Gong Li

It's not nearly her best movie, or her toughest role, but the 1994 Qin dynasty epic The Great Conqueror's Concubine has a scene that beautifully sums up Gong Li's screen power. She is bathing in a large wooden vat with the lovely Rosamund Kwan, who screams as a large rat swims toward her. In a flash, Gong Li grabs the rodent and tosses it unceremoniously out of the tub.

Many a movie rat, of the human male variety, has tried to strike fear onto Gong Li's imperious face. Some have defeated her; none have cowed her. She represents,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!