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Female Empowerment - The Most Badass Women on Film

View Chris Kavan's Profile

By Chris Kavan - 01/14/12 at 10:38 AM CT

On January 20th, MMA star Gina Carano looks to join an exclusive club: that of the tough-as-nails, take charge fierce female. These are women that don't just hand with their male action counterparts, they could probably reduce them to quivering mounds of jelly. From the looks of the trailers and clips of Carano, she ends up beating just about everyone else in the movie. It just goes to show, if you train a female black ops agent to be the best, don't double-cross her, or you will get you butt kicked by a girl.

Carano joins some good company - each of these women can more than hold their own and redefined what it means to be an action star:

1) Sigourney Weave as Ellen Ripley in the Alien Series: "In space, no one can hear you scream." - One of the best tag lines, but if you have Ripley on your side, the screams can go both ways. Going up against the alien menace, Ripley not only doesn't back down, she climbs in a giant metal suit and faces down the acid-dripping monstrosity. In the sequel she challenges the Alien Queen and utters the immortal "Get away from her, you *bitch!* " Anyone whose faced those adds and lived to tell the tale (more than once) deserves top spot on this list.

2) Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day: In the first film she was a scared, confused and pretty typical, suburban woman. But oh, what a difference one film makes. After facing this threat and realizing what's to come, she gets ready and becomes one tough mother - literally. She's both buff and a weapons expert - just because she's stuck in a mental institution doesn't mean she hasn't planned ahead. John Connor may be the world's best hope in the future, but in the present it's his mom whose saving the day.

3) Uma Thurman as The Bride (aka Kiddo) in Kill Bill Vol. 1, 2: The Bride's history is tragic and bloody - left for dead, losing her child, stuck in a coma - what does she do after she wakes up? After she kills the sick nurse who has been pimping out her body, she makes a list of all the people she needs to kill to get her revenge. Then, she gets down to it. From all-out brawls, sword fights, secret training techniques - she has got the talent and the searing rage to achieve her goal. Woe be it to those who stand in her way, be they a suburban mother, Yakuza boss, one-eyed assassin or redneck trailer-trash - she's coming to you to make sure dues are paid, and there will be blood - lots of blood.

4) Noomi Rapace / Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: I don't care which version you prefer, in either case instead of either a toned body or weapon specialist, in Lisbeth you have a beautiful mind and mad hacker skillz to match. Lisbeth is not imposing, other than her outward appearance, she is downright as unimposing as you can get. But don't let her size fool you, she will break you down with her photographic memory and technological wizardry. Sometimes the toughest women are the ones you can't figure out, and Lisbeth, who almost never lets anyone get close to her, exemplifies that description.

5) ChloŽ Grace Moretz as Hit Girl/Mindy Macready in Kick-Ass: Proving that bad ass comes in all sizes, Hit Girl may be pint sized, but her skills are more than a match for any adult. Trained by her father to be a killing machine, she goes about her job with glee, whether it's guns or blades, she isn't afraid to jump right in and bring down the pain. She's not exactly what I would call "well-adjusted" but if you need an unassuming death-dealer on your side, you couldn't ask for anyone better.

6) Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, Fox in Wanted, Evelyn Salt in Salt, Mrs. Smith in Mr. and Mrs. Smith... you get the point. Angelina Jolie is the go-to actress when you need someone whose sultry and can take on killers, secret agents and shadowy organizations. She's just as liable to seduce you as shoot you - so she poses a double threat. A woman with a touch of class who isn't afraid to kick your ass - now that's what I call the total package.

7) Milla Jovovich as Alice in the Resident Evil Series: When you mess with Mother Nature, she's liable to get right back in your face. Alice was an experiment that, through the course of the Resident Evil series, has transformed from a woman searching for answers into the ultimate one-woman army. Undead? No problem. Mutated super humans? Also not an issue. Just give her some guns, some blades and an army of clones - someone in Umbrella is totally getting the axe for getting a little too ambitious in playing God.

There are plenty of other women out there who will be more than happy to show you how non-ladylike the can be. I've just given you a glimpse of some of my favorites, but I'm sure you can come up with more. We'll see if any other new releases in 2012 can match Carano in Haywire with presenting a new generation of women who aren't afraid to fight, and woe be it to anyone who stands in their way.


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View Jase's Profile


Wrote on 01/18/12 at 08:54 PM CT

I had to look for the trailer for Knights of Badassdom. I'd never heard of it before, but it looks like it'll good be really good. Summer Glau and Peter Dinklage would be enough for me to want to watch, but Ryan Kwanten and Steve Zahn also being in it makes me want to see it that much more.

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View Chris's Profile


Wrote on 01/18/12 at 04:31 PM CT

If I were to add another woman to the list, River Tam would be on it - I've been eagerly anticipating Knights of Badassdom simply for the fact Summer Glau (and Peter Dinklage too) are involved. It's true, when does Glau not kick ass?

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View Jase's Profile


Wrote on 01/17/12 at 05:14 PM CT

If I were to make a similar list, I'd probably add Summer Glau as River Tam in Serenity. Her fight scenes were definitely the most memorable in the movie. She kicked much ass.

As for the comment posted about Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill movies, they're not really made to be realistic. They're over-the-top movies that are highly stylized. But, even so, I think there's a big difference between taking down lackeys armed with swords when you're well prepared with the best sword ever made and having a group of the best assassins in the world surprise you with machine guns, especially when you're pregnant and unarmed. It seemed pretty reasonable to me.

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View patjohnson76's Profile


Wrote on 01/14/12 at 11:52 PM CT

I agree with most of you list, particularly your top 2. I'm not that impressed with Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill movies (probably because I'm not a Tarintino fan), but seriously, how can a character not be able to handle 5 people who come to her wedding to kill her, but she can easily fight off 100 samurai?!

I'd also question the Lisbeth Salander inclusion. In the books she's great because as a reader you're able to picture her as you want, but I've felt that both film interpretations make her seem incredibly unrealistic...and kind of whiny.

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