As we planned out Expendables 2 Week we noticed that action cinema, and The Expendables is kind of a sausage fest. The ladies of action hardly get the credit they deserve and they deserve a lot of it. After all, they do everything male stars do, but in high heels and backwards (to steal a phrase about Ginger Rogers). So while we’re all reliving the awesomeness that the plethora of male action stars delivers in The Expendables 2, let’s not forget that there’s plenty of badass women out there too.
To celebrate this, Flixist has put together a list of the women in movies we find to be the most awesome. We did avoid mentioning the ladies already brought up as stars of the next Expendables movie, but there are plenty more women out there that absolutely rock at action. Plus, they are way more attractive than Stallone’s aging mug.
If Zoë Bell’s name doesn’t ring a…bell, you can’t be blamed too much. She’s only been a speaking actress in a relatively small number of movies, compared to the other ladies on this list. However, you’ve seen her work as the number one female stuntwoman in the industry, starting out as Lucy Lawless’s double for Xena: Warrior Princess and later as Uma Thurman’s double for both parts of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. QT was so over the moon with her that he cast her in Death Proof as herself. Those parts where she was hanging onto the hood of the car while Stuntman Mike harried the girls at every literal turn in the road? That’s not CG or, with one wide shot as an exception, using a dummy. That’s actually her strapped to the car, with proper behind the scenes safety, of course. You can also find Zoë headlining Angel of Death, written by crime comics superstar Ed Brubaker, as well as in Tarantino’s upcoming Django Unchained. This is one badass who don’t need no stinkin’ stunt double. – Alex Katz
Noomi Rapace may be relatively new to the badass movie star thing, but damn, is she good at it. The Swedish actress’ breakout role was in the original versions of The Millennium Trilogy: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I recall that the original title for the Millennium Trilogy was “The Girl who Hated Men” or some such thing. As the titular character in these angry female revenge stories, Rapace has earned a place in many women’s hearts as almost a modern, punk version of Nemesis. She has also moved more recently into more mainstream action star roles, the latest of which includes being the main character Ridley Scott’s summer blockbuster, Prometheus. And all I have to say about that movie is, abortion machine. – Liz Rugg
Even though Michelle Rodriguez has been playing the same tanktop wearing badass who dies in almost every movie she’s been in for years now, it never once gets old. She’s such a badass, Hollywood has to kill her because they don’t know what to do with her. She began in Girl Fight and The Fast and the Furious, and slowly rose into the Latin bombshell badass that no longer lets death slow her down. Don’t you get it? She is too badass for death to handle. In The Fast and Furisix, she comes back because why not, in Resident Evil: Retribution she will come back as a zombie killing machine, and most recently in Machete, she only died to come back as a gun toting, eye patch wearing super Latina. They should just seriously give this woman her own franchise where she dies and comes back after every film like some kind of Latina badass Jesus. – Nick Valdez
JeeJa Yanin should become the new face of Thai action. Born Yanin Vismitananda, this deadly, nimble beauty is as bad ass as she is pretty. In Chocolate, she played an autistic girl who could mimic the fighting styles of anyone she saw, including Tony Jaa and Bruce Lee; and in Raging Phoenix, she put a breakdance-inspired beat down on a gang of human traffickers. She fights with incredible grace and athleticism, and she’s only 28. If there’s one criticism I have about her work so far though, it’s that’s she sometimes undersells the power of her moves. At just under 5’4″, she needs to add a little extra oomph to give every strike a convincing, bone-crunching heft. Maybe it’s just simple physics and all she needs is greasy fast speed (force = mass x acceleration), or maybe she can develop a fighting style and move set that works with her size. Whatever happens, she’s only just begun. The future is wide open, and she will collapse your windpipe with a spinning jump kick if you get in her way. Hail to the queen, baby. – Hubert Vigilla
Very few actors of any sex are badass enough to deliver a one-liner that will live forever. It takes a certain kind of badass to deliver the perfect line in the perfect way at the perfect time. “Get away from her, you bitch,” is one of those lines and Sigourney Weaver nails it like a true badass. Of course it helps that she’s been kicking alien ass for two whole movies before it while every male around her gets killed by Xenomorphs. If killing the queen Xenomorph isn’t enough for you let’s not forget that Ms. Weaver is also in charge of keeping evil from taking over the world by sacrificing idiot teenagers. – Matthew Razak
Earlier this year, I began my adventure into Sunnydale and the mythos of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not knowing much about the series and only having a partial portrait of Sarah Michelle Gellar in mind, I was expecting some cheesy, hoity-toity high school sitcom. Boy was I wrong. With a black belt in Taekwondo and a penchant for fashion trends, Gellar’s Buffy was known for her high kicks, both figuratively and literally. While she might not be as pedigreed as the other women on this list, Gellar’s long run as “The Slayer” should earn her on any list of female badasses. – Geoff Henao
What can be said about Kate Beckinsale other than she’s really good on her knees. Sure that sounds perverse, but what I really mean is in almost every movie she’s in, she’s slides on those knees of hers and causes maximum carnage. Whether it be dual pistols in the Underworld series, a blade of sorts in Van Hellsing, or even a remote control in Click (that happened, right?), she slides on her knees like a Minor League Baseball player and kicks ass like a Minor League Hockey player (the majors are for pussies). In Total Recall, rather than letting being unarmed hold her back, she slides towards Colin Farrell and attacks him with her VAGINA. No, seriously, HER VAGINA. If that’s not a strong resourceful woman who literally uses her sexuality to her advantage … then I don’t know how feminism works. – Andres Bolivar
Gina Carano could actually kick almost every person’s ass on this planet no matter what sex. As a female MMA fighter she’s pretty much the only person on this list who is legitimately lethal in the real world. She is, however, a relative newcomer to movies. But after delivering some of the most brutally real ass-kickings in the the underrated Haywire she’s established herself as an awesome fighter on screen. Hopefully we’ll get more of that kind of action when she hops on the screen again in Fast Six. Given the right movie, and the right fight scene she could become on of the biggest action stars of the next decade. – Matthew Razak
Pam Grier was a force to be reckoned with back in the seventies, dominating the blaxploitation genre with standout roles in Foxy Brown and Coffy. She could handle the guns, kick some ass, and seduced any man she wanted. She’s also notable for being the first African American woman to headline an action film, a feat that’s barely repeated even to this day. While her star waned after blaxploitation went out of vogue, she exploded back onto the scene with Quentin Tarantino’s amazing Jackie Brown, my personal favorite of all of QT’s movies. She was nominated for a dozen different acting awards for her performance of the take-no-shit flight attendant Jackie Brown. While she only appears in minor roles these days, I’ll always remember her as the baddest one-chick hit-squad that ever hit this town. – Alex Katz
While everyone else may remember Milla Jovovich from movies like The Fifth Element and Dazed and Confused, I remember her stint as Katinka Ingabogovina-na-na from Zoolander most because she was able to pull off such a goofy role and still be a believable mindless killing machine in the Resident Evil franchise and Ultraviolet. While she sometimes veers into serious actress territory (like with The Fourth Kind), she shines the most when she’s allowed to just whoop some serious zombie dog ass. I’d like to think that’s what she does everyday. You know, going grocery shopping and then being forced to whoop a dude’s ass because they wouldn’t take her coupons. I don’t really care what she does in the future, just as long as I get to see Milla being Milla. – Nick Valdez