There’s only one person that could portray the family matriarch in Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians. That character walks with an aura of invincibility around her—she’s a woman of power, someone who demands respect wherever she goes. The only actress who could portray those qualities is Michelle Yeoh.

For over thirty years, this former dancer turned action hero, turned United Nations ambassador has been a symbol of pride and respect for both women and Asian culture. Coming into the business in the early-to-mid 1980s, she was not a trained martial artist, but you could never tell by seeing her dodge, punch, kick, and otherwise dominate on-screen opponents. She was the face of the “girls with guns” subgenre of Hong Kong action cinema, a lead in one of the most respected wuxia films of the last quarter century, and even in the last year, this extraordinary woman continued to make history by being cast as the first Asian woman to command a starship in Star Trek: Discovery. In honor of her birthday and to celebrate the release of the first Hollywood, non-period piece to feature an all-Asian cast in twenty-five years (about damn time), it is our pleasure to highlight the career of the queen of Hong Kong action cinema: the iconic Michelle Yeoh.

For more iconic women in film, check out our highlights on Ava DuVernay, Lucille Ball, Jane Campion, Tessa Thompson, Aubrey Plaza, and Jennifer Connelly. And as always, check out our latest editorials, with videos like The Coen Brothers Embrace Silence, Kurosawa Who?, and How Barry Jenkins Crafts Style.