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Michelle Yeoh Talks ‘Brothers Sun’ Fight Scenes, Brad Falchuk

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Michelle Yeoh cracked history open when she won an Oscar for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” last March, but she’s not sitting back to bask in the glow.

“I exercise every day,” she says. “I do my whole routine of being in shape and knowing my moves. When you are in shape and ready to strike, it’s not difficult.”

Yeoh is describing her process for a harrowing fight scene in her new series “The Brothers Sun,” out Jan. 4 on Netflix. But as a martial arts icon who has made her mark on some of the most influential action movies of all time — “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Supercop,” “Yes, Madam” — it’s no surprise she’s prepared for all comers.

Yeoh has kept moving since her Oscar win — appearing in “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” “A Haunting in Venice” and Disney+’s “American Born Chinese” in 2023 alone. Yet “Brothers Sun” is the project that will speak most directly to fans of “Everything Everywhere.” In the series, ruthless Taipei gangster Charles Sun (Justin Chien) travels to L.A. to protect his mother, Eileen (Yeoh), who fled the triad with her younger son, Bruce (Sam Song Li), an average 20-something clueless to the family business.

Along with complex and inventive fight scenes, the series is buoyed by its humor — Bruce gets a fish-out-of-water introduction to the world of organized crime — and its heart, as the Suns fend for each other despite their clashing lifestyles. Eileen is a caring mother who also harbors ambitions of once again ruling the underworld. Yeoh says she created the multidimensional matriarch by making an in-character diary and collaborating closely with the show’s creators, Brad Falchuk and Byron Wu.

“They’re always an e-mail away,” Yeoh says. “And I’m like, ‘Sit down with me, please. Let’s go through this because once we do, it will be so easy on the day. You will get the emotions that you need from me.’”

Another upside of working with super-producer Falchuk (“Glee,” “Pose”) is that he’s a powerful ally in pushing for equality in the entertainment industry, a cause Yeoh has battled for throughout her career.

“For the last few years, I have been fighting for different roles and hoping to find the entry point into where we all deserve to have a seat at the table,” she says. “It’s only in the last couple of years that you see more and more of the Asian stories being told.

“And also, Brad Falchuk is not Asian, but he championed our story. I think the most important thing is how we embrace each other and help each other tell the narrative and the best stories so that we keep pushing these boundaries.”

Yeoh’s commitment extends to the set. For Chien, working with the legend was inspiring, but he says it was her compassion that made a lasting impression.

“Just by watching how she carried herself, I realized that you can be the best at your job and a wonderful actor, and you can still be a good human being,” he says. “You can still be kind and gracious, and that’s something that I plan on aspiring to in my journey.”

As for Yeoh, she’s already plotting her next move.

“We continue to push the envelope,” she says. “We already kicked that glass ceiling to hell, so we’re not thinking about that anymore. It’s just keeping the door open, the windows wide and giving each other a chance to tell, with each other, the best story.”


Yeoh’s Boldest Battles

The martial arts superstar has carried some of the most inventive action scenes put on film. Here are five key performances.

“Yes, Madam” (1985) — Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock deliver a master class in ass-kicking in the climactic showdown of this “girls with guns” classic.

“Supercop” (1992) — The actor risked life and limb in a chaotic chase scene where she dodges numerous attacks while clinging to a van before diving into (and bouncing off) a convertible.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000) — In an unforgettable duel with Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi), Yeoh’s Shu Lien wields countless weapons against the legendary Green Destiny sword.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (2021) — A brief, soulful spar between Ying Nan and her nephew Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) gave Marvel audiences a taste of “Crouching Tiger”-style fight scenes.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022) — A multiverse-spanning clash over a butt plug is as well choreographed as it is beautifully outrageous.

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