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Action Girl / Live-Action Films

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  • Ahn Ok Yun (Jun Ji-Hyeon), the sole female assassin in the 2015 South Korean film Assassination.
  • Leigh (Laurie Zimmer) in John Carpenter's original Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). She starts out as just a secretary in a police station but becomes an action girl when the nearly-abandoned station is under siege by a street gang during the night and fights them off along with the lone policeman and two convicts. She keeps her cool especially in comparison to the other secretary who panics.
  • MI-6 agent Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde, who stands out as a very physical and realistic example more similar to Jason Bourne or John Wick than some of the more She-Fu-y examples out there. She fights well with fists, guns, and really anything that's not nailed down.
  • Barely Lethal revolves around Megan, a teenage girl assassin who fakes her own death so she can go to high school.
  • Kate Beckinsale
    • Selene in Underworld. However, it is debatable on whether she's an Action Girl or a Dark Action Girl.
    • Anna Valerious in Van Helsing. She is eager and ready to get into a fight. However, she is a Faux Action Girl via The Worf Effect throughout the film, though the finale acts as a redeemer. She successfully vanquishes her nemesis Aleera, and she doesn't hesitate to throw herself at Van Helsing's werewolf form to cure him. She succeeds at the expense of her life. Were it not for the fact that Anna was fighting supernatural monsters, she'd be a carbon copy of Selene.
  • The Car: Road to Revenge: Daria grew up in the worst neighbourhood in the city and, although more refined now, has lost none of the skills she learnt there. She is an expert shot and can hold her own in a hand-to-hand fight against the worst street scum the city has to offer, even if they are cybernetically enhanced.
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  • Francesca Bruni in 2005's Casanova. Your brother is a poor swordsman who's got himself into a duel? No problem, just take his place and kick ass!
  • Zen, autistic teenage martial arts savant of the Thai film Chocolate.
  • Kyra has developed into one by The Chronicles of Riddick, beating up various men larger than she is, evading an alien helldog, and even holding out against the Necromongers for a while.
  • Pam Grier made a career out of playing this kind of character in a number of Blaxploitiation movies in the 1970s, at a time when female action characters were unusual, and black ones even more unusual. Her characters are not only proficient fighters, but are usually the ones to initiate the action and take the fight to her enemies.
    • In Black Mama, White Mama her character, Lee Daniels, is an escaped convict who has to fight for her survival against both gangsters and law enforcement.
    • The title character in Coffy from 1973 was one of the first full-fledged examples of a female Blaxploitation hero. She is nurse who turns vigilante when her sister falls victim to the drug trade, using both her sex appeal to infiltrate the drug gangs and then her fighting skills to extract a bloody revenge.
    • In Foxy Brown, which is a Spiritual Successor to Coffy, she plays a very similar role: an ordinary citizen turned vigilante and using sex and violence to take revenge on the bad guys.
    • Her character in Sheba, Baby is a Private Investigator who takes law into her own hands. Here, the sex is very downplayed, but she is an accomplished fighter, both hand-to-hand and with guns.
  • Valeria (Sandahl Bergman) from Conan the Barbarian (1982). Took lessons from master Kiyoshi Yamazaki who worked with Schwarzenegger and Lopez. Swung a sword, looked good doing it.
  • Lynn Redgrave's character Mary O'Donnell in Don't Turn the Other Cheek! single-handedly comes to Russian conman Dmitri and Mexican bandido Max's rescue by beating down about ten or twenty of Huerta's soldiers with her bare hands.
  • Rookie Judge Cassandra Anderson in Dredd proves herself to be highly capable over the course of the movie. Not only does she mentally kick Kay's butt multiple times, but she rescues herself when she gets captured, saves Dredd from the corrupt Judge and even stands up to Dredd with regards to the fate of the Clan Techie. It's no wonder that Dredd gives her a pass at the end of the film.
  • The tragic Su Lin, sister of Lee in Enter the Dragon. It was the star-making role of Angela Mao Ying, who would go on to star in many other Hong Kong martial arts films and received the nickname "Lady Whirlwind".
  • Maya from Eight Below. Only female dog and the leader of the pack.
  • The Expendables:
  • Fair Game: Conservationist Jessica starts out as the victim, but after she is raped she takes bloody revenge on the three poachers.
  • Veronica from Final Girl has trained most of her life in armed and unarmed combat. She is extremely good in either case.
  • In Firestorm (1998), ornithologist Jennifer manages to hold her own for most of the movie, and proves to have a host of skills that are useful when fleeing from a gang of killers in the midst of a forest fire.
  • Scarlet from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is on of the Joes' best and brightest, who wields a high tech crossbow that allows her to easily take out Neo-Vipers. She also held her own in a one on one fight with The Baroness and participated in the Paris chase on the back of a motorcycle.
  • Mallory Kane in Haywire, played by Gina Carano no less. Notably, due to Carano's extensive background in mixed-martial arts this makes Mallory a much more physical Action Girl than most examples, with her fight scenes being comparable to something you'd see in a Bourne film.
  • Park Nam-joo in The Host is an Olympic bronze medal archer. At one point she goes to look for her niece on her own. She survives being hurled into a wall by the creature and sets it on fire by successfully shooting an arrow into its eye
  • The French assassin Nice, played by Sofia Boutella in the dystopian thriller Hotel Artemis, is a proficient killer and has one of the highest body counts in the film, all while wearing an elegant red dress.
  • Marion Ravenwood gradually Took a Level in Badass in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and helps out in Indy's battles whenever she get a chance. She goes from screaming and panicking at the snakes and the skeletons in the tomb to gunning down Nazis in an airplane cockpit. She's definitely one in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • "The Mountain Girl" from D.W. Griffith's Intolerance is one of the earliest, if not the first, film example. She is a Babylonian who isn't particularly interested in romance but likes eating onions and killing Persians. When the Persians attack and she takes to the walls with the rest of the army to fire arrows, she enjoys herself.
  • Only comes up rarely in the franchise, but not all Bond girls just sit around waiting to be rescued:
  • Johnny Mnemonic has Jane, a female cyborg bodyguard. She's not as badass as Molly Millions in the original story, but this was probably due to the limits of cinema at the time.
  • Judge Hershey in Judge Dredd. She gets into a Cat Fight with Dr. Ilsa Hayden.
  • Claire from Jurassic World is this trope played in a rather interesting way. As she's the park operations manager, she's hardly an athlete or a trained fighter, but she is a very intelligent and determined survivor, so when she gets a Moment of Awesome, it comes from her wits rather than any physical prowess or training. Despite this, she still saves Owen's life from a Dimorphodon which was attacking him by clubbing it with Owen's tranquilizer rifle and then shooting the pterosaur with it, and she manages to outrun a Tyrannosaurus Rex while in high heels. On top of her, of those sent to try recapture the Indominus Rex, one of the very few survivors of that resulting massacre was also a woman.
  • Hit-Girl in the 2010 movie Kick-Ass, is probably one of the best examples of the Little Miss Badass trope. Despite being only eleven years old and her small stature putting her at a physical disadvantage, she proves to be one of the most deadly characters in the movie, thanks to spending pretty much her whole life training to be a killer.
  • Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill. Trained by one of the greatest warriors to ever live, she was a professional assassin and is considered the deadliest woman in the world. She single-handedly cuts her way through almost 88 sword-wielding bodyguards before going on to dispatch an entire team of highly-trained assassins in her Roaring Rampage of Revenge. The other major females fall into Dark Action Girl territory.
  • In Last Action Hero, Slater's daughter is one of these, and at first it's played for laughs by subverting the Distressed Damsel — she's screaming mock-hysterically as she kills the mook sent to take care of her. But it's also deconstructed a bit when Slater mentions that she spent her prom night alone in her room, field-stripping an AK-47.
  • Éowyn from The Lord of the Rings. "I AM NO MAN!"
    • In the first film, Arwen Evenstar carries a wounded Frodo from Weathertop to Rivendell, outrunning the Black Riders.
  • Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road. Even in a series where being an Action Girl is practically a survival requirement, she's still at the top of the pile. She's a Badass Driver who leads several of Immortan Joe's Wives to keep them out of a constant life of sex slavery. She's also an incredibly good shot and physical fighter, even handing Max his ass several times. A number of critics and fans have begun to call her this generation's Ellen Ripley.
  • Trinity from The Matrix is probably one of the most iconic examples of this. An unflinching badass takes out dozens of mooks with both kung fu and automatic weapons, and at one point, even manages to get the drop on one of the seemingly invincible "agents".
  • Alex from Momentum, a hi-tech thief with espionage training. In addition to being an expert combatant, she's also skilled in deception and spycraft. Essentially the female version of Bryan Mills.
  • Anna Fang from Mortal Engines, really shines in this regard, slaughtering the slaver guards of Rustwater with ease, going toe-to-toe with Shrike (albeit unsuccessfully) and engaging in an epic duel with Valentine near the film's end, to distract him while Hester shuts down MEDUSA. She's also an Ace Pilot, flying the Jenny Haniver in the final battle against London's defences.
  • Miss Piggy turns into an Action Pig in numerous Muppet movies. You mess with the frog, you will get hurt.
  • Saga in Mitt liv som hund (My Life as a Dog). She beats all the boys at boxing and is the best on her all-boys' football (soccer) team.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Elizabeth Swann starts off in the first film as a brave and resourceful, but in-experienced and somewhat naive girl, who winds up serving as Distressed Damsel for much of the first movie. But after being rescued, she still proves at least willing help out in battle as much as she can. By the sequel, she's [[taken enough of a level in badass thanks to her fiance, Will giving her some lessons on sword-play, that she's now more than capable of holding her own in fight, and by the third film, she's gone full on Pirate Girl and ends up leading a fleet a pirates into the Final Battle.
    • The first film also had Anamaria, the token Pirate Girl in the otherwise all male ragtag crew put together to go after Barbossa.
    • Angelica from the fourth film can also be considered an Action Girl as she's a swords-woman on par with Jack Sparrow himself, though she's closer to a Dark Action Girl.
  • Robin Hood's daughter Gwyn in Princess of Thieves, played by Keira Knightley. This was the role where she learned the archery skills that she later used in King Arthur.
  • The Quick and the Dead (1995) with the unnamed "The Lady", a female Gun Slinger, played by Sharon Stone, who enters a life-or-death Quick Draw contest to get close to and take her revenge on the man running said contest.
  • Helen Mirren's character in RED is Action Girl [[at retirement age, who specializes in More Dakka, most notably when she holds off Secret Service Agents by using a heavy machine gun to keep them pinned.
  • Red Dawn (1984). Teenaged girls Toni and Erica, who subvert the usual trope by being too rugged up in the Colorado winter to be much fanservice. After the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits kill their first Dirty Communists, they state flat out that the guys can do their own washing up. We later see them blasting away in ambushes and using their feminine wiles to get bombs into places where the Russians really don't want them going off.
  • Interesting little semi-subversion in Red Eye. Rachel McAdams' character is manipulated, abused, and (metaphorically) raped by Cillian Murphy's Magnificent Bastard, and eventually she decides to man up (for want of a better term) and brutalize him with a pen, a shoe, and a field hockey stick. She does pretty well (or at least, well enough not to be a Faux Action Girl), but she still needs the help of Daddy Brian Cox, who also mans up just in time.
  • In the third Riddick movie, Dahl (Katee Sackhoff) is a seasoned mercenary and sniper, and beats up an attempted rapist.
  • The women of Old Town in Sin City, as they have to rely on each other for protection from rowdy customers.
  • Star Wars:
    • Princess Leia Organa from Star Wars often switches in and out of the Action Girl role. She must have got it from her mother, Padme Amidala, who is, incidentally, the best shot with a blaster in the entire series.
    • Rey, first introduced in The Force Awakens, and The Hero of the Sequel Trilogy is a self-sufficient scavenger-turned-Jedi who is extremely strong in the Force and pretty much the galaxy's last hope against the First Order and Kylo Ren. Notably, she seems to have learned all of her skill in combat by herself, receiving no formal training other than a brief visit to Master Luke on Ahch-To. Growing up on Jakku means one needs to learn to take care of themselves after all.
    • Jyn Erso, The Hero of Rogue One, is a Rebel soldier trained from childhood by a particularly violent sect of anti-Imperial militants called the Partisans, and is also the person responsible for securing the Death Star plans that allowed the Rebellion to claim victory in A New Hope.
  • Emma in Steps Trodden Black carries around a switchblade and benches more than her male friends. Her first reaction upon seeing the films monstrous antagonist is to attack it with a hatchet.
  • Babydoll, Sweet Pea, Rocket, Blondie, and Amber from Sucker Punch. They go up against robot zombies, medieval knights, a furious dragon mother and army of robots with barely any protection, and leave scores of bodies behind every single time.
  • Williams from Terminator Salvation is a clear example of this trope.
  • They Look Like People: Mara playfully demonstrates judo throws and submissions during a date with Christian. Later, when she's Alone with the Psycho, she confidently threatens to knock Wyatt on his ass unless he gets out of her way. Still later, when he's following her to apologize, she pops him in the nose.
  • Quorra of TRON: Legacy can do just about anything, from showing kickboxing skills and driving Light Runners to piloting Light Jets and being able to give one of Clu's minions a headshot.
  • Selena in 28 Days Later has this kind of scheme going on. Since 28 Days Later is on the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, she may be badass and violent, but she's still just a rather athletic chemist (pharmacist) with a machete. It's therefore understandable when she gets a bit Chickified toward the end when surrounded by a bunch of soldiers.
  • Undercover Brother. Both Sistah Girl and White She Devil (after she reveals herself as The Mole) demonstrate exceptional martial arts combat skills, including beating up several trained male combatants.
  • Voyage of the Unicorn: Miranda turns into one near the end, taking down multiple trolls with only a staff despite her lack of any fighting skills or training shown before.
  • Fox in Wanted. So much that some people on this wiki have gone as far to say that every scene she was in was a Moment of Awesome.
  • All orc women in WarCraft, as they go to battle alongside their male counterparts. The two named she-orcs stand out especially - Garona's kill count rivals that of Lothar, while Draka at one point murders another orc with her teeth.
  • Gwen Conliffe from The Wolfman (2010) eventually becomes the Victorian equivalent of this when she becomes so motivated by trying to save Lawrence that she totes a gun around while running around in a dark forest in the middle of the night — certainly breaking the Damsel in Distress version of her character from 1941.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • The Wolverine:
      • Yukio introduces herself in a bar brawl and proves competent enough to protect Logan. She later helps him fight Viper.
      • Mariko is proficient in softhanded martial arts and an excellent knife-thrower, helping to kill Silver Samurai.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • Blink's powers make her extremely effective in fighting the Sentinels, both in taking them out herself and assisting the others in fighting them.
      • Mystique is the only mutant back in the past who's been doing anything for the last few years (Magneto has been incarcerated inside the Pentagon for a decade, and Xavier's been moping around the house since the start of The Vietnam War.) Even when the plot takes off, she's still the most active character.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse:
      • Mystique knocks out a few guys who are bigger than her in East Berlin. She later becomes the battle commander of the X-Men.
      • Jean Grey unleashes the full power of the Phoenix and obliterates Apocalypse, who can only marvel at her power.
      • An unarmed Agent Moira MacTaggert, who is covered in a niqab that hinders her movements somewhat, is able to disarm a man larger than she is and render him unconscious.
  • Oto Tachibana from Yamato Takeru is a fireball-slinging Kung-Fu Wizard priestess (and Knife Nut) who doesn't hesitate to face down a Physical God.

Franchises and creators with large bodies of Action Girl work:

  • 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.
  • In Slasher Movies, the Final Girl ends up being this half the time, the other half they become a Distressed Damsel instead. It depends on the movie, but many final girls who become Action Girls include:
  • James Cameron likes 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.
    • Thai actress Jeeja Yanin has also made a name for herself in martial arts movies in recent years, starring in films such as Chocolate Raging Phoenix, and Jukkalan (a.k.a. This Girl is Badass)
    • 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.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff. She may not have any powers, but she's one of the biggest badasses in the entire franchise.
    • Sif of Thor is a notable example, as she became a skilled, prominent female warrior in a patriarchal society.
    Thor: And who proved wrong all who scoffed at the idea that a young maiden could be one of the fiercest warriors this realm has ever known?
    Sif: I did.
    Thor: (Embarrassed) True, but I supported you, Sif.
    • Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, who gets to do quite a bit of ass-kicking, like shooting down a Nazi agent from a block away, and even rescuing Cap from a flamethrower-wielding HYDRA mook in the film's climax.
    • Iron Man 3:
      • Tony assembles the Mark 42 around Pepper in one scene, which she then uses to save Tony. Pepper also gets injected with Extremis later, allowing her to save Tony from the similarly super-powered Killian.
      • The female Extremis soldiers are Dark Action Girls.
    • From the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Gamora and Nebula, adopted daughters of Thanos who were raised and trained as assassins.
    • From Doctor Strange (2016): The Ancient One, as well as Tina Minoru and the female Zealots.
    • Black Panther gives us Okoye, the commander of the Dora Milaje, and Nakia, an exceptional Wakandan spy. Even T'Challa's little sister Shuri, whose primary aptitude is in designing Wakanda's incredible technology, proves herself capable of combat in the film's climactic battle.
    • None of the aforementioned women can hold a candle to Carol Danvers, the eponymous Captain Marvel. She is touted as the most powerful character in the entire MCU, even more powerful than Thanos.
  • 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.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen has been the breadwinner in her family since her father died, and was a talented hunter even before that. She's lethal with a bow and when she enters the Hunger Games, she puts those skills to use. She quickly proves herself to be formidable, intelligent and determined. She manages to beat out other competitors that are not only physically stronger and working together, but whom have been training their entire lives to kill.
  • DC Extended Universe:

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