5. Ziyi Zhang
When most filmgoers think of Chinese period fantasy action, they are thinking of something Ziyi Zhang has done in the last ten years or so. She has done fantastic, physical roles in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the Jet Li vehicle Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and... er, Rush Hour 2. She also has tugged at heartstrings in such dramatic movies as Memoirs of a Geisha and Dangerous Liaisons. She's also a singer, contributing to several soundtracks.
Clearly her name should be near the top of any list that may exist. She's an accomplished action hero with the dramatic chops to pull real pathos out of the big moments of the story. When Mulan leaves her family to go off to war, imagine Ziyi Zhang cutting off her hair and donning a cracked and aged set of her father's armor. It'll bring down the house!
Agree? Disagree? More ideas? Let us know in the comments.