The magical trajectory of Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh has her name in the hat as a possible Oscar nominee for her amazing turn in the 2022 release  Everything Everywhere All At Once.  Yeoh stars in the film, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, which time trips from dimension to dimension like a hipster version of string theory.

Yeoh has already been a familiar name for decades to an ever increasing number of fans. Don’t begin to guess at the talent five-foot four-inch Yeoh possesses. 

If you want to talk about actors performing their own incredible stunts go no further than the time Yeoh drove a motorcycle onto the top of a moving train.

Beginnings

Yeoh won the Miss Malaysia competition in 1983 and parlayed that into a unique film career. While her breakout role as Inspector Ng in Yes, Madam (1985) was a success it was Police Story 3 from 1992 that would bring her notice in English speaking territories.

Miramax’s satellite unit Dimension Films released a dubbed version retitled Supercop in 1996. It was a time when the star of the Police Story series Jackie Chan was being courted by the distributors of that era. New Line would release Chan’s Rumble in the Bronx,” also directed by Supercop’s helmer Stanley Tong, two years later.

Yeoh then went by Khan her initial stage name pronounced Chan. In an interview conducted as part of a round robin print media press tour for the domestic release of Supercop Yeoh recalls how she had actually retired in the late ‘80s after marriage.

“For me personally it was a second chance to get back into the industry,” says Yeoh. “You take a break for three or four years and it’s a long time, people come and people go and you get forgotten.”

“You have a lot of fans in Asia that are waiting for your return,” Tong, also present, adds.

In successive years Yeoh would appear in such hits as Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Motorcycle

Yeoh had already performed stunts in previous films but none as precisely timed as the motorcycle-to-train-top leap.

Supercop includes an end credit roll blooper scene showing an opposite angle of the stunt when Yeoh misses her mark and goes tumbling off the train and onto numerous piled up boxes and stunt mattresses along the ground.

There’s a ramp that runs parallel to the train and you simply drive off and onto the train. One minor detail, Yeoh had never driven a motorcycle.

“There were two stunt men who would work with me every day to get me back into the groove and the passion for this kind of movie,” says Yeoh. “You don’t want anything to cloud your judgement.”

In pre-production Tong was explaining the sequence of events from Jackie leaping off a skyscraper onto a helicopter ladder and then the train stunt. 

“I’m like ‘Wait I want to jump to the helicopter ladder,’” says Yeoh.

“They told me ‘you can’t do the helicopter, if you do the helicopter what is Jackie going to do?’

“When you see the movie it’s fun and exciting. You know I am fine. If something had gone wrong you would’ve heard about it in the press.

“But if you there on the set at the moment we are shooting you can feel the tension. Nobody knows what could mess up,” says Yeoh.

“We’re there with trains, explosions, the full works for four weeks. We were causing traffic jams you can’t even imagine, says Yeoh.

“For two weeks I practiced with stunt men. When I first got to the location it was quite a fall.”

The scene would be shot four times.

‘You have pads on the essential parts of your body, but I banged up my leg on the second take. Stanley had seen me crash, and it was painful. ‘Are you sure you’re okay’ and it’s like yeah let’s go. Jackie was on the other side of the train.

“You go for it, and when it happens perfectly as planned you still have to realize you are on a train and you can’t just walk off.”

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