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Action Girl: Live-Action Films

Specific works:

Films and creators in general:

  • Action Girls were not common in early movies, as the true form usually requires convincing hand-to-hand combat skills. However, a female character in a Western or Pirate movie could get away with the role. Maureen O'Hara is probably the most famous. She had a powerful screen personality, great acting skills, and an ungodly beauty that could carry any part. She also always looked to be having enormous fun whenever she got in a swordfight, most particularly in Against All Flags (as a Pirate Girl) and At Sword's Point (as the daughter of one of The Three Musketeers!).
  • Any movie directed by Andy Sidaris.
  • James Cameron likes is known for writing Action Girls into his films:
    • In Aliens, Ellen Ripley was slowly converted from a Final Girl into an early example of the Action Girl. Her performance earned her an oscar nomination and the number 8 spot on the AFI's Greatest Heroes list. She frequently appears on lists of the best female Heroes. We also see Vasquez, a butch action girl.
    • In the first two Terminator films, Sarah Connor grows from Distressed Damsel to one of the most badass heroines of all time, perhaps the only other that can truly stand beside Ellen Ripley.
    • Mace in Strange Days. It pretty much takes an entire police SWAT team to kick her ass. Justified in that she's a professional bodyguard, whom you'd reasonably expect to be able to kick someone's ass if necessary.
    • Most recently, in Avatar we have Trudy Chacón who goes out all guns blazing, the Na'vi princess Neytiri and — while not quite an Action Girl in this film — Sigourney Weaver's Dr. Grace Augustine, who's still no Distressed Damsel.
  • Many Kung Fu movies. In particular, characters played by Cheng Pei-Pei (60s and 70s), Brigitte Lin, Michelle Yeoh (both 80s and 90s; coincidentally, she played the aforementioned Wai Lin), and now Zhang Ziyi.
    • Yeoh, Zhang and Cheng came together as Shu-lien, Jen, and Jade Fox of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The sequence in the bar is FANTASTIC, as well as the fight between Shu and the rebel Jen.
    • In the 1980s, the so-called "girls with guns" subgenre took off in Hong Kong action cinema. Despite its name, the "guns" in question were usually quickly discarded in favor of bareknuckle brawling, thus making more straightforward Action Girl stars out of Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Khan, Yukari Oshima and Cynthia Rothrock. The latter two were actual martial artists (and Oshima was also a stuntwoman), making this borderline Truth in Television.
  • Ukrainian model/actress Milla Jovovich frequently plays Action Girls. She has the attractiveness to get by in Hollywood, and the lean, rangy body of a female athlete.
  • Mothra has been the Kaiju version of an action girl since her first appearance, and is arguably one of the most successful ones ever, starring in her own film series, and appearing frequently in the Godzilla franchise. In the case of the latter, she's one of the few monsters to ever defeat Godzilla (and did it with no fancy powers), is willing to stand up to King Ghidorah in her larva form, and usually takes on the role of The Smart Guy and Only Sane Man during team-ups.
    • Akane Yashiro from Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, the Ace Pilot of the Millenium Era Mechagodzilla, and one of the few humans with the guts to take on the King of the Monsters one-on-one.
  • Pam Grier's film career is made up of Sassy Action Girls.
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