Yes, Madam! Introducing the new Michelle Yeoh tee from Girls on Tops × Letterboxd

It was time we took action on a Girls on Tops tee honoring Michelle Yeoh. 
It was time we took action on a Girls on Tops tee honoring Michelle Yeoh. 

To celebrate the arrival of the Girls on Tops × Letterboxd tee honoring Michelle Yeoh, Ella Kemp takes a dive into the data on the action star’s filmography. 

Michelle Yeoh could slice me in half and I’d say thank you.

—⁠Girls on Tops model Iana Murray 

Mother is here, and she knows you’ve been watching. Michelle Yeoh has been breaking boundaries and defying convention for over four decades, and the Letterboxd community has certainly been keeping track. In light of your love for her work, today we launch our collaboration with Girls on Tops on a Michelle Yeoh t-shirt, to honor her leading role in Everything Everywhere All At Once, our highest-rated film of 2022.

Photographer… Ella Kemp/​Girls on Tops
Photographer… Ella Kemp/​Girls on Tops

Started by a collective of friends in 2017, Girls on Tops have been honoring female filmmakers in the time-honored fashion of band t-shirts, with proceeds going towards funding female-led film projects and commissioning female-led film writing. Past honorees include Greta Gerwig, Jane Campion, Nia DaCosta, Lynne Ramsey and so many more. Now, it is Yeoh’s time. 

For the occasion, we took a dive into the Letterboxd data to track some interesting stats, reviews and lists related to Yeoh’s work. Although EEAAO remains her highest-rated film of the 2020s—and overall—with a cool 4.4-out- of-five-star average, progress has not been straightforward. The 1980s gave us the gloriously explosive Royal Warriors, the actor’s most popular film of the decade, coming in at a 3.7 from the off. But curiously, a different title is the one the community returns to from those ten years: 1985 Hong Kong action film Yes, Madam! is one of Yeoh’s most rewatched works. 

The rewatches get more obsessive as time goes on, even though all of Yeoh’s greatest films remain celebrated without a linear progression as far as numbers are concerned. In 1997, Yeoh played secret agent Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies opposite Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond, and while the film may not be the most beloved Bond today, through Yeoh’s character there was a sense of change in the air.

“Michelle Yeoh is never subordinated to Pierce Brosnan in either strength or intelligence,” writes ScreeningNotes. “The women in the film are always at least as capable as their male counterparts, if not more so.” It was a turning point for the franchise, finally looking back on how women had been considered in the 007 universe, Yeoh politely correcting their misconceptions. Danny agrees that Yeoh “steals the show”, which comes as no surprise today, and maybe explains the 8,000 rewatches of the distinctly average Bond. 

Photographer… Ella Kemp/​Girls on Tops
Photographer… Ella Kemp/​Girls on Tops

Yeoh never forgets her roots or neglects where she came from, and neither do her fans. In 1993 she played Jessica Yang, out to stop a gang of thieves, in Stanley Tong’s romp of an action picture, Supercop 2. 75 percent of all reviews of the film on Letterboxd mention Yeoh, nodding to her returning character from Police Story 3: Supercop and the fine moves she came to be known for alongside her co-star Jackie Chan in the latter film. “Being a suitor to Michelle Yeoh should require passing a mandatory physical exam that includes beating her in a fight,” writes Daxtreme of the obvious appeal of the film, before warning: “Good luck with that.” 

Yeoh’s wuxia era did, of course, pave the way for all the awards now rightfully coming her way: her most rewatched film of the 2000s is, of course, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’s a performance of microexpressions and maximalist action, laying the blueprint for action heroes of today and always keeping the years of Hong Kong action movies close to her heart. And I think that Girls on Tops model and Letterboxd bestie Iana Murray says it best: “Michelle Yeoh could slice me in half and I’d say thank you.”

Photographer… Ella Kemp/​Girls on Tops
Photographer… Ella Kemp/​Girls on Tops

Some might feel a little uneasy that Yeoh is only being showered with widespread praise now, when she’s been consistently working for decades, always deserving it. But I find it telling that on Letterboxd, only five percent of reviews of Crazy Rich Asians mention Yeoh, and surprisingly it’s only, again, five percent when it comes to Everything Everywhere All At Once. Of course, the film simply couldn’t exist without her, but the fact that Yeoh is mentioned in 74 percent of reviews of Magnificent Warriors, 64 percent for Royal Warriors and 60 percent for Wing Chun, gives hope that the journey is always being revisited, not just the destination we find ourselves at now. 

Another fine example of this comes from a trend noticed by our West Coast editor and Best in Show co-host Mia Vicino, dubbed “the heart rate”, in which we dig a little deeper into the ratio of watches-to-likes to see just how many films have hit the sweet spot for Letterboxd members beyond formal reviews-and-ratings. And once more, Yeoh’s earlier work far surpasses the pre-EEAAO Hollywood era, with Royal Warriors, Yes, Madam!, The Heroic Trio and Magnificent Warriors leaving the Bonds and Crazy Rich Asians in the dust. HK forever! 

Sisters show love for sisters with the Michelle Yeoh tee.  — Photographer… Ella Kemp/​Girls on Tops
Sisters show love for sisters with the Michelle Yeoh tee.  Photographer… Ella Kemp/​Girls on Tops

Of course, the current wave of love for Yeoh is bonded tightly with the empathetic call for attention to loved ones infused through the Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once, the film that gave the action star her long-awaited multiverse moment. “Walked out of the theater talking about when we could see it again and feeling really thankful for the love in my life,” wrote Demi Adejuyigbe after seeing the eleven-times Oscar-nominated sci-fi tax comedy back in March 2022.

It’s a love that has only grown in the ensuing year, with every award, every rewatch, and this new tee. We’re lucky to have so many ways to keep celebrating Michelle Yeoh every day.

Everything Everywhere All at Once’ is back in select US theaters ahead of the 95th Acacemy Awards, via A24. A 4K restoration of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ is also screening in select theaters, via Sony Pictures Classics. 

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