They fight dirty and hit hard. Here are 10 women who are kicking ass on the big screen
Sonakshi Sinha, 30
Kickass film: Akira
Sonakshi Sinha’s Akira made us believe that even regular women like us have the power — and we mean physical — to defeat those who would harm us. There was nothing flashy or over-the-top about her action sequences in Akira, making it so much more believable.
Best action sequence: When she first mock-pleads with the bullies in her class to not make her hurt them (*snigger*) and then takes them down one by one — kick, slap, thwack! — in the college canteen.
Rani Mukerji, 39
Kickass film: Mardaani
As a cop fighting to stop trafficking, Rani Mukerji’s Shivani Shivaji Roy is tough, gruff and unafraid of breaking rules to bring the culprits to heel. She slaps goons twice her size without a flinch and runs to pull men off motorcycles without breaking into a sweat. She doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger when needed and lets her hands do the talking most of the time. Who said women can’t play tough cops?
Best action sequence: The final fight in which she takes on Tahir Raj Bhasin’s Karan in a hand-to-hand combat, showing off everything from karate to Krav Maga.
Scarlett Johansson, 33
Kickass films: Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Lucy, Ghost in the Shell
We fell in love the first time she donned that black suit and took down a dozen Hammer Security men in Iron Man 2. Over the next four Marvel movies, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow kept up her no-nonsense sass as she did her killer moves. So much so it left us rooting for a solo Black Widow movie. She went full throttle in Luc Besson’s Lucy where she gained super powers because of a drug. Her escape scene was a classic. Ghost in the Shell may have bombed but there was nothing wrong with her action sequences.
Best action sequence: Every single Black Widow fight sequence, but the one that follows the “interrogation” session in the beginning of The Avengers is special.
Michelle Rodriguez, 39
Kickass films: Resident Evil franchise, Fast and Furious franchise, Machette Kills, Avatar
Michelle Rodriguez is the epitome of the kickass heroine with a badass attitude. Subtlety is not really a part of the vocabulary of the characters she plays and whether she is in a bra and skimpy skirt or loose pants and tank top, she oozes oomph without looking or behaving remotely girlie. She may have had to always play second fiddle, whether it is to Dom in the Fast and Furious franchise or to Alice in Resident Evil or as the pilot in Avatar, but she always holds her own and is someone you are glad to see show up in an action movie.
Best action sequence: That sequence with Ronda Rousey in Furious 7 where she kicks ass in a beautiful red dress.
Taapsee Pannu, 30
Kickass film: Baby, Naam Shabana
So explosive was her special appearance as field agent Shabana in Baby — that scene in the hotel where she punches and kicks, all guns blazing, was a standout — that she got her spin-off film, a prequel where we see how Shabana became a spy. Krav Maga, Kudo, Mixed Martial Arts, shooting guns... there is nothing that Taapsee didn’t do in Naam Shabana. We wouldn’t mind seeing more of her kicking ass on screen.
Best action sequence: That scene — again in a hotel room in Goa — where she patiently waits outside for hours and then walks in in the wee hours to take on the man who killed her boyfriend. With her bare hands.
Gal Gadot, 32
Kickass film: Wonder Woman
The gorgeous Gal Gadot played an undercover operative in Keeping Up With The Joneses, where she did some action, and she was part of two Fast and Furious movies where she was more about looking pretty than getting a few kicks in. But it was her turn as Wonder Woman that earned her a spot on this list. From the very first training montage to the last CGI-infested battle, she made our jaws drop with her grace in fighting.
Best action sequence: Without a doubt, the fight that followed her superhero reveal at the No Man’s Land in the war front. #WhatAGal
Special mention: The woman who almost stole the show from Gadot’s Diana Prince when it came to graceful action and power — Robin Wright’s Antiope. She was like a missile in the battle with the Germans on Themyscira and what a delight to watch.
Kate Beckinsale, 44
Kickass films: The Underworld series, Van Helsing, Total Recall
She has better superhero landings than the superheroes in the superhero films. Her leather-clad, cloak-flying landings from top of buildings, bridges and mountains in the five Underworld films are awe-inspiring as are her gun-toting ease, icy-blue eyes and hand-to-hand combat skills. We loved Kate Beckinsale as the baddie in Total Recall and her vampire-killing skills in the otherwise terrible Van Helsing, but it is her turn as the werewolf-annihilating vampire Selena in the Underworld series that really takes the cake.
Best action sequence: The last fight between Selena and Marcus in Underworld: Evolution.
Milla Jovovich, 42
Kickass films: Resident Evil franchise, Ultraviolet
She wore white strips on her body while kicking alien ass as far back as 1997 in The Fifth Element. But it was as Alice in Resident Evil (2004) that she became somewhat of a trendsetter when it came to women in action films. Give her a gun or two or a sword or a knife or a couple of daggers and Milla Jovovich will give you one hell of a fight against humans and zombies. Whether she’s in a slinky red dress, or rags and leather suits and khakis and completely covered in zombie gore, it never takes away from her sexiness.
Best action sequence: The white corridor sequence in Resident Evil: Retribution. The library fight from Ultraviolet comes a close second.
Charlize Theron, 42
Kickass films: Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde
Charlize Theron set a new standard for female action heroes. She stole the show from Tom Hardy in Fury Road, not an easy task and which was made tougher with his character’s name in the title. Theron was ferocious as the one-armed Imperator Furiosa, and then she slipped into the skin of a spy for Atomic Blonde, punching and kicking her way through Berlin and into our hearts. The best part was that none of the fights looked staged or choreographed, and every blow she took showed.
Best action sequence: It is a toss-up between the savage stairwell fight towards the end of Atomic Blonde and the apartment fight right at the beginning.
Katrina Kaif, 34
Kickass films: Ek Tha Tiger, Tiger Zinda Hai
If there is one woman in Bollywood who deserves the moniker ‘Action Queen’, it has to be Kat. She is not afraid to get down and dirty and be covered in gore and grime, if Ek Tha Tiger and Tiger Zinda Hai are anything to go by. Tall and lithe, Kat had us with her parkour skills as Zoya, the Pakistani spy, in the first Tiger film. In the second, she showed moves that would make Angelina Jolie proud.
Best action sequence: When she takes down the gangster called Baghdadi and his men single-handedly after infiltrating the City Council. The way she takes off her burkha and calmly slits the man’s throat is simply WOW. And then proceeds to take down his cohorts, with the soulful Tera noor playing in the background. This wasn’t action, it was poetry in motion.
Angelina Jolie, 42
Kickass films: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider — The Cradle of Life, Mr and Mrs Smith, Salt, Wanted
Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft was a trendsetter for female action stars. We couldn’t get enough of her acrobatic skills or her sexy tanks and catsuits. Mr and Mrs Smith, Salt and Wanted were other films in which she took down goons, and once even her own screen husband, played by Brad Pitt!
Best action sequence: Remember the one in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider where the mansion is attacked and she is in her PJs? Or when she flew through air on a motorcycle while shooting at enemies? Or the wingsuit jump in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider — The Cradle of Life?
Uma Thurman, 47
Kickass films: Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2
That Bruce Lee-inspired yellow suit, the katana, the clear and controlled moves — The Bride was truly iconic and so was the woman who gave it shape — Uma Thurman. Cold, brutal and gory, this Quentin Tarantino cult classic and Thurman were the embodiment of the saying “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.
Best action sequence: There can be none other than The Bride’s fight with Gogo and the Crazy 88 at the House of Blue Leaves restaurant in Tokyo.
Text: Chandreyee Chatterjee
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