Kate Beckingsale returned to the big-screen recently as the latex sheathed, ass-kicking assassin, Selene in Underworld: Awakening. Much to delight of millions of fans who have been dying to see the steely-eyed angel of death slice, dice and shoot her way through two hours of cinematic eye candy.
During the past thirty years, audiences have seen a renaissance of the female action hero promoting actresses from busty sidekicks and damsels-in-distress to the forefront.
So knowing my personal penchant for lists, I decided to compile a roster of my favorite female action characters throughout the years. I wanted to stick to those that I myself grew up with so there will be a few notable exceptions such as Barbarella, Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder from ‘Dr. No’) and anything by Pam Grier.
I love a female character that stands up for herself; one who has more to offer than skimpy outfits and an ample bosom. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) However, a woman who needs no man to protect her is by far the sexiest of the bunch. That being said, here are my choices for the best tough chick roles over the last three decades.
12) Cherry Darling
Played by: Rose McGowan
Number of films: 1 (Planet Terror)
Weapon of Choice: M4 Carbine Machine Gun with grenade launcher
Why She Kicks Ass: Rose McGowan goes from go-go dancer to killing machine in Robert Rodriguez’s shoot-’em-up gorefest. Who’d have thought she’d be such a crack shot with a machine gun for a leg, one which never seems to need reloading?
Synopsis: If tough chicks are your thing, then how can you not include a girl with a machine gun leg? Cherry adds new meaning to the word tough. By squatting down and spinning she turns her lower limb into a devastating weapon. No one has a chance when she gets the anger going!
Favorite Quote: What do you think of the leg?
Played by: Milla Jovovich
Number of films: 5* (Resident Evil / RE: Apocalypse / RE: Extinction / RE: Afterlife / RE: Retribution)
Weapon of Choice: Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine gun
Why She Kicks Ass: The first Resident Evil is campy, ballsy fun, and Milla’s portrayal of the seemingly-delicate, but really dangerous Alice is a big part of it. She starts off seeming all confused and fragile, and the next thing you know she’s ripping up zombie hordes with relentless efficiency. She’s good with a gun, she will bust up a zombie Doberman without blinking, and she’ll look good doing it.
Synopsis: Alice outdoes herself in this sequel as she takes on a hulking monster the size of a small tank. Running down the sides of buildings or jumping motorcycles through plate-glass windows are run-of-the-mill occurrences for our genetically enhanced heroine.
Favorite Quote: My name is Alice and I remember everything.
Played by: Michelle Pfeiffer / Halle Berry* / Anne Hathaway
Number of films: 3 (Batman Returns / Catwoman (we don’t really count this one) / The Dark Knight Rises)
Weapon of Choice: Bullwhip
Why She Kicks Ass: Lethal, lustful and unafraid to use her womanly wiles to get her way, Pfeiffer was pretty much the dream embodiment of Catwoman, although it seemed that she could never quite decide whether she wanted to kiss Batman or kill him. Pfeiffer practically oozed sex appeal in that skin-tight costume, wielding her whip and her wit to deadly effect and perfectly capturing the love/hate relationship with Batman that comic book fans have enjoyed for decades.
Synopsis: Catwoman is one of Gotham City’s most prominent villains, ranking near the top with Joker and Two-Face for the most criminal activity. Dressed in a sleek, black bodysuit Catwoman has the appearance and grace of the animal from which she gets her name. It is easy to see that Catwoman is attracted to Batman in a strong physical way. The fact they are on opposite sides of the law will undoubtedly keep them apart.
Favorite Quote: Life’s a bitch. Now so am I.
9) Charly Baltimore
Played by: Geena Davis
Number of films: 1 (The Long Kiss Goodnight)
Weapon of Choice: Satin Nickel SIG P226 pistol / Stainless Ruger Mini-14 / Remington 700 Take-Down Sniper Rifle
Why She Kicks Ass: Samantha, aka Charlie, is one screwed up woman. She can’t remember who she is, she doesn’t know how she got to where she is, and apparently she can kill a room full of people with her bare hands. She’s a loving mom, a loyal wife, and a borderline sociopath. I’m not the only one who finds that immensely appealing, right?
Synopsis: Being half drowned, shot and blown up doesn’t stop Charlie Baltimore from defeating the rogue CIA agents in this movie. She swings on wires like an urban Tarzan shooting her machine gun with deadly accuracy and she uses a knife like a master chef. As the bad guys found out too late, if you get between her and her daughter, you’re as good as toast.
Favorite Quote: You’re going to die screaming… and I’m going to watch.
8 ) Hit-Girl
Played by: Chloë Grace Moretz
Number of films: 2* (Kick-Ass / Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall*)
Weapon of Choice: A pair of Heckler & Koch USP (primarily)
Why She Kicks Ass: Even though the comic and the movie are named after the story’s main male character, Hit Girl does all the hard work. Trained by her police officer father in everything from guns and knives to hand to hand combat, Hit Girl is not be taken lightly. She saves Kick-Ass from being killed and kidnapped multiple times, and she has the best dialogue. Did we forget to mention she’s only 11?
Synopsis: Hit-Girl was raised by her father, Big Daddy, an ex-police office framed and imprisoned by local gangsters. For an unnamed amount of time, Big Daddy had trained Hit-Girl to kill, allowing her to fight alongside him to avenge his wife’s death by killing many criminals, ending with boss-man, Frank D’Amico.
Favorite Quote: So, you wanna play?
7) Lara Croft
Played by: Angelina Jolie
Number of films: 2 (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider & Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life)
Weapon of Choice: A pair of Heckler & Koch USP handguns
Why She Kicks Ass: Lara Croft, a buxom video game character brought to life, manages to give the James Bond monopoly a run for its money. As much as Croft is a rebellious and adventurous weapons diva, she also maintains a modicum of manners and decorum. Lara Croft melds Indiana Jones and James Bond into a deliriously good-looking female package who can outmaneuver most of her male counterparts while making them drool.
Synopsis: A female Indiana Jones who kicks ass better than the original, Lara takes on a secret society who wishes to rule the world. An ambidextrous gun-toting karate expert who looks good in tight clothing with a sexy British accent, what’s not to be impressed about?
Favorite Quote: Yes, a lady should be modest.
**STAY TUNED FOR PART #2 –– COMING SOON!!**