On this International Women’s Day I would like to take the time to pay a little respect to the more than deserving but usually unheralded women who have kicked all manner of ass in action movies but who are not named Sarah Connor, Lara Croft, Beatrix Kiddo, Evelyn Salt, or the Ellen Ripley (lovely lady in the heavy machinery pictured above). So without further ado continue on to read my picks for the most underrated action heroines in movie history!
5. Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra), DOOMSDAY
If you have never seen DOOMSDAY then I implore you to seek this film out and watch it. It isn’t great cinema or anything but it is so over the top that I can’t help but love it. Neil Marshall (the director of THE DESCENT) goes balls out in his bid to make a truly memorable midnight movie, exploitive extravaganza and he pulls it off spectacularly. At the center of this beautiful mess is the bionic eyed Eden Sinclair. The fact that Sinclair is a blatant homage to Snake Plissken just makes the character even cooler as she tears her way through plague infected cannibals without ever breaking her reptilian stoicism.
4. Kathy Galagher (Cynthia Rothrock), LADY DRAGON
Ex-CIA agent Kathy Galagher’s life was turned upside down when a Eurotrash arms dealer named Ludwig Hauptmann killed her husband. Bieng the tough as nails mistress of martial arts that she was, Kathy was not going to sit by and let this act go unpunished so she set off to exact revenge on Ludwig. Things didn’t go quite that smoothly for Kathy on the road to vengeance. She has to join an underground fighting circuit to get close to Ludwig but things go south and she gets raped by Ludwig and left for dead. After being nursed back to fighting form by some elderly Asian man and his grandson, Kathy agrees to have a fight to the death with Ludwig. Of course Ludwig kidnaps the old guy and the kid, threatening to kill them if Kathy doesn’t let him beat he to death. But even after taking a hellacious beating that would have killed a normal human being Kathy gets a reprieve when the CIA shows up to rescue the old dude and the kid which allows Kathy to beat Ludwig almost to death (including a crazy three kick combo to his nuts).
3. Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON
Ziyi Zhang may have gotten most of the attention as the brash Jen Yu but for my money Michelle Yeoh killed it as the world weary Yu Shu Lien. She was majestic in her fight scenes and heartbreaking in scenes that showed her anguished yearning for friend and fellow warrior Li Mu Bai. Shu Lien was the heart and soul of CROUCHING TIGER as well as being just as impressive when it came time to kick some butt.
2. Charley Baltimore (Geena Davis), THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT
Geena Davis kicked butt as an amnesiac CIA agent who after a botched mission ended up living a simple life as a suburban single mother until a private investigator she hired (played by the always awesome Samuel L. Jackson) helps her recover her memories and accidentally alerts the people who tried to kill her that she is in fact still alive. Charley was deadly and initially very cold-blooded until she realized that she enjoyed her quiet suburban life. But that didn’t make her miss a beat when it came time to kill all those who betrayed her including the father of her child.
1. Foxy Brown (Pam Grier), FOXY BROWN
Foxy Brown was minding her own business when a drug syndicate killed her government agent boyfriend. This loss sent her on a revenge fueled killing spree that saw her using her kung fu skills to beat information out of jive turkeys, shooting drug dealers (with a gun she kept stashed in her afro!), castrating men, crashing into people with single engine planes, and even cremating bad guys while almost every time going undercover as a hooker or some other type of sex worker. This rampage culminated in her going up against a kinky middle-aged swinging couple that somehow was running a large drug ring. And she has a killer theme song!