The 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, apart from the countless headlines that punned on the title, gave rise to two stars: Director Ang Lee and the spectacularly beautiful Ziyi Zhang.
In the movie, Ziyi plays a rebel, alongside the two great actors of Asian cinema, Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh. The sequence in which she is kidnapped and later ravished is among the most passionate in the film and at this point the movie becomes racy and breathless, the cinematography stunning. She appeared in much smaller role in Hero, more famous for its lead actor Jet Li rather than Ziyi's charms.
In Kar Wai Wong's 2046, Ziyi is back. Her acting in this movie has improved in leaps and it's around her that the movie is built. She play a high-class call girl in the movie, who falls in love with a writer who is writing a story called 2046. The title does not refer to a year, but to a place where people living in a futuristic world go to to relive their lost dreams. No one comes back. The cinematography is restless, the director choosing to creep in on his characters from behind walls. The production design is elaborate and the costumes too are designed well. In an interview on the movie's DVD, Ziyi appears chatty and thoughtful, trying to potray herself as a "thinking actor". Then Yimou Zhang made House of the Flying Daggers. The movie, which was almost a companion piece to The Hero, perhaps showcased Ziyi like never before. Ziyi played the daughter of the leader of House of Flying Daggers, a dangerous cult group that is threatening the Chinese empire. It was plum and demanding role, with Ziyi performing her kung-fu herself. Then came the icing on the cake. Rob Marshall cast her as the lead in Memoirs of a Geisha, the movie that really got her into the big league. Hollywoods beckons, and Ziyi seems to be ready to make the move.