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Martial Arts Movies Come Up Big at Oscars and Elsewhere

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Though martial arts cinema hasn't always been taken seriously in the movie industry, that changed this weekend as the genre-bending sci-fi/martial arts romp "Everything, Everywhere All at Once" and its lead actress, kung fu film veteran Michelle Yeoh, dominated at Sunday's Academy Awards. The tale of a harried, middle-aged, immigrant mother who suddenly finds herself traveling through dimensions as a martial arts superhero, "Everything" won seven Oscars including the awards for best picture, best actress, best director, best supporting actor and actress.

Though originally trained as a ballerina, Yeoh broke into movies working in Hong Kong kung fu films for which she diligently trained in martial arts and did many of her own stunts. Kung Fu movie legend Sammo Hung, who recalled giving Yeoh her start in the industry, meanwhile spent his weekend receiving the lifetime achievement honor at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong. Yeoh, perhaps best known to western audiences for her role in the 2001 Academy Award-nominated martial arts film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," commented to reporters Sunday on the glass ceiling for Asians in Hollywood, "I kung fu-ed it out and shattered it.”

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