Top 20 Cinematic Women Who Kick Butt

For this week's Ranked!, we decided to rank our favorite ass-kicking cinematic females. Did your favorite make the cut?

20. Vanessa Lutz, Freeway

19. Alabama Worley, True Romance

18. Gogo Yubari, Kill Bill: Vol. I

17. Leeloo, The Fifth Element

16. Nikita, La Femme Nikita

15. Jen Yu, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

14. Lornette 'Mace' Mason, Strange Days

13. Alice, Resident Evil

12. Mallory Knox, Natural Born Killers

11. Thelma And Louise, Thelma & Louise

10. Buffy, Buffy The Vampire Slayer

9. Veronica Sawyer, Heathers

8. Princess Leia Organa, Star Wars

7. River Tam, Serenity

6. Trinity, The Matrix

5. Hit-Girl, Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass is one of those movies that is a problem for me: an awesome flick that you can't recommend to just anyone. It's in good company, joining one of my favorite films of all time, Pulp Fiction, and for the same reason: it takes a pretty cavalier approach in its depiction of over-the-top violence. (Okay... I guess I shouldn't single out Pulp Fiction. Most of Quentin Tarantino's films fall into that category.)

What makes Kick-Ass even more edgy than Tarantino's films is the fact that most of the violence centers around or is perpetrated by Hit Girl, the twelve-year-old protagonist who could easily kick the ass (to coin a phrase) of any heroine who ever kicked ass on the silver screen. The movie does an awesome job of introducing her to the audience. The first time you see her, she looks like a normal little girl, dressed up in a pink parka and hanging out with her dad and grousing about having to do whatever it is her father is telling her to do. Then her dad shoots her. And she just gets up and continues to grouse until she's promised some ice cream.

From that point on, Hit Girl's reputation unfolds. She's got a mouth on her that would make Sam Jackson say, "Whoa... watch your language!" And, man oh man, can she fight! Using knives, spears, guns, and good old fashioned martial arts, she takes down an amazingly large number of bad guys over the course of the film. (The rocking, somewhat light-hearted music that accompanies the key fight scenes just serves to emphasize the light-hearted approach the film takes to a little girl committing acts of intense violence. The Banana Splits theme and "Bad Reputation"--who would have thought that they could be so appropriate during a knock-down, drag out brawl?)

If you watch the movie on DVD or Blu-Ray, check out the special features. What was so impressive on-screen is even more impressive when you find out that Chloe Moretz, the actress who plays Hit Girl, did most of her own fighting. The footage of her training is amazing to watch, and the martial arts instructor seems pretty impressed when he talks about how easily she learned all of the moves.

Again, this is not a movie for just anyone. If you can't stand the idea of a twelve-year-old tearing dozens of people to shreds and swearing like a drunken sailor, you should probably stay away. But if you can get past that, treat yourself to some good comic book fun--and enjoy the antics of the most ass-kicking twelve-year-old you're ever likely to see.--Dave



4. Tank Girl, Tank Girl

No one looked more forward to the screen adaptation of Tank Girl more than me; by the time it rolled around I'd been a Tank Girl fan for some time. The Jamie Hewlett/Alan Martin print creation had exploded all over my brain, delighting me with its irreverence and its non-linear, post-apocalyptic, punk-psychedelic ludicrousness.

A lot of people were disappointed with the film, and rightly so: it was really hard to bring Tank Girl's world to life, and the plot seemed to only draw minuscule elements from the Hewlett/Martin comics. One thing was distinctly right about the film, though, and that was the casting of Lori Petty in the lead role. She was a great fit for Tanky's boots, and she was as gorgeous and in-your-face as any performer could ever hope to be in that part.

My love of Tank Girl --on the page or on the screen-- boils down to one thing, essentially. Okay, two: she doesn't base what she does on the opinions or potential negative reactions of others and two, her interests and activities don't fall along gender-constructed lines. Tanky likes lipstick and beer. She has breasts and she blows shit up. She is enthusiastic and profane and sassy and loyal and clever. Tank Girl can take a punch...or two or ten; she can handle a couple of buckets of dirt being kicked over on her. She loves a good song-and-dance number and doesn't give a shit about dying.

In short, Tank Girl does whatever the fuck she wants based on an internal compass and damn the consequences. If you're on her side, you find trouble and adventure. If you're not on her her side, you find a turret aimed at your nethers or a boot on your neck. Either way, she is cackling and egging the action on.--Jett Superior



3. The Bride, Kill Bill: Vol. I & II

I've always been a huge fan of Tarantino movies. He and I clearly share a love of many things, like spaghetti westerns, martial arts films, and obscure but awesome musical interludes. He also has a spectacular grasp of snappy dialog and stylized violence, and when he wrapped one of my favorite actresses in a yellow jumpsuit and tossed her a samurai sword, I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to like what I saw.

Beatrix Kiddo, aka Black Mamba, aka The Bride, kicks so much ass it's ridiculous. OK, it helps that she's a highly-trained assassin and master of the Five-Point Exploding Heart Technique. But seriously, her awesomeness, like her style, cannot be summed up in words. She defeats a gang of 88 swordsman and a sadistic school girl armed with a meteor hammer, all after surviving a head-shot and four years in a coma. She is buried alive in a grave, but is so highly trained that not only does she escape with the power of her fingertips but uses those same fingertips to blind the chick from Splash. And only then does she start to pursue her former lover/employer, who happens to be... you guessed it... an assassin and master of kung fu.

Say what you will about The Bride, but you have to admire her persistence.

She's not a mindless killer, of course. She is a woman betrayed, seeking vengeance, redemption, and closure on the life she once had. Her dream was always to retire and take up a simple life with a family of her own, something that was taken away from her. And she eventually achieves it, if via somewhat different methods than you and I might. But hey, you think differently when you wield a god damn Hattori Hanz┼Ź sword.--CroutonBoy



2. Sarah Connor, Terminator 2: Judgment Day

I didn't think much about Sarah Connor when watching The Terminator for the first time. She was just some meek waitress who was getting in the way of the movie's cool robot action. But that had all changed by the end of the flick. Sarah changed before our eyes and that last shot of her driving off, no longer innocent, burned into my youthful brain.

This is part of what made Terminator 2: Judgment Day such an amazing experience. We got to see how years of living with the knowledge of the end of the world changes a person. There's barely a trace of the Sarah we knew from The Terminator. This Sarah is the one that sticks and the reason why she's on this list. This Sarah is tough, trained, and yes, perhaps a little bit crazy. But she's got the weight of the world on her shoulders and she's not going to let any damned robots fuck with the future. That makes her sexy, dangerous, unpredictable and one of the best bad-ass movie moms in history.--Daddy Geek Boy



1. Ellen Ripley, Aliens

No offense to the other justice-serving, planet-saving women on this list, but please. Ellen Ripley would eat Sarah Connor for brunch on toast. In a cage match, Ripley would eviscerate The Bride and leave her crying into her veil. And Tank Girl? A mere whippersnapper by comparison. A tiny little Olsen twin next to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley.

That's right. Back to your tea sets, ladies.

Ripley is the greatest, ass-kickingest heroine in cinema not just because she fought the most lethal creature in the galaxy (don't argue), not because she fought armies of them in later movies, but because she did it all despite the fact that all she ever really wanted was to do was stay out of everyone's way and hang out at home with her cat.

In Alien, Ripley was trapped in a creepy spaceship that proved a better setting than any haunted house, playing cat-and-mouse with one tail-whipping, jaw-snapping monster. In Aliens, she battled a gang of them on an abandoned space colony and survived while a whole troop of space marines ate it.

And in the third one, she shaved her frickin' head.

Ok, I'll grant that the third and fourth movies weren't quite as spectacular as the first two, but Weaver's performance still elevated them beyond your typical sci-fi popcorn flick. Even in that fourth one where she's a clone and Winona Ryder is inexplicably cast as a waifish android, Weaver's chops turned a typical alien/damsel stalkerfest into a terrifying, diabolical waltz among the stars, where--say it, you know you want to say it--no one can hear you scream.

The defining moment that gives Ripley her title as Most Kick-Ass Woman in Cinema? In the second movie, as the Big Mama alien is about to turn the little urchin girl Newt into a bite-size snack, we see our heroine approach from behind, strapped into that human exo-skeletal construction suit, with granite in her expression and vengeance in her eyes, and she says, channeling instincts both maternal and warlike:

"Get away from her, you bitch!"

Hell yeah. You know I'm right.--Didactic Pirate



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