- "During the busiest time of my career, I was shooting six films, playing six different roles. I forgot about playing myself. One day, I stood in front of the mirror, I only saw an estranged face. 'Who am I?' I asked myself. 'What do I like? What do I not like? Why am I unhappy?' I could not answer those questions. And it dawned on me that I had lost myself unknowingly." - quote from Inside and Outside the Window, Brigitte Lin's 2010 autobiography
Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia (林青霞 Lín Qīngxiá, born 3 November 1954) is a Taiwanese actress well-known for roles in 90s Hong Kong historical period swordplay films, and an icon of East Asian media with a career spanning over 45 years, mostly known for her character "The Invincible" in the Swordsman trilogy and as the sultry arms dealer in Wong Kar-wai's classic, Chungking Express. Regarded as an icon of Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, her extensive roles in drama, gangster, martial arts, war, and multiple different genres have her painted as a "screen goddess", with a career spanning over 100 films and TV series.
At age 16, Lin plays a student volunteer carrying the flag for Chinese soldiers during the Sino-Japanese war; her performance in the film earns her the Best Actress award at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival, and convinced Hong Kong's top directors like Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark, Wong Kar-wai and even Jackie Chan to cast her in movies. Her range of performances and number of movies which are box-office hits revives Taiwanese cinema of the 1970s, and arguably puts Taiwan on the map when it comes to the film-making industry.
Being one of the key components of Hong Kong's "New Wave" cinema in the 80s, Lin was often typecast as cross-dressing roles, notably in Peking Opera Blues and Ashes of Time. With wuxia cinema going through a boom, and already achieving iconic status in the Swordsman trilogy, Brigitte in the 90s would star mostly in wuxia period pieces and martial arts fantasy films, such as The Bride With White Hair, New Dragon Gate Inn, Royal Tramp, Deadful Melody, Ashes of Time and the like.
In 2010, after a career in cinema for nearly 4 decades, Brigitte released her first autobiography, Inside and Outside the Window. The title comes from Brigitte's earlier roles, Outside the Window, where a then 19-year-old Lin started becoming popular and begin to reflect her future in a cinematic career. Incidentally, after her retirement from acting, she became a prolific author of repute.
Brigitte Lin's notable films:
- Eight Hundred Heroes - breakthrough role for the then-16 year old Lin
- The 1977 film adaptation of Dream of the Red Chamber, notable as this was Lin's first cross-dressing role (She played the male protagonist Jia Baoyu).
- Night Orchid
- Be Careful Sweetheart
- Police Story - first movie only
- Fantasy Mission Force
- Pink Force Commando
- Golden Queens Commando
- Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain
- Ashes of Time
- Peking Opera Blues
- Deadful Melody
- Chungking Express
- Fire Dragon
- The Bride With White Hair
- The Black Panther Warriors
- New Dragon Inn - the 1992 remake
Tropes relating to the performer:
- Action Girl: But only in her period dramas and the schlocky Taiwanese action movies she made with director Kevin Chu, Fantasy Mission Force, Golden Queens Commando and Pink Force Commando.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Goes around barefoot in many of her films, including Fantasy Mission Force, Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, Swordsman (in all 3 movies), The Bride With White Hair, Ashes of Time, and a few others. She tends to remove her shoes when attending interviews in real-life, too.
- Eye Scream: During the filming of New Dragon Inn, Brigitte, performing her own stunts, used her sword to parry a wave of arrows fired towards her. One of those arrows hit her in the left eye and left a hole in her cornea that has yet to heal even to this day. Granted, it was a blunted prop arrow, but it still hurts like hell.
- Lady in Red: Wears red in most of her period-pieces films, notably in the Swordsman trilogy, The Bride With White Hair and Fire Dragon.
- Older Than They Look: She is 60 years old in the picture above. And she could easily pass for someone in her late 30s, despite having two daughters and two grandsons.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: A lot of her roles in the 1990s have her playing men, ever since Peking Opera Blues. Of course, she started way back in 1977 with that year's adaptation of Dream Of The Red Chamber.
- Wuxia: Most of her films in the 1990s.