Friday, June 04, 2010

My top 10 ultimate badass movie and TV heroines

Okay... let's preface this by saying that I had to be able to suspend disbelief and actually think that the characters were truly badass.  This is typically accomplished by fusing convincing acting with good fight choreography and excellent camera work.  Having athletic, hot actresses doing the ass-kicking doesn't hurt, but somehow it isn't as necessary as one might think.

10.  Victory Nelson.  (Short lived Lifetime original series, Blood Ties--based on the works of fantasy author Tanya Huff).  I'm afraid Vicky comes in at number 10 simply because of obscurity.  Played by actress Christina Cox, we didn't get to see more than a hint of what Vicky could do.  She was damn quick with those telescoping batons, though.  Christina herself is a trained kickboxer, and moved like she knew what she was doing.  I bought it.

9.  Sarah Connors:  (The Terminator franchise).  I'm actually talking about Linda Hamilton here, not the television version of the same character.  Linda was convincing as Sarah because she had been stripped down to the bare necessities like a woman who'd been burning from the inside out for far too long.  Lean, corded muscle and a thousand-yard stare made her really come across as someone who'd seen the devil and spit in his eye.  And crushed his robot body beneath her boot heel.

8.  Buffy Summers.  (Buffy, the Vampire Slayer of TV and Film).  I'm going with the TV version because Kristy Swanson couldn't convince me of anything.  Despite her slim and willowy form (and, my gawd, the girl's turned into a stick figure) actress Sarah Gellar managed to make me believe she could kick the snot out of even the badest vamp without once breaking a nail.  Kudos to the choreographers and camera technicians, as well as her trainer.  She was quite convincing.  Yes, I know she started out with a belt in Tae Kwon Do.  But I know it took a lot of hard work to make it all come together.

7. Faith Lehane:  (BVTS, once again--the TV show).  All things considered, it was much easier to buy Faith as a "chew em up and spit 'em out" vampire slayer.  She just looks more solid than Sarah Gellar.  Plus the character was balls-out.  Where Buffy relied on her friends a lot, Faith just relied on good old fashioned ass kicking craziness.  Maybe not the best strategy in the long run, but I never got the idea Faith planned to be around forever.

6. Lara Croft:  (Tomb Raider 1 and 2).  I was impressed to discover that Angelina Jolie did many of her own stunts for this movie.  She looked solid and her kung fu skills were impressive.  Okay, maybe not kung fu, but at least kickboxing.  The bungee cord ballet was fucking amazing.  Large, megalithic props to the choreographers on this one.  She looked like she could wade through a whole army of illuminati assholes without batting an eye.  I miss that Angelina.

5. Elektra:  Setting aside the debacle that was Daredevil (one of my favorite superheroes growing up--after Spider Man, screwed up by so many things I don't want to discuss right now) I honestly didn't think Elektra was that bad.  Garner certainly managed to pull off the badassery as well as anyone could have.  I know, like Angelina, that she did many of her own stunts and lost the tip of a finger during the rehearsal of the sword fight with the Big Bad).  I can respect that level of dedication.  And, yeah, I thought she might've been all that.

4. Zen:  (From the Thai film, "Chocolate.")  Really she should have rated higher, and would have if not for what I see as the director's few glaring mistakes.  The girl is remarkably athletic, and has one hell of a future ahead of her.  But, despite some truly remarkable stunts, there were a few techniques performed that threw me bodily out of my suspension of disbelief.  For a little thing like JeeJa Yanin (or, if you prefer, Yanin Vismitananda) to get any power (without presumed supernatural assistance) into her blows, she can't be performing them at a distance of a couple of inches.  That kind of punch/kick might rock his head back, but it won't knock him flat.  But all in all the girl was the shit.

3. River Tam: (Firefly and Serenity).  Another Joss Whedon offering featuring a little girl who can kick ass.  Of course, we don't really see that side of her until the movie.  Summer Glau is a dancer, and, as we've seen before, dance translates very well into martial arts choreography.  Yes, you too will believe this tiny thing can kick the living shit out of a whole army of wild, savage, cannibalistic Reavers.  And that, my friends, is impressive indeed.

2.  Alice:  (Resident Evil 1, 2, and 3).  I just recently watched RE 1 the other day.  Milla Jovovich looked solid, like someone who COULD kick a zombie's head clean off.  It's been a while since I've seen the others, but I remember thinking she'd lost a little muscle tone, particularly in the last one.  I know she's been genetically altered, folks, but a little bulk makes the pill go down easier.  Yeah, she kicks ass.  But it helps that she LOOKS like she can kick ass.

1. Violet Song jat Shariff:  (Ultraviolet).  Milla again.  This girl makes a remarkably believable action star.  Some of it is, of course, attitude.  You watch her and you believe she can go from stone killer to sweet thing and back in seconds flat.  Violet is a thief, assassin, and "terrorist" in her world, and, as she says more than once, killing is "what I do."  She'd lost everything that mattered to her and wanted revenge.  And got it... in spades.  Live or die, Violet was going to take as many of the motherfuckers with her as she could.  A lot of people hated this flick.  I loved it.  Some of the special effects were sub-par, but the story and choreography were top-notch in my book.  Massive amounts of violence and, yet, heart.  I get it.

I should include an honorable mention category, but not this time.  Let's see what everyone else has to say first.  I await your responses.


Shaiha said...

Ummm.. I am not sure that I am one to comment as I just don't get into female heroines

M Pax said...

It's a good list. Tanya Huff's Confederation series rocks.

Liz said...

If you leave behind the fantasy element and focus on a heroine in a real world situation, I have to give props to Peta Wilson on La Femme Nikita. And also Kara Thrace from Battlestar Galactica.

Back to fantasy, Kate Beckinsale in Underworld.

If you really want to suspend belief Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Despite how slight she was, she looked ready to throw down.

And lastly, even though no one knows her name, Cynthia Rothrock was an amazing fighter who could actually fight. She didn't make it stateside real big, but girl has fighting talent.

Saje said...

Liz: Actually, Nikita did come in as an honorable mention. I can't say for Starbuck because I didn't watch BSG. Well, past about the first six episodes. Took itself too damn seriously for someone who remembers the original series. Needed a little more humor to be an effective drama. IMO. I was bored to tears.

Underworld just pissed me off. So much potential, such a crappy execution. If I watch a movie about werewolves and vampires I want a lot less gun-play. That said, the character WAS a convincing one. The boyfriend/hybrid... meh.

And I think Kill Bill would've been more effective with ANYONE else in the lead role. The only character I ever saw Thurman play I actually bought was Poison Ivy. And considering the piece of trash that movie was, that's not a recommendation.