Stuntwomen: Michelle Yeoh in Ah Kam

“Ah Kam” “(阿金 的故事” or “阿金”) is a 1996 film directed by Ann Hui about the life of a Hong Kong woman (Michelle Yeoh) who, for a period in her life, works as a stunt woman in the movie industry.   It is this aspect of the film – the strong, beautiful stunt woman Michelle Yeoh playing a strong, beautiful stunt woman – that keeps people coming back.

I wish the whole movie was good.  This review of the film by Neil at HK Filmnet reflects my own opinion.  However, “Ah Kam” pleases movie nerds like me because it is a fascinating glimpse into the world of Hong Kong movie making, including the dangers of heavy-handed triad involvement, action choreography, and of course stunt injuries.

Michelle Yeoh fell and broke her back during the making of “Ah Kam”.  The end credits of the film are dedicated to showing her being gingerly examined and carried to a van.  For the sake of my Western friends who might be curious to know what the end placard says, I have translated it below.

Ah Kam -1996 - Michelle Yeoh injury - end credits“On October 13, 1995 while shooting an action scene for “The Story of Ah Kam”, Michelle Yeoh fell from a high place and was seriously injured…. This film is dedicated to her and to all stunt people who bring excitement and action to movies.”

Feel free to correct my translation.  Anyway, the point is that Ann Hui, choreographer Ching Siu Tung and company were all pretty horrified by what happened to Ms. Yeoh.  And they seem to have felt that they needed to make a public statement about it.  The “Ah Kam” end credits are similar to Jackie Chan blooper outtakes, except they’re not funny.

It’s appalling to see a woman as strong and beautiful as Michelle Yeoh so seriously injured.  I know this will sound stupid but I had always just thought of her as an invulnerable super-woman; some kind of impervious, lofty goddess.  In my mind, the international superstar was so awesome and perfect that she wasn’t human like the rest of us.   Seeing the end credits of “Ah Kam” changed everything for me.  When I saw her lying there – unable to move, fragile, vulnerable, so very small, and completely stoic in the face of what was probably enormous pain – I suddenly realized, derp, she is not a goddess.  She is a human being who happens to be completely remarkable.  I have a huge new-found respect and love for Michelle Yeoh.

It took her about a year to recover from the broken back.  But she returned to film in 1997 as a Bond girl in “Tomorrow Never Dies”.  Even though her request to do the dangerous stunt work was denied by the director, she is still the coolest, most ass-kicking Bond Girl of all time.  Jesus H, after such a severe injury, very few people could get back on that horse.  This makes me admire her even more.

Michelle Yeoh has enormous balls.  She is resilient, tough, beautiful, intelligent, confident and brave.  She has all the attributes of… a goddess.

And that’s all I gots to say about it.

 

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