With the release of “The Hunger Games,” featuring lethal lady Katniss Everdeen, it got me thinking about her place in the pantheon of action heroes of the female persuasion.
Sure, the boys’ club of flying bullets and bone-jarring explosions don’t typically leave a lot of room for feminine charms. But a fair share of women have kicked a lot of butt on the big screen and these are the top 10 characters you’d want most by your side when walking down a dark alley.
- Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher): “Star Wars” — Sure she’s the girliest of the bunch and her hairstyles weren’t all that intimidating, but she did shoot a whole lot of Storm Troopers and strangled Jabba the Hutt while wearing only a tiny gold bikini. Plus, she’s the only person in the galaxy to get away with calling Han Solo a nerf herder. The force is strong with this one.
- Hanna (Saoirse Ronan): “Hanna” — Raised all alone in the wilderness by her father with the sole purpose of becoming a vengeance-seeking killing machine, Hanna kicked, punched, and neck-snapped her way all across Europe. She also managed to find some time to learn the softer side of being a teenage girl and the delights of electricity and indoor plumbing. You go, girl!
- Foxy Brown (Pam Grier): “Foxy Brown” Blaxploitation needed a heroine and man did it get one with Foxy Brown. To avenge her boyfriend, Foxy poses as a prostitute to infiltrate the drug syndicate that did him in. She gruesomely racks up a high body count with a funky bassline grooving in the background. You don’t mess around with Foxy Brown.
- Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie): “Salt” — I almost went with Lara Croft for my Angelina Jolie entry, but those movies were just so ridiculous, I decided to go with the slightly less ridiculous “Salt.” As Evelyn Salt, Jolie gets to play a double-double agent on the run from both the CIA and the Russians. Jolie has kicked a lot of tail in a lot of movies, but here she does it with her most interesting character and without any help from computer graphics.
- Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz): “Kick-Ass” — Undoubtedly the most lethal and foul-mouthed entry on the list, Hit-Girl finds herself in the middle though thanks mostly to her limited screen time and the fact that she’s only 10 years old. From the bloody “real-life” comic-book movie “Kick-Ass,” Hit-Girl stood out for her effectiveness with a samurai sword and only being moderately warped by being raised by Nicolas Cage.
- Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss): “The Matrix” — She brought tight black leather back in a big way as she leaped over buildings, riddled everything in her path with bullets, and managed to stay the most grounded character as the movies got increasingly preposterous. Plus, she did it all while exchanging dialogue with Keanu Reeves, which ups her degree of difficulty by the power of 10.
- Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton): “The Terminator” — Sarah Connor undoubtedly undergoes the biggest transformation of anyone on this list. Hunted by a murderous cyborg from the future simply for birthing the potential savior of humanity, Sarah goes from ’80s party girl to bare-knuckled survivalist in the span of two films. Talk about your extreme makeovers.
- Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence): “The Hunger Games” — Katniss makes a big impression with her debut and even has the potential to move up with at least two more movies to come. This girl has it all: she’s smart, she’s tough and she’s handy with a bow and arrow. That said, she’ll have to do a lot of damage to leap over the top two ladies.
- The Bride (Uma Thurman): “Kill Bill” — Hacking and slashing her way through two movies on a quest for vengeance, The Bride systematically makes her way through a deadly group of assassins with the goal of killing their leader and her former lover, the titular Bill (David Carradine). The Bride is so cool that Kobe Bryant stole her code name “Black Mamba” for his nickname. There’s not much else to say after that.
- Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver): “Alien” — At the top of our list we’ve got a woman so tough that mere humans aren’t enough of a challenge for her. Over the course of four movies, Ripley continually bests murderous space monsters and a cold foreboding cosmos where no one can hear you scream. Ripley pretty much redefined the role of women in the sci-fi/action genres taking them from victims or damsels in distress to tough-as-nails lone survivors. She is the queen and we are all her subjects.