Women of Action at Redbox!

by | Jan 20th, 2011 | 12:46PM | Filed under: DVD Reviews, Movie Lists, Movies

Sigourney Weaver in 1986′s Aliens wasn’t the first action woman in film–tough chicks with guns had been a staple of drive-in exploitation and blaxploitation flicks for decades. (It’s no coincidence Aliens director James Cameron came up through the ranks of Roger Corman’s B-movie mill.) But the moment Ellen Ripley learned how to lock and load a pulse rifle it signaled the mainstreaming of the female action hero.

Angelina Jolie carried the torch in the ’90s with the Tomb Raider movies, and in 2003 and ’04 Uma Thurman and Quentin Tarantino brought Asian-style cinematic female empowerment (and sword play) to American screens with Kill Bill.

But the past year has also seen the rise of a new kind of action lady: The hipster powerhouse with neon hair and deadly blades, a la Knives Chau and Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and of course that foul-mouthed, possibly sociopathic, instant grrl-power icon, Hit Girl in Kick-Ass. Not only will they slice, dice and stomp you, but they probably have better taste in music.

Here are 11 current films available from redbox where the gals hold their own–if not completely mop the floor (but not in a homemaker way)–with the guys around them.

Part of the Team

Maybe they’re not the stars or the leaders, but they do a fine job of keeping things from getting a little too testosterone-y.

Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2

Johansson’s executive assistant “Natalie Rushman” doesn’t have a lot to do in the first half of the movie, other than look great in pencil skirts. But when she finally busts out the high-kicking moves (and the black lycra catsuit) as Natasha Romanoff, aka The Black Widow, we get a good look at why Nick Fury wants her in his new Avengers Initiative.

Jessica Biel in The A-Team

Granted she’s not actually on The A-Team (at least not yet–here’s hoping for A-Team II), but Biel’s Army Intelligence officer measures up where it counts: in trading cutting, emasculating insults.

Giselle Itié in The Expendables

In this jacked-up He-Man movie where women exist mostly to be defended or rescued, at least Mexican-Brazilian telenovela star Itie gets to show some true grit as the defiant daughter of a tin-pot dictator. (And survive a water-boarding scene that plays like the worst wet-T-shirt contest ever.)

Alice Braga in Predators

The Predator movies have always included strong Latinas (Elpidia Carrillo in Predator, Maria Conchita Alonso in Predator 2), and Braga doesn’t let down the side (she also held her own in Repo Men). Along with Adrien Brody and Walton Goggins, she’s one of the best things about this recent update.

On Their Own

Despite the ground gained by Ripley 25 years ago in Aliens, some folks still cling to the old saw that people don’t want to see women as the solo stars of action films. Tell that to the nearly $600 million combined box office Salt and Resident Evil: Afterlife hauled in internationally in 2010, or the month both have spent in the top five of the DVD charts. Men? Who needs ‘em?

Angelina Jolie in Salt

Captain Kirk a rocket out of table leg, fire extinguisher, and cleaning products? Check. Shimmy along a dangerous ledge? Check. Make handy use of spider venom? Check. Choke someone to death with their own handcuffs? Check! Jolie’s super-spy Evelyn Salt (a role originally written for Tom Cruise) does it all with Alien-Queen allure and Night-on-the-Volga style.

Mila Jovovich in Resident Evil: Afterlife

In Jovovich’s fourth zombie-killing outing, her Alice is the female version of the classic Eastwood/Bronson/Schwarzenegger Stoic Hero: Cool, detached, and aloof, she rides into town and reluctantly saves the folks (including the men) around her without ever cracking a smile.

Stealing the Show

Who needs top billing? These women (and girl-women) stepped up and walked away with the movie.

Zoe Saldana in The Losers

I’ve been informed I’ve exceeded the limit for number of times I can run that picture of Zoe in her skin-tight red pants. Oh well. But (no pun intended, I swear), between Star Trek, The Losers and Avatar, Ms. Saldana has become the go-to gal when you want someone who will leave the boys (both on her team and in the theater) standing around slack jawed.

Olga Kurylenko and Axelle Carolyn in Centurion

Director Neil Marshall’s no stranger to stories with strong females (see: The Descent), so when he sics a posse of 2nd Century Picts on his Roman soldiers on the run across Scotland, he makes sure two of them are bad-ass women. Kurylenko’s Etain is mute, but relentlessly ruthless; and Marshall’s wife Carolyn plays an archer with a habit of shooting folks in the back.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ellen Wong in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim may be a bit of a wuss who has to learn how to stand up and defend his callow slacker existence. But Winstead’s Ramona Flowers is a fine teacher–not only does she swing a mean hammer, but thanks to her “sexy phase” she knows some nifty knee-touch tricks. And Wong’s young Knives Chau may start out naive, but by the end she’s earned her sword-wielding battle cry, “Steal my boyfriend, taste my steel!”

Chloë Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass

You can’t quote Hit Girl’s best lines in a family blog, but from the moment she appears on screen (getting shot in her bullet-proof vest by Dad) through her riotous smack-downs to “The Banana Splits Song” and Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” the pint-sized pre-teen is out to provoke, outrage, empower, and generally, well, kick ass.

And Of Course…

Noomi Rapace in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire

The late Stieg Larsson may have written his Millennium Trilogy thrillers while picturing himself as the crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist, but we all know who we’re really there for. Men who hate women, beware: Golf clubs, tasers, computer keyboards all become deadly weapons in Lisbeth Salander’s hands.


So now let’s hear it from you: Who are your all-time favorite Women of Action in the movies?

22 Responses to “Women of Action at Redbox!”

  1. Brandon Lang
    Posted on January 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Great list of action chicks. Gotta love it. New one was coming out for new DVD releases that I found on http://www.filmcrave.com/dvd_new.php I think it was Piranha 3D that had Elizabeth Sue as killer female action star.

  2. Jennifer Sci Fi Friend
    Posted on January 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Long Live Ripley! And you left Sarah Connor off, why?

    I am trying to find play nice in the sandbox voice to respond….

  3. Locke Peterseim
    Locke Peterseim
    Posted on January 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Jenn, I wasn’t trying to list ALL the action women of all time — and since I mentioned Ripley, I felt I had Cameron covered.

  4. Jennifer Sci Fi Friend
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Uh, you were the one who asked the question “Who are your all-time favorite Women of Action in the movies”?, not me….

  5. Locke Peterseim
    Locke Peterseim
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Right, and Sarah Conner is very much NOT one of my favorite Action Women :) Too crazy, too obsessed :)

  6. twilight
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Good list. There’s also Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux. You may not like the movie or the actress, but I really liked the movie. And yes Angelina was very good in “Salt” as she was in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”, and she wasn’t bad in “Wanted” either.
    Just saying

  7. klavo
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Jenn, i think the key here is: “Here are 11 current films available from redbox where the gals hold their own–if not completely mop the floor (but not in a homemaker way)–with the guys around them.”

    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I think the toughest woman ever was Jennifer Garrner who had the TV series.She is now married to Ben Afflect.Remember her?Can I nominate her?

    • Currently 5/5 Stars
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Angelina Jolie is of course the over-all winner for ‘Women of Action’! I say in anything she has done… she puts the ‘A’ in Action!!!!!

  9. waletts
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Kick-Ass Bad-girl-in-training Chloë Grace Moretz – would love to see her in something more. What’s her age? 13? 16?

    • Currently 5/5 Stars
    Marty Fox
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Gene Davis in “Long Kiss Goodnight”, drown her, shoot her, beat her and all you did was tick her off. And also always the loving mother!

  10. Janet Kroenke
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Ripley, ever and always. The best.

  11. Juan
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    I agree that there’s other good female characters, but like he stated, this is a list for the girls in movies that are CURRENTLY available for rent in REDBOX. Love the list ;).

    • Currently 4/5 Stars
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    GEENA DAVIS “The Long Kiss Goodnight”

  12. Craig Hadfield
    Posted on January 24, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    A Few more badass women:-

    Natasha Henstridge – Species

    Uma Thurman – Kill Bill

    Carrie-ann Moss – Matrix

    And Rene Russo in Lethal Weapon 3 and 4.

  13. Cybertuna
    Posted on January 25, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Lisbeth Salander has got to be the most hard core of any of these. First off, she’s a more realistic and believable character. Secondly, dang! She got brutally raped by her guardian and what does she do? Whimper and cry in a corner? Heck no! She goes and rapes him BACK and tattoos him to make sure he NEVER does it again! Hard core!

    • Currently 5/5 Stars
    Posted on January 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Truly a great list of perfect deadly ladies in every sense of the word. Looks and brains and courage and savvy that lead the box office charge in grand style. Nicely written and a definitely appreciated recognition of some truly great actors. And I must add the fabulous Helen Mirren…

  14. Locke Peterseim
    Locke Peterseim
    Posted on January 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Ooooh dang, Sable — I should have included Mirren in RED! It wasn’t out on DVD last week, so I didn’t think of it, but it and she would be a PERFECT addition to this list!

    And while the list is just women from recent DVD titles, by all means feel free to tell us your ALL TIME favorite female action heroines!

  15. David
    Posted on January 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    How bout J Lo when she comes back and kicks her drunk, wife beating Ex’s ass!

  16. Jennifer Sci Fi Friend
    Posted on January 26, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Klavo – Thanks a friend finally pointed that one out to me and I had the aha moment. However, Locke did ask Who are your ALL time favorite female action stars. Why should he leave himself out in his opening paragraph? Sure, Ripley is the ultimate as always just wanted a little more from him.

    I would so remove Scarlett Johansson. Such a stretch. Any really Jessica Biel? Other than that I agree with most of the list realizing the boundaries.