Actress Michelle Yeoh gets top French award

Slideshow ( 5 images )

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, one of Asia’s biggest film stars, received France’s highest civilian honor at a glittering function in the Malaysian capital on Wednesday.

Yeoh, best known to Western audiences for her roles in the 2000 film, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, and the Bond girl in the 1997 movie, “Tomorrow Never Dies”, received the medal of a Knight of the Legion of honor from Ambassador Alain du Boispean.

Through her many stays and connections to France, Yeoh had contributed to the strengthening of ties and mutual friendship between France and Malaysia, Du Boispean said before pinning the medal on Yeoh.

“I guess that deep down, I am a small-town girl from Ipoh who has been living a magical dream,” said Yeoh, who was dressed in an ivory Cavalli gown encrusted with crystals.

Born into an ethnic Chinese lawyer’s family in the northern Malaysian town of Ipoh in 1962, Yeoh studied dance and martial arts before winning a beauty pageant in 1983 that led to a commercial with action star Jackie Chan and then a film career.

France’s Legion of honor, established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, has five distinct ranks and is conferred for outstanding achievements in either military or civil life.