Wai Lin: China’s 007
Introduced in the 1997 Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, Colonel Wai Lin is a formidable Chinese agent embodied by acclaimed Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh. The character stands out as a resilient and sharp-witted agent who approaches her role with a level of dedication that commands respect.
Wai Lin serves actively in the Chinese People’s External Security Force as a Colonel. Renowned for her martial arts expertise, she emerges as a formidable figure and a competitive ally for Bond.
Her path collides with James Bond’s for the first time as she delves undercover, taking on the persona of a New China News Agency reporter.
She’s awarded the mission to discover the disappearance of stealth technology from a People’s Liberation Army base, which is intriguingly linked to media tycoon Elliot Carver‘s stratagem to instigate conflict between China and the United Kingdom.
As the intricate web of events unfolds, Wai Lin uncovers the reality that MI6 has deployed Bond on the same investigation. Initially, a misunderstanding arises where they both presume their missions involve killing the other, but this misconception dissipates over time.
Both Wai Lin and Bond run into each other of the coast of Vietnam, but are both captured by Stamper and whisked away to Carver’s headquarters in Saigon. Despite the challenge of being cuffed together, Bond and Lin ingeniously escape and steal a motorcycle, and are chased through the bustling streets of Saigon.
Soon, they find themselves at the mercy of one of Carver’s helicopter. Still, with some quick thinking, Bond seizes a cable, hurls it towards the chopper’s tail rotor, and speed under it, causing the helicopter to crash.
Later, while sharing a steamy shower, Bond believes he is on the verge of charming Wai Lin. But, she proves more cunning, detaching her handcuff and fastening Bond to a pipe before heading off, asserting her preference for working solo.
Not long after, a gang of thugs launch an attack on Lin, but she skillfully dispatches them all before Bond can rush to her aid. After this, they choose to collaborate in their pursuit of Carver’s stealth boat. Replenishing their weaponry from Lin’s stash of equipment, Bond admires and appropriates her Walther P-99 pistol as his new weapon of choice.
Now working together, they proceed towards Carver’s stealth ship, planning to plant a series of explosives that would disrupt its radar shield, enabling the Navy to pinpoint its location. As the bombs detonate, Lin is seized by Carver, but Bond eludes them and infiltrates the vessel.
Carver, full of hubris, invites them onto his private vessel, boasting about his future media dominance after obtaining exclusive coverage rights to the looming war, triggered by his ship launching projectiles at a British craft.
At the crucial moment, Wai Lin defies the odds and creates a diversion that gives Bond the advantage, allowing him to neutralize the missiles, kill Carver, and flee with Wai Lin as the ship collapses into self-destruction.
Finally, the obvious attraction they had suppressed during their mission overpowers them, and they become lovers as the film ends.
Born on August 6, 1962, Michelle Yeoh Choo Kheng, is a renowned Malaysian actress recognized for her roles in action and martial arts movies. After an injury thwarted her ballet dreams, she shifted her focus to arts, winning the Miss Malaysia World contest in 1983.
Her acting career launched with Hong Kong’s D&B Films, where she performed most of her own stunts under the stage name Michelle Khan. After a hiatus due to marriage, she returned to acting and rose to international fame as Wai Lin in James Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).
Her success continued with roles in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), and TV series such as Star Trek: Discovery (2016). In 2021, she starred in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the film Everything Everywhere All at Once, earning her a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. She currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland with her fiancé Jean Todt.