Tzi Ma

The Hong Kong-born Tzi Ma, who studied theatre and dance in America, has proven that Asian men can carve out a successful niche in Hollywood, even if they aren't action superstars like Jackie Chan or Jet Li. One of his earliest roles to gain notice was as the main heavy in 1992's "Rapid Fire," in which he fought hand-to-hand on an elevated train platform with Brandon Lee, son of the legendary Bruce Lee. But for most of the decade, it was just as common to see Ma in roles that didn't require kung-fu kicks; he was effective in the 1994 drama "Golden Gate" (written by David Henry Hwang, with whom he collaborated numerous times for the stage) and on "NYPD Blue" in the recurring part of Detective Harold Ng. In 2002, he played a shadowy assistant to Michael Caine's British journalist in "The Quiet American," one of the more critically acclaimed films of the year. This gave his career a boost, and he subsequently landed his highest-profile film yet: the Coen Brothers' 2004 remake of "The Ladykillers," which allowed Ma to show off a more comedic side. During this time, he was also active in independent film, playing a retiree desperately trying to hide a dark secret from his three grown daughters in "Red Doors." As for television work, Ma appeared in the series "24" as Cheng Zhi, a Chinese official who matches wits and wills, as opposed to fists, with protagonist Jack Bauer.