Actress Milla Jovovich returns as Alice in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, which opened in cinemas yesterday. Aref Omar charts some fictional kick-ass Hollywood action heroines
1. ALIENS (1986)
She outlives a badass group of marines on an alien-infested planet, rescues a little girl from the nasty xenomorphs and emerges victorious in a battle royal against their ferocious alien queen. Driven by inner strength, heart, steely determination, maternal instinct and working-class grit, Ellen Ripley embodies a sexy empowered woman persona without being physically revealing or muscular. Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal of the character was so potent, she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress — a practically unheard of accomplishment for a sci-fi movie.
2. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)
In the first film, she was a wimp needing protection. In the sequel, Sarah Connor evolves into a fierce, chin-up-executing and gun-totting mother who fights hard to prevent a future machine apocalypse. Linda Hamilton imbues the character with a dangerous edge as she battles the relentless new mimetic polyalloy T-1000 terminator, alongside young son John Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s older T-800 android character.
3. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1992)
Writer Joss Whedon subverts the damsel in distress cliche by making the titular petite, blonde cheerleader a butt-kicking, vampire-dusting heroine instead, in this horror comedy with Kristy Swanson in the lead. In 1997, Whedon created a TV series version, with Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, which enjoyed a successful seven season run.
4. TOMB RAIDER (2001)
Based on the popular video game, it follows the thrilling adventures of intrepid British archeologist Lara Croft (a way sexier version of Indiana Jones). Fanboys worldwide got excited as Angelina Jolie took on the role, which she reprised in the 2003 sequel. Jolie went on to flex her action heroine muscles in films like Mr & Mrs Smith (2005), Wanted (2008) and Salt (2010). Meanwhile, a film reboot is scheduled for a release next year, with Alicia Vikander as Croft.
5. CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2002)
Our very own Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh shines as the dignified yet fearsome warrior Yu Shu Lien in this internationally co-produced wuxia film, directed by Ang Lee. The Oscar, Golden Globe and Bafta-winning film is set during the Qing Dynasty and sees the elegant actress easily switching between a dramatic performance and a physical one, utilising various weapons to great effect in the process. Yeoh, no stranger to kinetic roles, has starred in other action flicks
such as Yes, Madam (1985), Police Story 3: Super Cop (1992) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).
6. KILL BILL VOL. 1 (2003)
This two-part (Vol. 2 in 2004) homage to the grindhouse cinema of old by director Quentin Tarantino stars Uma Thurman as The Bride, who exacts vengeance on a group of deadly assassins who betrayed her, after waking from a coma. Scary in the first part but more sympathetic in the second, the samurai sword-wielding Bride maintains her awesome lethality throughout by cutting foes down left, right and centre, plucking out an opponent’s eye and dispatching the titular villain by employing the “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique”.
7. UNDERWORLD (2003)
In the fight between the vampires and werewolves in this longstanding action horror franchise stands badass Death Dealer Selene, played by comely Brit actress Kate Beckinsale. Broody and clinical, the gothic heroine deals with the surrounding drama and conflicts with utmost lethal precision. A sixth film, as well as a TV series, is purported to be in development.
8. IRON MAN 2 (2010)
This movie introduced the skin-tight, leather-clad superspy Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow, to film fans worldwide. Witty, intelligent, courageous and selfless, the dazzlingly dangerous and acrobatic heroine has since become a mainstay in other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (she surely deserves her own standalone movie, no?). Sultry actress Scarlett Johansson, who plays her, has starred in another action movie, Lucy (2014), which made over RM2 billion at the box office worldwide.
9. THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)
Jennifer Lawrence becomes the heroine for a new generation with her commanding role as Katniss Everdeen. Adapted from the uber-popular young adult dystopian trilogy of books, the successful film and its three sequels follow the various trials and tribulations of the spunky, resourceful and chivalrous teen, in her quest for survival after being forced to participate in the titular televised fight-to-the-death competition.
10. BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016)
DC Comics most powerful superheroine makes a head-turning debut here, and holds her own alongside the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight. A peace-loving emissary for her all-ladies homeland of Themyscira, the gallant Amazonian warrior can also dish out some hard justice with ease. Played by Gal Gadot, fans are eagerly awaiting her solo movie that will hit cinemas in June.