KFMG Podcast S07 Episode 81: Michiko Nishiwaki

Posted in Podcasts by - October 17, 2022
KFMG Podcast S07 Episode 81: Michiko Nishiwaki

“I look really good for my age… If I were to compete, I would be a winner.”

As a powerlifting champion, three-time ‘Miss Fitness’ winner in Japan and an action film star, Michiko Nishiwaki has been on quite a journey. When she left school to start working in human resources for the Mitsubishi bank in the 1970s, her life goals were similar to many other Japanese women in her position; to find a husband and have children. But for Michiko – obsessed with gymnastics, karate, fitness, singing and the arts from an early age – she decided to take a different path. Following her brother into the fitness industry, she became a gym owner in Japan and a pioneer in women’s bodybuilding. At the height of her fame in the 1980s, she used her celebrity to break taboos, confronting the traditional image of women as the ‘weaker’ sex in Japanese society, and using film and television to promote the health benefits of weight-training. Her fame caught the attention of Golden Harvest in Hong Kong, who invited her to make her big-screen debut in the 1985 action comedy, My Lucky Stars, alongside Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. A career as a Hong Kong martial arts star beckoned, mostly portraying evil Japanese gangsters in an array of wild, ‘girls with guns’ action movies. In the late 1990s, she relocated to Hollywood, becoming a stunt performer in films like Charlie’s AngelsRush Hour 2 and Kill Bill, and doubling for the likes of Lucy Liu, Kelly Hu and Zhang Ziyi. Now, aged 64, she is making a comeback after over a decade away from the industry, working as Michelle Yeoh’s stand-in for the bonkers 2021 smash hit, Everything Everywhere All at Once. As she approaches her film career with a renewed focus, what does the next chapter in Michiko’s already incredible and multifaceted career look like? A huge thank you to Sally Hinata for arranging this conversation. For the latest Michiko Nishiwaki news, follow her on Instagram.

Michiko’s iconic turn as the ‘dice queen’ in God of Gamblers (1989).

Lucy Liu and Michiko Nishiwaki; Charlie’s Angels (2000).

Michiko Nishiwaki and Jackie Chan; Rush Hour 2 (2001).

Michiko Nishiwaki, Inside Kung Fu, March 2003.

From left: Michiko’s son, Kazuki DeBear, EEAAO star Stephanie Hsu, and Michiko Nishiwaki at a screening of EEAAO in October 2022.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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