WCW: Michelle Yeoh


Right now, Michelle Yeoh is in Star Trek: Discovery (2017-) plus she was the ruling mother in Crazy Rich Asians (2018). But she’s best known as the queen of martial arts, having turned her ballet training from London’s Royal Academy into fighting skills for Hong Kong action films. Many of those movies are historical, so they qualify as frock flicks. Yeoh has also had success in several Hollywood historical films. And she’s still going, with a dozen films listed in-production on IMDB.com including voice work and the Avatar sequels. I’d love to see her in more frock flicks though, because, as she says of her work:

“I gravitate towards roles where women find strength in very difficult, uncompromising situations but maintain clarity in mind, discipline at heart, and a certain strength in spirit.”

And that’s fascinating to watch onscreen.





Fok Ming-Ming in Dynamite Fighters aka Zhong hua zhan shi (1987)

Michelle Yeoh - Dynamite Fighters aka Zhong hua zhan shi (1987)

An action film about the Chinese resistance after the 1930s Japanese invasion.



Lady Ko in Butterfly and Sword aka Xin liu xing hu die jian (1993)

Michelle Yeoh - Butterfly and Sword aka Xin liu xing hu die jian (1993)

Yeoh stars as a loyalist who attempts to keep an empire from being overthrown by a revolutionary group.

Yeoh places her roles in historical context, saying:

“If you read a lot of Chinese literature, there has always been very strong women figures — warriors, swordswomen — who defended honor and loyalty with the men. So, it’s not new to our culture — it’s always been very much a part of it. It’s good that now the Western audience would have a different image of the Chinese women.”


Siu Lin in Tai-Chi Master aka Tai gik Cheung Sam Fung (1993)

Michelle Yeoh - Tai-Chi Master aka Tai gik Cheung Sam Fung (1993)

Jet Li stars in this 12th-century set flick, & Michelle Yeoh was supposed to work with him again in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but he had to back out. They did reunite on screen in the fantasy flick The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008).


Yim Wing Chun in Wing Chun (1994)

Michelle Yeoh - Wing Chun (1994)

Her character is the legendary first master of Wing Chun kung fu, the martial art she used to protect her village.


Soong Ai-ling / Madam Kung in The Soong Sisters (1997)

Michelle Yeoh - The Soong Sisters (1997)

A fictionalized account of three American-educated Chinese sisters who married powerful politicians & businessmen in the period between World War I & II.



Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Michelle Yeoh - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Yes, I’ve only been able to really appreciate one martial arts film, & this is it! Something about the beautiful blend of story & action & cinematography, with, of course, stellar actors, just works like no other.


Mameha in Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Michelle Yeoh - Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Set in the 1930s with Oscar-winning costumes by Colleen Atwood.

Michelle Yeoh said of this film:

“Learning how to walk in a kimono was an art form in itself — if you didn’t learn to do it properly it was like dragging a dead cat across the floor! We had to walk with a piece of paper between your knees and a tea tray balanced on your head.”



Mrs. Wang in The Children of Huang Shi (2008)

Michelle Yeoh - The Children of Huang Shi (2008)

Yeoh plays an aristocratic survivor of the 1930s Japanese occupation of China who helps a British journalist & Australian nurse save a group of orphaned children.



Dr. Yu in True Legend aka Su Qi-er (2010)

Michelle Yeoh - True Legend aka Su Qi-er (2010)

Yeoh plays “the reclusive doctor Yu” who saves the main character so he can defeat the baddies in 1861 China.



Zeng Jing in Reign of Assassins aka Jian yu (2010)

Michelle Yeoh - Reign of Assassins aka Jian yu (2010)

This one is set in ancient China, & Michelle Yeoh stars as a skilled assassin “who finds herself in possession of a mystical Buddhist monk’s remains.”



Lotus in Marco Polo: One Hundred Eyes (2015) & Marco Polo (2016)

Michelle Yeoh - Marco Polo: One Hundred Eyes (2015)

A recurring role in the Netflix movie & series.



Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016)

Michelle Yeoh - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016)

In this sequel, Michelle Yeoh is the only main actor to reprise her role from from the first film.



What’s your favorite frock flick featuring Michelle Yeoh?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

11 Responses

  1. Michael McQuown

    Probably Wing Chun. But if you want a gut-grabbing movie, see producer/star Michelle Yeoh’s “Far North,” which creeps up on you and drive Sean Bean naked into the wintry blast.

  2. Susan Pola Staples

    I have 2 favourites Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha. Where did you stream The Soo Sisters? Wanted to see that since forever.

  3. SarahV

    Several points –

    1) Michelle Yeoh rules.
    2) Her storyline with Chow Yun Fat in Crouching Tiger was the heart and soul of that great movie. She”s an innkeeper. She’s a venerated, retired warrior. She has a great, former romance. She can still kick ass!
    3) She always seems to get beautiful costumes

    and lastly

    4) She fucking stole the movie in Crazy Rich Asians as the mighty Eleanor Young. I wanted a whole movie just about her.

  4. Sarah F

    Michelle Yeoh is one of those actresses where I will see a movie just because she’s in it.

  5. Maral

    I just cannot get over those terrible hairstyles in Memoirs. Having actual geiko and maiko hairstyles would not have made it ‘inaccessible’ to western audiences.

    Michelle Yeoh is fantastic, though, and I’ll watch her in pretty much anything.

    • Roxana

      Yeah, and that dance sequence with the snow! Even I could tell how wrong that was.

  6. Lily Lotus Rose

    Michelle Yeoh is one of the most beautiful women on planet earth!! I either didn’t know or forgot about her ballet training, but that makes total sense. Gotta vote for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, of course!

  7. Roxana

    Another vote for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon! I remember being totally taken aback the first time fighters took to the air. ‘Just go with it,’ I was told. So I did.