An actress of striking intensity and fierce dedication to family life, Taiwanese-born Brigitte Lin has thrilled audiences since her earliest film appearances in the early ’70s. From the hopelessly romantic films of her early career to the powerful and mysterious costume fantasies of her later roles, Lin’s stunning beauty and powerful screen presence lent themselves successfully to both the romantic and the fantastic.
Born in Taiwan, Lin attended Taiwan Chingling Girls’ Secondary School in her early years and later enrolled at Tanjiang General Education College. After being spotted by a film producer on the streets of Taipei in 1972, Lin made her film debut in Outside the Window, though due to legal complications, the film went unreleased. It was through her role in Window that Lin would find real-life romance with co-star Chin Han, though Han’s marital status prevented the couple from pursuing their relationship despite various rumors and insinuations. Her formal debut and initial exposure came with her second film, Yun Piao Piao (Floating Clouds), a few short years later. Moving to California in the late ’70s to escape the rumor mill and attend some college courses, Lin was romanced by and engaged to Charlie Chin, though the relationship soon fell through, due in part to Chin Han’s divorce. It was shortly after this time that Lin’s roles began to shift from the romantic to the fantastic, most notably with her role in director Tsui Hark’s masterful, standard-setting fantasy Shu Shan (1983) (Lin would again team with Hark for the acclaimed Peking Opera Blues in 1986).
Through the remainder of the ’80s and into the ’90s, Lin’s career expanded as she became a staple of Hong Kong action/fantasy cinema. It was during this period that Lin made many of the films that would bring her familiarity to Western audiences. Her roles in the popular Swordsman films and as the striking title character in the art-house hit The Bride With White Hair and its sequel showcased an actress with dynamic abilities who could send shivers through audiences with her fearsome gaze. Lin won best actress at the Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan for her role in Red Dust (1992) and also won acclaim for her role as Asia the Invincible in East is Red (1992).
1994 found Lin in the first of two collaborations with colorful Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai with her role in Ashes of Time and brought the publicly unexpected marriage of Lin to businessman Michael Zing. Though she appeared in a few more films, Lin stated that she was retiring from the entertainment industry to dedicate herself to her marriage and her newborn daughter, making her final career appearance as the mysterious woman in the blonde wig in Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express (1994).