OK, I know you’re used to seeing this column titled, Credit ‘Wear’ Credit is Due, so what’s up with this (and even where not) thing?
It means, while this column recognizes and praises those special celebrities who almost always can be counted on to wear pantyhose in all the right situations and venues, when it comes to Michelle Yeoh, well, she can do whatever she wants and I’ll still always love her.
There is a very special place in my heart for Michelle Yeoh. As a huge Bruce Lee fan, I had stopped watching martial arts movies in the 1990s because they just didn’t measure up in any way, especially in realism when it came to fight scenes. It had been more than 15 years since I watched a kung fu movie, when in 2007 I stumbled across an old Jackie Chan movie, I hadn’t seen before, “Police Story III, Supercop” (1992), and couldn’t resist its co-star, Michelle Yeoh, whom I had never heard of before. I thought she was very charming and a great fighter, too. Turns out she actually studied Wing Chun, the first style Bruce Lee learned. Hmmmmm.
Not long after that, I watched a James Bond movie I had not seen before, “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997), starring Pierce Brosnan, whom I love, and one Michelle Yeoh. OK, now this was getting interesting. I searched my DVR for movies she’s in. Of course, I found “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), and “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005), but it wasn’t until I saw “Silver Hawk” (2004) that I became a full-fledged Michelle Yeoh fan. She’s done some great movies, but “Silver Hawk” remains my favorite because, silly as it is, it’s the one that best features her personality, her sense of humor, her glamorous side, and was the first one I saw that showed off her legs in sheer pantyhose a lot. And, wow, did she look amazing.
While I started ActSensuous back in 2001, it wasn’t until 2009 that I began The ActSensuous Blog, and in only my second post, June 16, 2009, “Calling out Professional Entertainers,” after I had just learned how to post a photo in the blog, the first-ever picture I used was this one, at left, of Michelle Yeoh.
I was using it as an example of the beauty and elegance she displayed during her appearance at the premiere event for “Tomorrow Never Dies,” in contrast to all the other celebrities who were appearing at similar events, wearing spectacular dresses and high heels, but with bear legs.
How gorgeous Michelle Yeoh looked in that dress with the slit up the side and sheer nude pantyhose.
Since that time, I was able to find (and post in this blog) other pics of her in pantyhose, particularly, at the premiere of “Supercop,” wearing a short dress and sheer nude pantyhose.
At the time, I wasn’t thinking that the event likely took place in 1992, before the “bear” legs movement had its origin.
I never dreamed in 2009 that those pics from the 1990s would be about the last time we’d see Michelle Yeoh wearing pantyhose in public.
I never dreamed she would be someone who would follow a fashion trend instigated by Hollywood, but that’s exactly what happened.
No, I imagined that someone of her professionalism, class, elegance and sheer beauty – to say nothing of the fact that she’s Malaysian of Chinese ethnicity – would have the conviction to do her own thing, especially when it comes to how she presents herself in the public eye.
For years now, I’ve been keeping a close eye on Michelle Yeoh, and time after time after time, she’s done the bear legs thing no matter how formal the occasion.
Seeing this was very disheartening to me. This was my new hero after all.
How could Michelle Yeoh be a devoted bear-legger?
Fortunately, in her movie roles that weren’t period pieces set in ancient China, she does wear pantyhose whenever she’s in a dress.
Of course, this made me love her even more, but I couldn’t justify the disconnect between her being so professional in her movies, but way too casual during awards shows or other public appearances.
I grew so frustrated that I actually considered making her the next recipient of The ActSensuous Grizzly Awards. But I just couldn’t pull the trigger on that, as evidenced by the title of this post, and its subject.
I find Michelle Yeoh to be so professional and classy that she just can’t do any wrong by me. I decided I could live with it if she never wore pantyhose again because she is such a wonderful person in real life. She sponsors several global charities, speaks out against social injustices but always with a positive and uplifting slant, and apparently is nothing but kind, caring and extremely gracious. Of course, secretly, I held out hope that one day she’d glam it up again the next time a situation or venue called for it. And that time has come.
While she’s made a great many popular and successful martial arts movies, dramas and documentaries, ultimately, nothing may be more compelling and more significant than her latest work, which opens in select U.S. theaters on Friday.
In the role she was born to play, Michelle Yeoh stars in “The Lady” – the true story about the life of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who, in reality, just last week hailed a “new era” for Myanmar (Burma) after her National League for Democracy (NLD) party claimed a major victory in landmark by-elections.
The movie’s limited U.S. release comes not even two weeks after the vote in Burma that will fill just 45 vacant seats in the country’s 664-seat Parliament, yet, took on historic significance because of Suu Kyi’s presence. After 20 years as a political prisoner, Suu Kyi won a victory that marked a turn in her political career and for the country, as it emerges from a half-century of military rule.
Of course, this movie is so meaningful and historically important, I don’t really care if Michelle Yeoh wears pantyhose or not in her role as Suu Kyi, especially because it might not be an accurate portrayal from a costume design point of view.
Nevertheless, it never stops surprising me that someone who looks so amazing in pantyhose would settle for looking – OK, in Michelle Yeoh’s case, still pretty awesome bear-legged – during awards ceremonies and publicity appearances. Still, the difference when she is wearing pantyhose is astounding.
I’m so happy to see any situation today in which Michelle Yeoh shows up in public, dressed professionally and formally again, wearing sheer pantyhose with her outfits. Perhaps, it’s the significance of the role she’s playing that has made her more aware of how she presents herself to the media, her peers and the public.
“The Lady” tells the stuggle of Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, who had been detained by the government of Myanmar and held under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years (ending on Nov. 13, 2010), and the tragedy of her 10-year separation from her Western husband, who remained in England, rearing their two sons and campaigning behind the scenes for her release.
The story’s heart-wrenching reality is felt as Suu Kyi’s husband is diagnosed with terminal cancer and the Burmese authorities refuse permission for him to visit her – offering instead that she could leave and return to Oxford, but would never be allowed back into Burma. Suu Kyi is confronted with a terrible choice – the consequences of which are irrevocable – her husband and children, or her country.
Said one of the film’s producers, Andy Harries:
“It’s not just a political story – it’s a tragic love story. This is a woman educated at Oxford, married to an Englishman, and who has two sons. She goes to her homeland to help for a few months and it turns into a 20-year house arrest.
“It’s a love triangle. She is torn between her love of her country, which looks to her as a symbol of hope, and her family … We are talking about someone who is the Nelson Mandela of Asia.”
At the helm of “The Lady” is French director Luc Besson who gave us “The Professional” (the assassin movie starring Jean Reno and Natalie Portman), and “The Fifth Element” (starring Milla Jovovich and Bruce Willis.)
While she is a veteran of action films, in which she has received much praise and fame for performing her own stunts, Michelle Yeoh has said the lead role in “The Lady” was very challenging, as she had to learn to speak Burmese to play Suu Kyi, and had to lose nearly 20 pounds (quite a sacrifice for someone who probably didn’t weigh a buck-twenty to begin with) to make herself look more like her character.
And during the months leading up to the filming of “The Lady,” Michelle Yeoh got a taste of Burma’s tight military/government control, as she was deported several times by the government when she tried to meet Suu Kyi in person for research.
Michelle Yeoh said she considers “The Lady” one of her most important works to date, calling Suu Kyi “an extraordinary role model for every woman in Asia.”
I’m not a film critic, and this blog post isn’t about my reviewing “The Lady” for you. There have been and will continue to be many great articles that will do that. All I know is that it’s based on a true story that needed to be told, and it stars Michelle Yeoh. Of course it’s going to be great.
So far, I haven’t found a theater in my area that is showing “The Lady,” but I will see it at my first opportunity. I hope you see it, too, and, if you haven’t already, will fall in love with Michelle Yeoh.
Here are some reactions from film industry and other dignitaries who’ve seen the premiere of “The Lady:”
“I always thought Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the pinnacle of Michelle’s career. In fact, it is The Lady.” – Director Ang Lee
“I watched the movie several times and I could not hold back my tears. She scarified so much for democracy in her country.” – Sanlih TV host Isabella Chen
“I can feel the pain in her heart. But she continued to do what she needed to do.” – Jui-Ling Chang, Formosa TV News anchorwoman
“She is emaciated, but she is brave. She is soft, yet very strong. I am really touched.” – Lin Cheng-sheng, movie director
“Michelle Yeoh looks almost identical to the real (Aung San Suu Kyi) character from body to soul. The several sad scenes are extremely touching.” – Director Nelson Yeh
“This is a film which stirs the deepest desire in your heart.” – Tammy Darshana Lai, singer and TV host
“She brought us the glory of humanity.” – Lee Yong-ping, chair of Taipei Culture Foundation
“This is the best movie I have seen in recent years. It has a very deep meaning for me.” – Tsai Ing-wen, former leader of the Democratic Progressive Party
“This is a very touching movie and I strongly recommend it!” – Director Feng Kai
“This is a movie that no one should miss!” – Jason Hu, Taichung City Mayoriss!” – Jason
In 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi returned to her native Burma from Oxford, where she had lived for many years. Her visit was prompted by news of her mother’s deteriorating health, but the country was in an uproar. Burma’s military leader, General Ne Win, stepped down, and protestors quickly filled the streets of Naypyidaw to demand democratic reform. Those protestors were beaten and their message suppressed. The charismatic and politically engaged Suu Kyi, whose father was a martyr for Burmese independence, found herself called upon to lead Burma out from under the shadow of military dictatorship as the General Secretary of the newly formed National League for Democracy. In 1990, a general election was held and the NLD won, but Suu Kyi was held under house arrest by the military junta. She remained a prisoner in her own home for most of the next 15 years.
Suu Kyi is the first Asian woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On Dec. 10, 1991, Suu Kyi’s two sons, Alexander Aris and Kim Aris (ages 18 and 14 at the time), accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf in Oslo, Norway, while she was serving a house arrest term in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar).
The title of the movie, “The Lady,” is the name by which Aung San Suu Kiy is known to the people of Burma, who see her as a beacon of grace and courage against the odds, and who risk incurring the wrath of the authorities for publicly uttering her name.