‘Atomic’ starring Charlize Theron has once again reminded us of a concept that, although it seems current, is actually almost as old as the movie itself: that of actresses who, Or charismatic cohorts of the expressive gorilla of turn, distribute stoppage, handle heavy armament or string choreographies as effectively and forcefully as their male counterparts.
We are not going to fool ourselves: often the commercial hook of many of the films we are going to review is that of “and does all this despite being a woman”. Luckily, this point of view has already been overcome, and today the films of Zöe Bell, Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock or even Charlize Theron defend themselves, without comparisons.
It is true that we live a special claim of gender cinema without specifically addressing … well, gender. The fascinating and magnetic of Imperator Furiosa is that it functions as something much more interesting than a mere female ‘Mad Max’. And that’s what we’re going to review today: a selection of some action-movie women who are more than mere male versions of successful action actors.
For simplicity, we will focus on actresses who have dedicated themselves to gender or whose career is framed in it. We leave aside names that have participated in some important film but whose career is not oriented to the action cinema. Let the girls enter!
Put your name on a search engine and the image that will be returned to you will almost always be a variant of the already recognizable face of Mila wielding a pistol (or two) and aiming at the brain of a zombie. Her role as Alice in ‘Resident Evil’ is one of the most recognizable in modern action movies, and in fact, the franchise is one of the few that survives the box office swings with a certain slack.
The very personality of the series, which has neither the slightest sense nor needs, has prevented him from diversifying her roles into other types of roles, but her occasional forays into other adventure and action films have been interesting. From its cosmic presentation in ‘The fifth element’ to the forgettable ‘Ultraviolet’ passing through the hilarious ‘The Three Musketeers’ or the very rare and vindictive ‘Joan of Arc’.
Michelle Yeoh made a career in the West after the success of ‘Tiger and Dragon’, but in Hong Kong had already shot some of the best kung fu movies that are remembered.
When she became known in the West for ‘Tiger and Dragon’, the film that revitalized Hollywood’s interest in classic kung fu cinema, Michelle Yeoh was already a star in Hong Kong and among the most bombastic and action-packed moviegoers. The world. In fact, she had retired temporarily in the late 1980s after filming for the D & B Group some of the best action movies that are remembered, such as the legendary ‘Yes Madam’, ‘Invincible Warriors’ or the incredible ‘Ultra Force’.
She returned to the cinema in a high light, co-starring with Jackie Chan one of the most famous films in the West, ‘Supercop’, and before ‘Tiger and Dragon’ she filmed extraordinary action films and martial arts as ‘Heroic Trio’ (Along with two other First Ladies, Anita Mui and Maggie Cheung) and their sequel ‘Executioners’, ‘Tai Chi Master’ or ‘Wing Chun’.
After “Tiger and Dragon” has combined roles in the genre cinema with other more dramatic, as in “Memoirs of a geisha” (where she returned to work with one of the Asian actresses who also achieved worldwide fame with the Ang Lee film, Zhang Ziyi).
Her shocking participation in one of the best action films by women of recent times, ‘Death Proof’, not only brought to the forefront one of the most talented actresses on the screen, but a necessary claim of the Work of risk specialists in general, and of women in particular.
Bell is perhaps the most important professional in that field, and her work in productions like ‘Xena’, ‘Kill Bill’ or ‘Alias’, often doubling the stars, prove this. However, it is her charisma and sense of humor that have given him time and time again : her participation in films such as ‘The Big Take’, ‘Paradox’, ‘The Hateful Eight’, Camino or Plagiarism of ‘Los Mercenaries’ via The Asylum ‘Mercenaries’ is increasingly abundant.
Well known in the West as one of the queens of the 1980s video clubs, she earned a well-deserved reputation as the female equivalent of Chuck Norris, although Cynthia Rothrock outlasted karateka on a couple of issues. On the one hand, it had a total of interesting films superior to one and a half, and on the other, it was a much more versatile fighter. She demonstrated it in her film in company of Michelle Yeoh, ‘Ultraforce’
It was not the only film he shot in Hong Kong in the 1980s, where she became a star of considerable fame and where she filmed gems like ‘Edge of the Law’ or ‘Millionaires Express’. In the West her films are less interesting because they could not express her considerable strength, but she braced her own in titles like ‘China O’Brien’ or ‘Lady Dragon’.
As we have said, we will not dwell too much on essentially dramatic actresses who have made occasional forays into action. Actresses like Sigourney Weaver (though her Ripley is undoubtedly one of the main characters in action movies with women in the front) or Linda Hamilton (whose career beyond ‘Terminator’ is barely known).
However, it’s worth a stop in Angelina Jolie, an actress who, like every Hollywood star of high magnitude has played very different genres and, when she has incurred in the action, she has done with excellent results and great spectacular. Some of the milestones of her career could be the extraordinary ‘Salt’, the two deliveries of ‘Tomb Raider’, the fabulous’ Mr. And Mrs. Smith’ or the hilarious ‘Wanted’.
Its characteristic look disturbed the cinema of series B and exploitation of the seventy in Japan and it became one of the most relevant own names of the mythical Toei, after leaving of the Nikkatsu in spite of the fame that was obtaining with its films of delinquents Adolescents when the production company accentuated eroticism and violence in their productions. It was in Toei where Kaji found fame, with the mythical saga ‘Female Convict 701’.
But not only did she find fame with juvenile delinquency films, but also starred in the brutal epics of violence ‘Lady Snowblood’ and its sequel, as well as her collaborations with Kinji Fukasaku, as ‘Yakuza Graveyard’. The echo of her serene physical and expeditious explosions of violence can be found in films like ‘Kill Bill’ Tarantino, strongly influenced by Japanese cinema of the time.
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Half-solved until her recovery in Jackie Brown by Tarantino, she was the undisputed queen of cinema blaxploitation of the seventies. Since then she has earned a well-deserved fame as a character actress in productions such as the multi-award-winning ‘The L Word’, but hardcore female fans know where to look: in B-series productions like The Big Bird Cage, ‘Coffy’, ‘Foxy Brown’ or ‘Sheba Baby’.
Although she has starred in films of all kinds, it is one of the most recognizable faces of the legendary Hong Kong film producer of classic martial arts Shaw Brothers. In her almost sixty years she has participated in such significant films for the genre (almost always directed by the legendary Lau-kar Leung) as ‘Ho el Sucio’, ‘Return to Shaolin’ or, especially, the classics ‘The Claws of Tigress’ and ‘The Lady is the Boss’.
With it we break our rule again, but the Trinity of ‘Matrix’ deserves a place here to reformulate the aesthetics and style of women within the action films of the last decades : androgynous (or, at least, not loading the inks In female eroticism), independent, expert in martial arts, serious and without needing to justify its forcefulness with artifices about its physical aspect.
Milla Jovovich or Kate Beckinsale (protagonist of Underworld, perhaps the most popular exploit of Matrix) would not have made a career without the influence of Moss, a great actress and that would definitely be marked by the huge success of ‘Matrix’, despite Refused openly to continue the line marked by its more popular personage, getting to reject dozens of papers of pure trinity-xploitation.
The other great queen of classical martial arts cinema, thanks to her iconic participation in ‘Operation Dragon’ with Bruce Lee. Withdrawn from the early nineties and owner of a small chain of Chinese restaurants in New York, Mao lacks the technique and versatility of Kara Hui. But her iconic potential is overwhelming: some of her most notable films of the time with her as the protagonist could be ‘Lady Whirlwind’, ‘The Invincible Kung Fu Trio’ or ‘The Shrine of Ultimate Bliss’, originally planned to star Bruce Read.
A unique actress in the sense that she has a status that allows her to participate occasionally in blockbuster film productions like ‘Fast & Furious’, but at the same time maintains some continuity as protagonist of more modest productions and that allow themselves to be more violent, excessive and … well, and be starring a woman. Very aware of this, Michelle Rodriguez has expressed on more than one occasion her dissatisfaction with the female presence in action blockbusters.
While the thing changes, Rodriguez has devoted to the genre almost since its debut in ‘Girlfight’. Since then she has been seen in such prominent franchises as ‘Machete’, ‘Resident Evil’ or the aforementioned ‘Fast & Furious’. We only hope that in the future she will refrain from being carried away by such tempting but toxic roles as that of ‘Sweet Revenge’.
One of the great stars of the wave of female actresses that flooded the Hong Kong action film in the weeping eighties. Like so many other actresses of her generation, such as Cynthia Khan, her astounding elasticity – borrowed from her experience as a professional dancer – provided some graciousness to the very martial choreographies she had to perform.
Her debut came in the historic ‘Zu. Warriors of the Magic Mountain’, but it was the tremendous’ Iron Angels’ that made her and her fellow cast Yukari Oshima into stars. After them, she starred in a score of action films in just half a decade.