the kick-ass women project

This page is a part of my ongoing project to collect, categorize, review and rank movies and TV shows that prominently feature kick-ass women. So far, I’ve been working my way through various movies and TV shows, and including them in lists (in batches of 9 and 10) in my blog posts.

June 12, 2007
While most of this project has been in the form of lists, I have a few non-list posts that might be of interest:

  • Mrs. Peel, you’re needed. Read about Emma Peel, my idol, and kick-ass woman extraordinaire. This was the post where I set out on this journey.
  • on kicking ass. A post where I start to define what I mean by the term “kick-ass woman”
  • on kick-ass women characters. This one has a link to a speech given by Joss Whedon where he answers the big question: Why do you write such strong women characters?
  • Michelle Yeoh: kicking ass in “Supercop”. My first forray into the realm of a review.
  • And as for the lists. Here’s a list of lists in the project so far:

    Kick-ass women project meta-list

  • movies I love or at least like moderately well (1, 2, 3, 4)
  • movies I need to see (5, 6)
  • movies I found disappointing (7)
  • movies I don’t expect to like (8)
  • movies that feature kick-ass women who kick ass more figuratively than literally (9)
  • TV shows (10, 11 and 12)
  • another blogger has put together a related list of Hong Kong movies, and then another list of 10 more kick-ass women movies she likes
  • December 22, 2006: Since my lists are starting to get cumbersome, I’ve decided to start the consolidation process, and put all my lists in one place. This page will be changing over time as I make more lists. For now, I’m just putting the existing lists wholesale on this page. At some point, I’ll integrate them into a master list. (To view the original posts, with intros and comments, click on the title of each list.)

    9 of Alejna’s favorite kick-ass women movies

    1. Supercop (1992)
      Michelle Yeoh steals the show from Jackie Chan.
    2. The Professional (1994)
      More of a kick-ass girl movie. At 12, Natalie Portman shows that you don’t have to be old enough to drive to kick some ass.
    3. Strange Days (1995)
      Angela Bassett saves the day (and Ralph Fienne’s undeserving ass).
    4. Tank Girl (1995)
      Lori Petty shows some serious attitude in a seriously fun movie.
    5. Fargo (1996)
      Frances McDormand is more about brains than brawn as a pregnant sheriff in this Cohen brothers masterpiece.
    6. The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
      Another fun movie, with lots of action. Geena Davis plays an amnesiac spy/assassin. (Sound familiar, Matt Damon?)
    7. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
      Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi (and more, even!) in a truly beautiful martial arts movie.
    8. Kill Bill, volume 1 (2003)
      For her role in this movie, I’m almost able to forgive Uma Thurman for her betrayal portrayal of Emma Peel in 1998.
    9. Serenity (2005)
      Gina Torres and Summer Glau kick ass in space. (Also in the show, but I’m not talking about TV right now.)

    9 more of Alejna’s favorite kick-ass women movies

    1. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
      Everybody knows this one. Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) kicks ass by keeping her wits about her.
    2. Terminator 2 (1991)
      I particularly like the transformation of Linda Hamilton’s character from the first movie. Sadly, I can barely stomach watching this now due to my loathing of Arnold. (I’m partial to definition 3 on that link, if you decide to follow it.)
    3. Wing Chun/Yong Chun (1994)
      Michelle Yeoh serves up bean curd and ass-kicking in this historic costume drama.
    4. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
      Calling Michelle Yeoh a Bond Girl doesn’t do her justice. She could so kick Pierce Brosnan’s skinny ass. (I don’t buy her need of rescuing at the end.)
    5. Mulan (1998)
      Not Disney’s typical I-need-a-man (to borrow a term from a friend) animated fare.
    6. Run Lola Run/Lola Rennt (1998)
      Franka Potente runs to the rescue, and runs and runs.
    7. The Matrix (1999)
      Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) kicks ass through most of the movie, but I have issues with the way she turns into a puddle of goo over Keanu.
    8. Mystery Men (1999)
      Janeane Garofalo doesn’t have as big of role as I’d like, but she kicks ass in so many ways, I had to have her on a list soon. Plus, the movie is just so much fun.
    9. Charlie’s Angels (2000)
      Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu get extra points for having done intensive martial arts training for this movie, and doing their own stunts. Plus I appreciate the tongue-in-cheek tone.

    9 more kick-ass women movies

    1. Peking Opera Blues/Do ma daan (1986)
      Brigitte Lin, Cherie Chung, Sally Yeh in 1920’s China. I don’t actually remember too much about this movie just now, but I do remember that I enjoyed it. (An added bonus was the entertaining subtitles, with lines like “you see the uppest window…”) I look forward to watching this one again.
    2. Batman Returns (1992)
      Even though she’s no Eartha Kitt, I actually really like Michelle Pfeiffer in her role as Catwoman. (The rest of the movie is so-so, though I appreciate Tim Burton’s style.)
    3. Bride with White Hair/Bai fa mo nu zhuan (1993)
      Brigitte Lin stars in this beautiful Hong Kong fantasy. Lots of swordplay.
    4. Heroic Trio/Dung fong saam hap (1993) Maggie Cheung, Anita Mui, Michelle Yeoh kick ass in gloriously dark Hong Kong style.
    5. The Replacement Killers (1998)
      Mira Sorvino was great in this movie. Too bad she doesn’t do more action movie roles.
    6. Hero/Ying xiong (2002)
      Maggie Cheung and Ziyi Zhang show some impressive martial arts skills in this interesting, complex, and beautifully made film.
    7. X2/X-men 2 (2003)
      While the first X-men movie will make it onto a list at some point, I actually thought the women made a better showing in the second movie. Halle Berry (Storm) and Famke Janssen (Jean Grey) do a decent job of kicking ass. Rebecca Romijn (Mystique) does a better one.
    8. Kill Bill, Volume 2 (2004)
      The first one is already on an earlier list, but this one deserves mention also. Uma kicks ass reasonably well in this one, too. There is not quite so much action as in the first, but I do like the homage to the Hong Kong cinema martial arts training tradition. (Hmm. Hong Kong cinema martial arts training tradition. There’s a long compound for you.)
    9. The Incredibles (2004)
      Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) makes a decent show of it in this fun Pixar production.

    Another 9 kick-ass women movies

    1. A View to a Kill (1985)
      Grace Jones (Mayday) played an atypical “Bond Girl” role in this one. Not restricted to the role of pillowy soft femininity to bolster the masculinity of Bond.
    2. La Femme Nikita/Nikita (1990)
      This is an important movie that probably should have appeared on one of my earlier lists. Anyhow, a great movie, and a great role. Anne Parillaud kicks ass in style. And in French. Perhaps even in French style.
    3. Thelma & Louise (1991)
      This is more about kick-ass strength of character than ass-kicking action, but this movie is still a classic of the kick-ass women genre. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon take no prisoners.
    4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
      It’s not the amazingly great TV show, but still fun. Kristy Swanson’s portrayal of Buffy is still worthy of being labelled kick-ass.
    5. League of Their Own (1992)
      I’m not generally a big fan of sports movies, but this one is worth mentioning, especially since it’s based on some real-life women who kicked ass, in their way.
    6. Iron Monkey/ Siu nin Wong Fei Hung ji Tit Ma Lau (1993)
      Jean Wang plays a supporting role, but holds her own and kicks ass along with Donnie Yen. This movie also scores extra points because the kick-ass young boy in the movie was actually played by a kick-ass young girl. And it’s a great martial arts movie, overall.
    7. Supercop 2/Chao ji ji hua (1993)
      It may be pretty clear that I am a big fan of Michelle Yeoh. In this one, she reprises her role from Supercop (the one with Jackie Chan). It wasn’t a super movie, but it did have some super ass-kicking scenes.
    8. X-Men (2000)
      While this movie gets points for having women superheroes, I actually found the X-Women to be a wee bit wimpy. Especially in the fight scenes–they only kick moderate ass. On the other hand, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique counterbalances with a more impressive display of ass-kicking, and is menacing to boot.
    9. Mrs. & Mrs. smith (2005)
      I can’t say I loved this movie, but I did appreciate the kick-assedness of Angelina Jolie’s character.

    9 kick-ass women movies I need to see

    1. Coffy (1973)
    2. Foxy Brown (1974)
      Two 70’s classics starring Pam Grier. I’m curious, but wary. Wary of the 70’s mostly, I guess.
    3. Aliens (1986)
    4. Alien 3 (1992)
    5. Alien Resurrection (1997)
      It’s pretty shocking that I’ve never seen any of the movies in the Alien franchise. Especially considering that Sigourney Weaver’s role of Ellen Ripley is legendary in the kick-ass woman genre. These are at the top of my to-see list. (I need to see the first one, too, but I understand that Ripley is not yet too kick-ass yet in that one.)
    6. GI Jane (1997)
      More military than most of the kick-ass women movies I watch. Demi Moore stars in this one as woman in a Navy Seals training.
    7. Die Another Day (2002)
      Halle Berry is supposed pretty good in this, though I’ve heard it’s not a great Bond movie overall.
    8. House of Flying Daggers/Shi mian mai fu (2004)
      I believe this one is supposed to be pretty good. It’s got Zhang Ziyi. I have high hopes.
    9. Elektra (2005)
      This should have been great. I heard it wasn’t. I’d sill like to check it out. Jennifer Garner reprises (somewhat) her role from Daredevil.

    40 thoughts on “the kick-ass women project

    1. You havne’t seen Aliens. You need to right now. I mean, right now. Skip the third and Alien Resurrection.

      But anyways, I was thinking of another movie. It’s a woman kicking ass, but she’s evil.

      It’s an old movie called Leave Her To Heaven.

      Which makes me think that The Hand That Rocks The Cradle is probably a good kick ass woman movie.

    2. I just wanted to stop by and thank you for your comments on my blog. I also think this project is pretty cool. I, too, like kick-ass women, but I confess a bias for the evil ones.

    3. I think you’re going to have to subject yourself to Underworld, because Kate Beckinsale kicks serious ass as a werewolf-hunting uber-vamp(ire) — all while wearing some kind of rubber body suit, no less.

    4. Just started checking your site out – very cool. Current kick-ass women’s show – Women’s Murder Club. Detective, ADA, and Medical Examiner solving murders (based on books by James Patterson).

    5. Mark-
      I have actually seen Underworld, but it’s fuzzy in my memory. I guess I should re-watch.

      I should definitely put her on my “to watch” list.

      Hello, and thanks! I hadn’t heard of the show, but I should investigate. (Hmm, that was an unintential pun.)

    6. You brought back memories with Tank Girl – my college roommate and I used to watch it over and over drinking beer and cheering. Definitely re-watch Underworld and we need to start a list of TV shows! (My short attention span and usually being tired don’t permit me to watch a whole movie.)

    7. You do have a lot of good movies on here and it gave me some ideas, as I’m compiling a list with a further goal of editing a kick ass women video.

      Aliens should definitely be up near the top of your queue, but I don’t think you should skip the first one, as Ripley is certainly kick ass in that. Alien 3 as well. Alien Res is not that great, she still kicks ass though and I think that’s the criteria.

      I hated Underworld and Aeon Flux… those actresses did not kick ass… they just ran around pretending to, unconvincingly. They would just mar the achievements made by Sigourney, Yeoh, and other genuinely badass females.

      PS – True Romance has a kick ass sequence with Patricia Arquette you might want to investigate.

    8. Terrific lists. Some great movies on there.

      Not sure if you live in Los Angeles, but the Silent Movie Theatre is doing a whole series of kick-ass women movies every Sunday through March and April. They’re showing Michelle Yeoh’s first film Yes, Madam and the sequel, among many others.

      They have a website –

    9. I really like this list kick ass women list. You can also have this for TV shows.
      At least now I don’t have to watch random crap which i chose according to my intuition.

      Btw Alien Resurrection is amazing but you will have to watch Alien previous parts which are also very amazing.

      And thanks, I found out that Summer Glau is in Serenity(a movie which I had for 4 years never watched). I love her acting in the TV show Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles in which she portrays a female robot sent from future. If you make a kick ass women TV you must add this show.

    10. Yeah, you NEED to watch Alien(s). You wont be disappointed. (Just be aware that 3 and Res are not as good)

      Aliens is the type of movie where you get a room full of any gender to watch it, then after the movie every one is cheering.

    11. While a lot of these are good movies with kick ass women in them, many still have the problem that either A the female is not at all the lead chracter or B the kind of “kick ass” these women are protraying is a masculine version of kick ass that they are adhereing to to be read as such. Lets think of movies and tv shows where women are being kick ass as women and they are the ones having the adventure. like say pippi longstocking or Laberynth or sisterhood of the traveling pants… kick ass women are not just women kicking ass the way men have been protrayed.

    12. PS another problem i forgot to mention is many of the women in power in some of the movies listed as well as in teh mainstream media are the villan. So either they are made to act like men or their power is associated with what a giant ‘bitch’ they are.

    13. Stereotypes… There are really no clean way of fighting them: if you go too far out, then you create/fall into the “mirror” stereotype. e.g. Asian women: Lotus Blossom and Dragon Lady. 2 sides of the same coin (or blade). When I am not being a stereotype police, I enjoy almost all of the movies you listed. Leaving a comment to ask whether you have seen “Bound”.

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s