Wai Lin (Chinese: 林慧; pinyin: Lín Huì) is a fictional character in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, portrayed by Michelle Yeoh. The character, the first ethnic Chinese Bond girl, has received critical acclaim, being widely regarded as one of the best Bond girls in the series.
|James Bond character|
|Portrayed by||Michelle Yeoh|
Kin-Yan Szeto, author of The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora: Ang Lee, John Woo, and Jackie Chan in Hollywood, wrote that the actress's "persona" was the "tough martial arts/action heroine [Yeoh] had established in Hong Kong cinema."
Wai Lin is a spy for the Chinese People's External Security Force in the rank of colonel and skilled in martial arts. She first encounters Bond when she is sent (under the disguise as a Xinhua News Agency reporter) to investigate the disappearance of stealth material from a People's Liberation Army base that is connected to media mogul Elliot Carver's plan to start a war between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom. She later learns that Bond was sent by MI-6 to work on the same case. The two initially believe they have been ordered to kill each other, but eventually develop a wary mutual trust when they are both captured and imprisoned by Carver's secret partner, General Chang (who was in charge of the military base where the stolen stealth materials for Carver's stealth boat originated from). Bond especially grows to respect her when she playfully, but firmly, rejects his attempts at seduction. Carver brings them both aboard his private ship to gloat that he will control the world's media after he gets exclusive coverage rights to the impending war, which will begin when the ship launches missiles at a British craft. At the last minute, however, Wai breaks free and creates a distraction that allows Bond to disable the missiles, kill Carver, and escape with her as the ship self-destructs. She and Bond then give in to the mutual attraction they had both been fighting during the mission, and become lovers.
Stephen Yiu-Wai Chu (朱耀偉), author of Lost in Transition: Hong Kong Culture in the Age of China, wrote that the film and its promotional materials "incessantly highlighted" the character's "Chineseness".
In the film's novelization by Raymond Benson, Wai Lin has an entire chapter devoted to introduce her character, detailing "her involvement with the Chinese People's External Security Force, her training, her skills, and many other facets of her life that made her a real person. Her relationship with Bond is also much more realistic."
In the 1999 video game adaptation of the film, Wai Lin is both a playable (Mission 9: Market District, Saigon) and a non-playable character (Mission 10: Stealth Boat, Ha Long Bay). A one/sixth scale action figure of her was released by Sideshow Collectibles in 2001.
In early scripts for Die Another Day, Wai Lin was to make a return, aiding Bond in Hong Kong (if this had happened, Wai Lin would have been only the second Bond Girl in history to appear in two films). However, this idea fell through so Wai Lin was replaced by Chinese Intelligence agent Mr. Chang (played by Ho Yi) in the finished film.
The character was very well received. After the film's release, Wai Lin proved so popular with fans and critics that MGM abortively considered developing a spin-off film based on her.[unreliable source?]
Life named Wai Lin the 11th best Bond girl of all time. In 2010, Entertainment Weekly ranked her as the seventh best Bond girl, calling this "savvy Chinese agent" one of the few "wom[e]n of color to match wits with 007" and "the first one you could take seriously." In 2012, the International Business Times included Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin among the top ten "most stunning" Bond girls of all time. She was also included on the list of the 20 best Bond girls by Virgin Media, who called her "an equal match for Bond", as well as on a similar list by 3MMM.
MensXP.com ranked the "sexy and stern at the same time" Wai Lin as the seventh top Bond girl of all time; Fandomania ranked her as the second best Bond girl, stating that she was "the right type of Bond Girl at the right point in action cinema’s evolution;" and Rope of Silicon ranked her as 20th, calling her "fantastic" and opining Yeoh "will never be forgotten as a one-time Bond girl." UGO.com noted that "Bond actually grows to respect the Chinese agent after she playfully but firmly spurns his romantic advances - one of the very few Bond Girls to pull that off!"
- Wong, Jacky (1998-01-27). "Huge hit for first Chinese Bond girl". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2017-04-16.
- Szeto, Kin-Yan. The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora: Ang Lee, John Woo, and Jackie Chan in Hollywood. SIU Press, 29 June 2011. ISBN 0809386208, 9780809386208. p. 7.
- Chu, Yiu-Wai. Lost in Transition: Hong Kong Culture in the Age of China (SUNY series in Global Modernity). SUNY Press, 13 May 2013. ISBN 1438446470, 9781438446479. p. 25.
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- "Wai Lin - Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) - Best Bond girls - Pictures - Movies". Virgin Media. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
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- "Tribute to 007 (Part One): The Top Ten Bond Girls". Fandomania. 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- "BOND GIRLS TOP 40: GIRLS 11-20". Rope of Silicon. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- Cornelius, Ted (2008-10-15). "Wai Lin - Best Bond Girls". UGO.com. Retrieved 2013-09-16.