Michelle Yeoh found her girlhood dreams of ballet and dancing coming back to her full circle, as she flung herself deep into the realm of action films. “Yes, Madam” in 1985 marked her first major film appearance as a lead star, followed by a flowering ’90s decade with standout titles like “Police Story 3: Super Cop,” “Magnificent Warriors,” and “Wing Chun.” As Yeoh trained for her films, parallels between the two schools of physical movement she was adept at were hard to miss. “Audiences just see the punch going outwards in kung fu, but it has to come from within you first,” she told the South China Morning Post back when “Tai Chi Master” was released in 1993.
Though her background in ballet was a testament to her physical strength, Yeoh was not handed high-intensity action roles at the earliest stages of her career in Hong Kong’s industry. From the sidelines, she watched the boys perform what, to her, looked like “an elaborate, choreographed dance piece, except there’s no music,” she told The Independent. By her second film, she convinced the industry that she was as good an action star as the men, if not better. In 2000 came Ang Lee’s Oscar-nominated feature “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” which universal agreement contends is one of the best representations of Yeoh’s lyrical movements.
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