CBN Friday Special丨Michelle Yeoh and her multi-universe

China Business Now李莹亮 2023-03-17 20:35


In a stunning victory, Michelle Yeoh took home the trophy for best actress at the 2023 Oscars on Sunday. The 60-year-old actress made history as the first Asian American to win the category and the first woman of color to receive the award in two decades, following Halle Berry, who was the first Black woman and woman of color to win the Academy Award in 2002 and presented Yeoh with her history-making win.

“To all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities,” Yeoh said in her acceptance speech. “This is proof that dream big and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime.”

Michelle Yeoh, an iconic name in Chinese cinema, defeated formidable contenders, including two-time winner Cate Blanchett and five-time nominee Michelle Williams, to take home the prestigious award for her extraordinary performance in the multi-universal comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once

The film swept the Oscars with a total of seven awards, including for best picture and best director, making it the biggest winner of the night. The Malaysian-born actress plays a struggling laundromat owner Evelyn who ends up being the savior of the multiverse, from a master chef to a wuxia warrior to a glamorous movie star who bears a striking resemblance to Michelle Yeoh herself. 

It requires her to play broad comedy, melodramatic pathos, and every other emotional state under the sun, as well as tapping into her well-honed martial arts skills.  

Both Daniels, the writer-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, had written the role of Evelyn with Yeoh specifically in mind, as the character was very much formed around Yeon’s identity, her life experience. 

Imagine somewhere, in one of the gazillion strands of the cat’s cradle of multiverses, there is a world in which Michelle Yeoh does not start ballet lessons at the age of four. The Malaysian actor decides not go to England to study dance, with every intention of becoming a prima ballerina one day, and avoids suffering a back injury that forces her to abandon her dream. The alt-universe Yeoh in question then does not enter a beauty contest and win. A good friend of hers doesn’t bother to pass Michelle’s picture to a producer. No one offers this version of Yeoh a contract. Hence she does not become an action-movie icon during Hong Kong’s wild-and-crazy gonzo-cinema Golden Age. There are no late-’90s Bond movies, no instant-classic turns in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, no scene-stealing turns in Marvel movies or as future mother-in-laws armed with withering put-downs. And most definitely, no projects that would involve the star engaging in elaborate combat scenes in the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Luckily, we have been blessed to exist in a here and now in which everything, everywhere has gone exactly as it needed to. And the years of ballet training Yeon took enabled her to stand out as an action movie actress, in the golden days of Hong Kong cinemas featuring Kung Fu. 

As Yeon recalls, one thing that had caught her eye while she was on set were the action sequences. The more she watched the stunt choreographers stage the knock-down, drag-out fight scenes, the more she began to pick up on the rhythms behind every punch and kick. “It was like watching someone choreograph a dance,” she says.

Yeoh spent the next few years working her way up the Hong Kong cinema ladder, before marrying Dickson Poon and saying she was quitting acting in 1988 to start a family. After she and the producer divorced in 1992, her first film back was Supercop — which gave her equal billing with Jackie Chan and featured the motorcycle stunt that instantly coronated her as action movie royalty. In the Hong Kong action-comedy, Yeon played an Interpol inspector, and her role included truly harrowing stunt work, such as landing a motorcycle on a moving train, and in a few takes, dangerously skidding off of it.

For the next five years, she was on a roll; ironically, it was a film called The Stunt Woman, the story of an immigrant who breaks into the Chinese film industry by becoming an actor who does all her own stunts. Executing a drop off an overpass onto mattresses in a passing truck, Yeoh hit the padding at the wrong angle, and ended up hospitalized with serious injuries. It was a far more serious injury than the one that had stopped her budding career as a dancer, and prompted her to once again consider hanging things up altogether. 

Legend has it that a visit from Quentin Tarantino, who proceeded to quote her filmography back to her while she was recovering, that made her think she was not quite done yet.

The so-called “female Jackie Chan” began to wear the bruises on her limbs like they were badges of pride. After carving a niche for herself in action cinema in Hong Kong, Yeoh made her Hollywood debut in Tomorrow Never Dies.  By the time the producers of the 1997 James Bond film came calling, Yeoh was ready to return. Yeoh played one of the most powerful Bond women, an equal to 007 in terms of smarts and strength.  

She gained international recognition for her role as a swordswoman in Ang Lee's iconic film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which won three Oscars in 2001. Working with Ang Lee on his poetic 2000 crossover hit required her to supplement her decades of experience as a fighter onscreen with psychological depth. It changed everything, she now says. You can practically see Yeoh bloom onscreen, especially in her more dramatic scenes with costar Chow Yun-Fat. Now she was finally, in her own eyes, an actor. 

For the next few decades, Yeoh seemed, all at once, to be everywhere. You could find her in prestige-lit adaptations (Memoirs of a Geisha), sci-fi (Sunshine), animated kids’ flicks (Kung Fu Panda), studio tentpoles (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), biopics (The Lady), rom-coms (Last Christmas), TV shows (Marco Polo), and, of course, the occasional movie involving furious fists and flying feet. 

Her line reading of “You will never be enough” in the hugely successful Crazy Rich Asians is enough to chill anyone’s blood. She’s logged in not one but two characters in the Marvel Cinema Universe, became a major player in the Trekkie galaxy, thanks to a starring role in Star Trek: Discovery; and will be part of James Cameron’s in-progress Avatar-osphere. 

Yeoh is the film industry's darling for not only her jaw-dropping stunts in action blockbusters, but also her multifaceted performance in artistic works. 

Then Everything Everywhere All at Once seems to be specifically crafted for Yeoh because the movie reflects her decades-long efforts to raise the cultural significance of Asian-themed films worldwide. And while Yeoh has been an icon and prolific actress and stuntwoman for decades, her performance as Evelyn in the film garnered long-deserved accolades from Hollywood. 

Before the Academy Award, Yeoh had claimed many awards including a Golden Globe, an Independent Spirit Award, several local Film Critics Awards, a SAG Award and a BAFTA Award, as well as nominations for a Critics' Choice Award. Yeoh again made history at the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards when she became the first Asian woman to win Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor Leading Role.

Yeoh's historic win has caused a stir among her Chinese fans, with the news hashtag garnering over 430 million views on the popular microblogging platform Sina Weibo in just three hours.

Chinese fans said they were inspired by the hardworking actress' battle to rise to the top in the global film industry. Many called her a role model for demonstrating how a woman's ambitions is not limited by age.

“I have been lucky. Extremely lucky,” Yeon said in a recent interview, “but you need to work hard and the harder you work, the luckier you get. Opportunities present themselves if you’re lucky. If you don’t work hard, they go some place else. But sometimes, you work hard and they still go away. For Evelyn, she finally has an opportunity to realize that, there are all of these universes out there, but you live in this one — and you’d better appreciate what you have in it. And I got to help her realize that.”









离开了家人的羽翼,杨紫琼接到的一个角色是动作喜剧片《猫头鹰与小飞象》中的女教师,外表文弱,是当时不少选美出身的女演员的唯一选择——花瓶。但不甘被禁锢的杨紫琼,开始考虑如何在有限的规则空间下,拓出一条迥异于主流 “花瓶”的道路。





















在杨紫琼的多重宇宙里,出身世家从小以芭蕾舞为梦想,又因受伤、选美, 误打误撞进入了电影圈。出道40年,影视作品难以计数,已年届花甲的杨紫琼仍能保持纯真,不断勇敢向着未知出发。


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(作者:李莹亮 编辑:李艳霞)