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Asian actors who have made Hollywood their mainstay

Everybody may not like America but everybody would love to be there. And this is more so true for the world of cinema. Not all of them would explicitly express their wish to be part of the American film industry but the lure is too strong to deny.

Besides, it's not just money but also the availability of top-notch infrastructure that pushes the boundaries of filmmaking to another level. No wonder, over the years, not just Asian technicians but also several actors from the East have plied their trade in Hollywood. With the tribe increasing steadily, hitlist rounds off those who have left a mark on American films.

Chow Yun Fat
Chow Yun Fat
Nationality:
Chinese
Lowdown: When director John Woo moved to Los Angeles in 1992, Chow was one of the earliest adopters of American cinema. After his hit film, The Replacement Killers (1998) and Bulletproof Monk (2003), he starred in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007).

Ken Watanabe
Ken Watanabe
Nationality:
Japanese
Lowdown: He held his own against Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai (2003) and thanks to his irresistible talent, he later starred in Hollywood behemoths, such as Batman Begins (2005), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), Inception (2010) and most recently, Godzilla (2014).

Gong Li
Gong Li
Nationality:
Chinese
Lowdown: Once voted the most beautiful woman in China, Gong is known for attending film festivals across the world. A popular figure in Hollywood, she was appreciated for her part opposite Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx in Miami Vice (2006) and Hannibal Rising the following year.

Shu Qi
Shu Qi
Nationality:
Taiwanese
Lowdown: Making her Hollywood entry with The Transporter (2002), she raised eyebrows as well as standards with her bold acts in American productions. However, so far, her finest performance came across in a segment of New York, I Love You (2008).

Choi Min Sik
Choi Min Sik
Nationality:
South Korean
Lowdown: In 2003, Choi bombarded the film world with an epic performance in Oldboy. Known for his choosiness, he was later acclaimed for Lady Vengeance (2005) and I Saw the Devil (2010). This year, he finally made his Hollywood debut in Lucy, opposite Scarlett Johansson.

Ziyi Zhang
Ziyi Zhang
Nationality:
Chinese
Lowdown: After her breakthrough performance in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ziyi has had a constant presence in American films. In 2001, she starred in Rush Hour 2 and then in 2005, she played a blue-eyed geisha in Memoirs of a Geisha and Horsemen (2009), opposite Dennis Quaid.

Hiroyuki Sanada
Hiroyuki Sanada
Nationality:
Japanese
Lowdown: The Last Samurai proved to be his breakpoint. Eventually, he consequentially appeared in English director Danny Boyle's Sunshine (2007), Rush Hour 3 (2008) and in recent memory, movies including The Wolverine, The Railway Man and 47 Ronin in 2013.

Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh
Nationality:
Malaysian
Lowdown: Although she was a Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Michelle is best remembered for her work in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Currently shooting for its sequel, her filmography boasts of a steady balance of Asian as well as American films.

Lee Byung Hun
Lee Byung Hun
Nationality:
South Korean
Lowdown: After earning accolades for A Bittersweet Life (2005) and The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008), Lee made his Hollywood debut as Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) and then later GI Joe: Retaliation (2013). He's part of Terminator 5 as well.

Jet Li
Jet Li
Nationality:
Chinese
Lowdown: The action star has been a part of all the three editions of The Expendables franchise. However, he caught Hollywood's attention with Romeo Must Die (2000). Throughout his film career, Jet has starred in remarkable Chinese martial art films.

Li Bingbing
Li Bingbing
Nationality:
Chinese
Lowdown: Often labelled the hottest American import from China, Li is shifting gears with signing up for more Hollywood films than Chinese. Her recent ventures include Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) and more recently, Transformers: Age of Extinction and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

 

Game changers

Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee
Contrary to popular beliefs, Bruce was an American by birth. However, he insisted on making Hong Kong-based films — that highlighted Chinese nationalism — arousing the West’s interest in marital arts. A majority of his films were Hollywood productions though.

Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan
In his attempt to move away from the huge shadow cast by Bruce, Jackie combined martial arts with humour. After a series of Chinese films, Rumble in the Bronx (1995) marked his Hollywood entry while Rush Hour (1998) made him a household name in the USA.  

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