Michelle Yeoh, the French love you (and so do I)

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Either the French Legion knows that Michelle Yeoh can kick their collective ass back to the Napoleonic era, or they are smarter than American audiences, who

have yet

to give Yeoh her due. I’m guessing it’s a bit of both — but there’s no doubt that Yeoh’s formidable skills have

earned her the

Legion of Honor medal

(Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur), to be given at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 3.

The French civil award is akin to the British honor of knighthood, minus those pesky

monarchy complications: Since its establishment

by Napoleon himself (no complications there, right? oh, wait a minute …),

membership in the Legion has been based solely upon merit without regard to birth. Yeoh received a similar award in

2001, when the Sultan of her home state in Malaysia granted her the honorary title of Dato.

The “Queen of Martial Arts” — who started off as a dancer and beauty queen — tends to be modest about her accomplishments

(once referring

to “her own little style”), but there’s nothing modest about her ability to hold her own with

just about anyone, from Bond to Jackie Chan. She also happens to be an easy addition to the

making 40 fabulous” list.

Yeoh is making a lot of things fabulous these days. After her relatively

action-free

but critically acclaimed turn as a botanist space hero in

Sunshine, she is appearing in the icy drama

Far North,

alongside AfterEllen.com favorite Michelle Krusiec. (A fantasy match, perhaps, but not

in this film — they play an adoptive mother-daughter pair whose lives are

disrupted by a male guest. I guarantee I would’ve written that story a little differently.)

Next up is the third installment of The Mummy; although I haven’t seen the original two flicks (being an action fan, but a very picky one), Yeoh’s role as a

nefarious sorceress

might be enough to convince me.

I’m already convinced about the long-rumored, live-action Hua Mulan,

produced by Yeoh and set to reunite her with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha

costar Zhang Ziyi. Their non-Disney, non-Western take on the Chinese heroine’s story has the ingredients to be downright fantastic.

As a reminder of just how fantastic they can be together, and as evidence of why Yeoh deserves any and all medals of honor, French or otherwise, I give you the final

fight from Crouching Tiger:

Hard to argue with that, isn’t it?

So, Yeoh fans, with what honors would you shower her?

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