, Sunshine, has one of the most impressive casts you’ll see in the genre, including Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Benedict Wong, and Michelle Yeoh, who portrays the spiritual botanist, Corazon, aboard Icarus II.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) comes face-to-face with one of his most sadistic and well-connected enemies yet in Tomorrow Never Dies, perhaps the best of Brosnan’s 007 movies, when he is sent to find out how and why Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) and his powerful Carver Media Group Network know all the breaking news before it even happens.
Michelle Yeoh became perhaps the most badass “Bond Girl” of the Pierce Brosnan era in Tomorrow Never Dies with her portrayal of Chinese MSS spy Wai Lin who helps 007 prevent Elliot Carver from tricking the world into kicking off a devastating military conflict. Whether she's standing as Bond's equal, taking on multiple people at once in awesome fight scenes, or guiding a motorcycle through a congested city, Yeoh showed the world she wasn't to be messed with.
Magnificent Warriors (1987)
Set in 1930s Japanese-occupied China, Magnificent Warriors tells the story of Fok Ming-ming (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese pilot and adventurer who leads a group of resistance fighters to take out the foreign invaders through any means necessary.
David Chung’s 1987 Hong Kong action classic could be compared to the adventures shown in Raiders of the Lost Ark, though instead of Harrison Ford fighting Nazis and searching for mythical treasures you have Michelle Yeoh flying fighter planes, kicking all kinds of ass, and attempting to free her people from Japanese forces.
Memoirs Of A Geisha (2005)
The 2005 Academy Award-winning drama Memoirs of a Geisha follows Chiyo Sakamoto as she goes from a young girl (Suzuka Ohgo) sold to a Geisha house in early 20th Century Japan to the elegant Sayuri Nitta (Ziyi Zhang), following a life of intense training and abuse by the house’s elders. Along the way, Chiyo encounters everyone from the beautiful yet cruel Hatsumomo (Gong Li), to reluctant mother figure Mameha (Michelle Yeoh), among others.
Much like she would do in Crazy Rich Asians more than a decade later, Michelle Yeoh steps in as a stern mother figure in Memoirs of a Geisha, who, despite seeming cold, distant, and bothered by Chiyo, cares deeply for the girl. In this character, Chiyo finds one of her greatest tests and sets out to prove herself and earn the trust and respect of Mameha, which is no easy task.
Yes, Madam! (1985)
After a man in possession of incriminating microfilm is murdered on the streets of Hong Kong, it is up to Inspector Ng (Michelle Yeoh) and Scottish investigator Carrie Morris (Cynthia Rothrock) to get to the bottom of the case and bring those responsible to justice.
One of Michelle Yeoh’s earliest leading roles, Yes, Madam! showed Hong Kong cinema and the rest of the world just what she was capable of achieving with her acting and martial arts abilities. While not as well known as some of the Hong Kong action films she made in the early 1990s, Yeoh’s work here should not be overlooked.
Wing Chun (1994)
Yip Wing Chun (Michelle Yeoh) is a hard-hitting practitioner of the martial arts and tofu stand operator who becomes an unlikely hero when a group of bandits barges into her town and treats it like their personal playground and piggy bank. But, when one of her nearest and dearest friends is abducted by the menacing force, the fearless hero does everything in her power to make the gang pay.
One of the best parts about Wing Chun is the fact that Michelle Yeoh’s character masters martial arts at a very young age as a way to fight off men trying to force her hand in marriage. This strong, independent character, who surrounds herself with equally heroic women, takes matters into her own hands at every turn.
Reign Of Assassins (2010)
Years after taking up an assumed identity to protect the remains of a legendary Buddhist monk, a lethal assassin by the name of Drizzle (Michelle Yeoh) is forced to confront her past when her former partners-in-crime return with a series of demands.
Just as was the case earlier in her career, Reign of Assassins gave Michelle Yeoh yet another opportunity to prove why she is one of the most respected and hardest working martial artists/actors of her time. This epic story has multiple great fight scenes and an intricate plot that puts it right up there with Yeoh’s previous work.
BONUS: Star Trek: Discovery (2017 - Present)
This list is supposed to be about movies, and Star Trek: Discovery is a show, but the Paramount+ original is just too good to not be included here. Taking place 10 years before the classic Star Trek TV series, the streaming show tells the story of the crew of the USS Discovery as they explore the far reaches of space and even the Mirror Universe and its unexplained wonders.
The inclusion of the Mirror Universe in Star Trek: Discovery is what allows Michelle Yeoh to play two versions of the same character: the warmer Philipaa Georgiou and her more ruthless counterpart who is a tyrannical emperor in her own dimension (and is set to get her own series), which is perfect for an actor with the skills possessed by Yeoh.
It is easy to see just why Michelle Yeoh is so respected in practically every part of the world with her dynamic fighting skills and stunt work, as well as her acting skills that only seem to get better as the years go on. And with multiple upcoming projects in the works, it won’t be long until we see Yeoh on the screen once again in some of the most highly anticipated 2023 movies and beyond.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.