Nonetheless, the film was a box office hit in the West.
In the West, Zhang is best known for her appearances in Rush Hour 2 (2001), Hero (2002), and House of Flying Daggers (2004).
Her most critically acclaimed works are Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), which earned her nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role; and The Grandmaster (2013), for which she won 12 different Best Actress awards to become the most awarded actress for a single film.
In 1998, while she was studying in Central Academy of Drama, Zhang was offered her first role by director Zhang Yimou in his film The Road Home, which won the Silver Bear prize at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival.
Zhang plays a young Manchu noblewoman who has secretly learned martial arts and runs off to become a wandering swordswoman rather than commit to an arranged marriage.
I know I have the ability to go deeper, to take on more original roles than that.
That's why I really appreciated Geisha, because it allowed us to show the world what kind of actors we are and what kind of characters we can play—not just action, kick-ass parts.In 2012, an overseas Chinese website Boxun falsely reported that Zhang Ziyi was paid 0 million to sleep with top Chinese officials. In December 2013, Boxun settled the case after agreeing to pay an undisclosed amount to Zhang and issue a front-page apology. Otherwise I could have done a lot of Hollywood movies.After Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon I got a lot of offers, but I turned them down because they were all victim roles—poor girls sold to America to be a wife or whatever.On playing her first villain role, Zhang expressed that "the opportunity to sort of try and analyze the psyche of the character and get to know and pull out emotions I’ve never had to utilize before..very exciting." Zhang went back to the martial arts genre in House of Flying Daggers (2004), again by Zhang Yimou, where she starred along Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau.She plays the blind dancing girl Mei, who despite the lack of eyesight, is a skilled fighter.This role won her the Most Promising Actress award at the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards and Best Supporting Actress awards from the Independent Spirit Awards, as well as Toronto Film Critics Association Awards.