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Where have all the cowgirls gone?

By greydmiyu in Media
Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 04:32:45 PM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)

We have plenty of cowboys around. The strong male leads in action movies. The question is, where are the strong female leads in action movies? Certainly not something you'd expect to spawn from a conversation over the upcoming "Charlie's Angels" movie, but it did...

Recently in one of the newsgroups that I participate regularly in the topic of movies and martial arts came up. Completely off topic, but then what in newsgroups is ever really 100% on topic? That discussion led through several different topics before settlings solidly on the upcoming "Charlie's Angels" movie. Well, not so much the movie but this simple question. What is Drew Barrymore doing in that movie?

Of course that isn't the complete question. If we take the three principle actors of the movie one can apply the question to all of them. Drew Barrymore has some action experience from "Bad Girls". Lucy Liu got some kicks off in "Payback" and at least was in a movie with Jackie Chan, "Shanghai Noon". Cameron Diaz, a strong screen presence in "On Any Given Sunday" hasn't had any serious action experience in a lead role that I am aware of. So clearly the question can be applied to all three of the principle actors.

I then decided to see if I could populate the movie with three female actors who have had a lead role in a decent action movie and that is when I hit upon the question, "Where have all the cowgirls gone?" I'm sure most people reading this can rattle off three male actors that could fill out an action movie with reasonable credibility. Let's go for the holy trinity. Stalone, Schwarzenegger, and Snipes. Of course getting them in a movie together would leave no budget for the actual production but this is all hypothetical.

Over the past weekend I've been wracking my brain to find actresses with lead experience in an action movie and have come up with a total of five.

Linda Hamilton - Terminator, Terminator 2.
Sigourney Weaver - Aliens trilogy
Carrie-Anne Moss - The Matrix.
Gina Davis - Long Kiss Goodnight.
Bridget Fonda - Point of No Return

I'm sure I am missing more but the point is the names just aren't coming to mind as easily as the males are. So where are the female leads for these movies? Is Hollywood not producing the roles or finding credible actresses to fill them? Are the audiences looking for these roles and willing to give the women a chance to prove the can keep pace with their male counterparts?


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Where have all the cowgirls gone? | 52 comments (46 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Snipes?? (1.66 / 3) (#1)
by mattx on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 12:43:04 PM EST

I can think of a lot of people that come before snipes... Jet Li Jackie Chan Any James Bond Actor Bruce Willis Van Damme ...

-- i fear that i am ordinary, just like everyone

alliteration baby (none / 0) (#12)
by ZanThrax on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 01:37:01 PM EST

None of the more obvious stars keep the alliteration going. And while I'd agree with all of those (except Li, even though he's way cooler), I have to beg to be allowed to never, ever see VanDamme in a movie again.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

Knock Off (none / 0) (#24)
by titus-g on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 04:21:47 PM EST

was v good IMHO, then again, judging from the imdb comments I do seem to be pretty much the only person in the world who thinks so....

Then I liked Hudson Hawk as well.

Hmm and Steven Chow movies, can't get enough of them :)

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

day of the dead (2.25 / 4) (#2)
by fantastic-cat on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 12:46:42 PM EST

the lead character in george romero's day of the few genuinely strong and 'together' female characters in any horror film.

Night of the Living Dead, too. (4.00 / 1) (#5)
by mcwee on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 01:00:22 PM EST

The 1990 remake of "Night of the Living Dead" also features a very strong femal lead, as does "Deep Rising." In fact, it's propably in horror that we'd most fruitfully search for these ladies-- Incoherent Horror (the category that most contemporary horror films fit into) classically has a strong femal protagonist (please see "Hellraiser," "Nightmare on Elm Street", The Halloween series-- which reminds me, Jamie Lee Curtis deseres some action props, too. Remmeber "True Lies"? (either fondly or with regret))

Also, the gal from "Pitch Black" was an interestingly strong, yet conflicted, lady. Don't recall either the actress's or character's names. Sorry.

Apologize for the scatter-shot rambling-- am at work. will be fired if caught lollygagging.

The PMjA; it's a whole new kind of Truth.
[ Parent ]

missed one (2.00 / 1) (#14)
by h2odragon on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 01:50:14 PM EST

The chick from "I Spit on Your Grave" certainly qualifies as a strong female lead...

[ Parent ]
One more femme to add to the list... (3.20 / 5) (#3)
by teeheehee on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 12:55:56 PM EST

But I haven't seen much from Cynthia Rothrock in the last decade or so...

I tend to find, in general, that actors make more well-known and box office-topping movies than actresses do. It's almost like it's harder to find actresses who make a big name for themselves and keep it than it is to find actors who manage to do so. Especially in the Action-intense movies.

Does it come down to the very simple split between the common man's mind and what we see as a good movie and what the common woman's mind says is good? You know, that whole 'Mars' and 'Venus' thing that gets rapped so much about?

Oh, and I think I'd choose Jackie Chan or Jet Li WELL before I'd go for Snipes, but then that might be just me.

(Discordia) :: Hail Eris!
Everything you've just read was poetry and art - no infringement!

Chinese? (2.00 / 1) (#25)
by titus-g on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 04:39:07 PM EST

There must be plenty in the US now after 97, and as for US talent what about Kelly Hu?

Michelle Yeoh has got to be mentioned, the only woman that Jackie Chan lets do her own stunts...

Admittedly quite a lot of the movies that get imported to our barbaric western shores tend to combine the action & sex 50/50, but there are a lot of great women action actors out there, _with_ the character to pull of lead roles.

Similar to this I was talking with my brother a month or so back, and what good new male action stars are there?

David Boreanz (sic?) has got to be one, but skinny, pensive, and good looking seems to be more in vogue.

Maybe Action Movies are a dying art...

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

Kathy Long ? (none / 0) (#51)
by GreenEagle on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 08:27:19 AM EST

Similar to Rothrock in the sense that she is a real fighter (kick box).
Unfortunately did only a few forgettable films (see imdb).
Probably not the greatest actress but I enjoyed watching her :)

[ Parent ]
So what's wrong with more? (3.16 / 6) (#4)
by eann on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 12:59:56 PM EST

Okay, I'll take your premise that there aren't many female leads in action movies. And I won't argue that's the case because those films are targeted towards men who like to see other essentially normal guys doing heroic things and don't really want to think very hard about complex philosophical and emotional issues. I'll mention it, but I won't argue for or against its veracity. :)

There are other females, of course. Catherine Zeta-Jones. Famke Janssen (and most of the other women in X-Men). Even Lucy Lawless and Reneé O'Connor, if you'll allow for some small-screen action.

Anyway, with all of that, what's wrong with giving three more talented actresses action parts? If the goal really is to have more "cowgirl" parts, having more actresses who have proved they can handle it doesn't seem like a Bad Thing [tm].

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.

Nothing at all wrong with more. (1.00 / 1) (#8)
by greydmiyu on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 01:05:35 PM EST

Nothing at all wrong with more, nothing at all. I'd prefer to see more, personally.
-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
Why Snipes. (2.00 / 2) (#6)
by greydmiyu on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 01:03:37 PM EST

Hey, I do prefer some other male actors for action over Snipes but none of the ones that came to mind had a last name that started with an S. I think the lists posted so far goes to prove my point that it is far easier to call to mind male action actors than female.

-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
more HK (none / 0) (#31)
by titus-g on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 05:19:42 PM EST

There was once a rumour about a movie with quite a few of the big HK stars getting together, including JC CYF & JL

Then again there was another one about Jackie Chan & Wesley Snipes getting together (WS is a very big fan of Jackie's)

Wish even half these vapour movies got made, preferably not by hollywood though....

And hey Snipes isn't bad, IIRC he first came into movies through (or at least helped by) his martial arts skills, maybe he just hasn't been given a good role yet...

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

The Quick and the Dead (3.00 / 5) (#7)
by Precious Roy on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 01:04:41 PM EST

For the guys... what about Harrison Ford? Granted, his movies aren't the traditional kind of shoot-everything-that-isn't-you action, but we're talking about Star Wars AND the Indiana Jones films, who have hands-down some of the most famous (and most mocked) action sequences ever.

But you're right, as far as action movies go (in the U.S. at least) there are few strong women. Michelle Yeoh comes to mind for her role in Tomorrow Never Dies... and I'm hearing rumors she'll play the same character in the next one.

And don't forget about Sharon Stone, who did some fairly decent gunslinging in another Western, the modern version of The Quick and the Dead, as well as a smaller ass-kicking part in Total Recall. (Any female who can rough up Arnold that well deserves a thumbs-up.)

Carrie-Ann Moss could have easily fit in Charlies' Angels, especially in Lucy Liu's role. (Remember how the character was supposed to be an astronaut? And what's Carrie-Ann playing in her next film? Not a coincidence.) :-P

Sharon Stone's western... (1.00 / 2) (#10)
by greydmiyu on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 01:07:01 PM EST

Bad Girls, also starred Drew Barrymore, FYI.
-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
So? (3.14 / 7) (#11)
by acestus on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 01:26:42 PM EST

Where have all the cowgirls gone? I'm not sure there ever were so many to begin with. There aren't many action actresses because there isn't much call for them. While this seems to be slowly changing, I don't think it's Hollywood's fault, I think it's just dictated by audience. (I'd wager, really, that men generally do not like to watch women kick ass as much as they like to watch men kick ass. Women action heros are somewhat threatening. Even Trinity, at some point in the Matrix, seems to forget that she's a bad ass and become more love-interest than failed messiah.

However, since it seems like everyone's naming their favourites, I'd say that Angela Bassett was pretty raw in Strange Days.

This is not an exit.
Angela Bassett (none / 0) (#26)
by titus-g on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 04:45:11 PM EST

No doubt about it, if ever anyone makes a decent movie from Gibsons books she should definitaly feature largely. But then she is just a great actor all round.

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

BUFFY !! (2.85 / 7) (#13)
by hariya on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 01:48:59 PM EST

Nuff said!

And... (none / 0) (#46)
by wiredog on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 11:05:23 AM EST


The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
[ Parent ]

one to add to the list (3.55 / 9) (#15)
by madams on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 01:51:10 PM EST

Milla Jovovich from "The Fifth Element".

Mark Adams
"But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.

Two words: Michelle Yeoh (3.00 / 6) (#16)
by Skippy on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 02:07:23 PM EST

(drool) She kicks more ass than anyone. Frequent female lead in Jackie Chan movies and played in, IIRC, Tomorrow Never Dies with Pierce Brosnan. She was the woman he escaped with while handcuffed to. Francios (sp?) Yip is also pretty badass. She was in Rumble in the Bronx with Jackie Chan and played a female gang member/assassin in the pretty bad Romeo Must Die

If you notice a trend, there seem to be several ass-kicking females in the movie industry, just not in Hollywood. The Hong Kong action industry has several regular female leads. Just to reiterate, Michelle Yeoh kicks ass. (drool)
# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #

Bah, forgot the linkage (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by Skippy on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 02:11:33 PM EST

Michelle Yeoh
Francoise Yip

# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
[ Parent ]
You stole my subject! (; (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by jethro on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 05:07:48 PM EST

Yup, I'm going to AOL a "Me Too" on this one. Michelle Yeoh rules. She wasn't the 'Bond Girl' in TND, she pretty much made that movie. I do think it'd have been cool if she was the first bond girl to slap the dork instead of kissing him. I wish SOMEone would do that already.

Anyway, yeah, Asian action movies seem to have a lot more 'strong' female lead roles who actually look good in action, as opposed to Drew Barrymore who really, really doesn't.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.
[ Parent ]
Yeoh. (2.00 / 2) (#20)
by dead_radish on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 03:14:32 PM EST

Let me agree.

Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh. Yep.

And Michelle Pfeiffer was an excellent cat woman. Meow.

Mira Sorvino did a fair job in Replacement Killers.

Pretty much anyone who has been in a Jackie Chan/Chow Yun Fat flick would do. But it doubly reinforces the point - they are JC/CYF flicks, not Michelle Yeoh flicks. And they aren't Hollywood. But I find that my tastes often run to Hong Kong over Hollywood....

Lucy Lui was pretty good in her few fight scenes in Shanghai Noon

And Geena (not Gina) Davis was also in a god-awful, but very amusing pirate movie (I forget the name - but imdb reminds me it's Cuthroat Island) and Milla Jovovich was also in The Messenger, where she was a serious ass-kicker.

I'd say Sigourney Weaver is the only real Hollywood actress that has a serious ass-kicker reputation on par with Arnie et al - Linda Hamilton is up there, though.

However (the more I type, the more I have to type), if you go to TV, you've got Lucy Lawless (Xena), and a number of actress I can't remember (B'lanna Torres from Voyager, the girl from Dark Angel, et al).

But you do have to work at it. Personally, I love ass-kicking females. I say the more the merrier.

And now I stop.

I knew I shoulda brought a crossbow. -- Largo. www.megatokyo.com

More on Michelle Yeoh (none / 0) (#48)
by autarch on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 05:51:34 PM EST

There are indeed Michelle Yeoh films though. I highly recommend checking Wing Chun, probably her best film ever.

[ Parent ]
Hollywood and Women. (3.75 / 4) (#21)
by clarioke on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 03:47:07 PM EST

When was the last time we truly saw women take the lead in an action movie? I mean this, honestly. Women in action flicks are excuses for black catsuits, in the case of The Matrix. If someone can name ONE action flick in which a woman is the lead role and not just either a damsel in distress or a sidekick, token woman, I will be impressed.

Women in film, in general, in Hollywood, is not equal. We know this. Women are naked far more than men. Women's bodies are exploited far more readily than men's are, not to mention more frequently.

There have been some sad attempts to get out of this rut. In the general film world, we had Erin Brockovich (sorry spelling), which tried to sell itself as a woman kicking some law ass. Funny it was also Julia Roberts throwing her chest around. No, she didn't always throw her chest around, and her character was intelligent. But could it have been made without her chest being thrown around? Yes.

It just wouldn't get the same response.


okay. So this response was more about the topic addressed than the actual article. I say, go with the article, under the media heading. This society is *not* gender-equal. We know this. It is interesting to see what this community has to say about it.

Well... (none / 0) (#28)
by greydmiyu on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 04:54:45 PM EST

There was at least one woman in the article that meets your criteria, Sigourney Weaver.

As for "Erin Brockovich" have you seen the real person the movie was based on? I have. Sure, they could have made the movie without the character tossing her chest around but then it wouldn't have been true to the real person the character was modeled on.

-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
Erin Brockovich (3.50 / 2) (#39)
by shirobara on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 10:16:41 PM EST

On the other hand - would this woman's story, no matter how compelling, have been made into a movie had she not dressed like she did, or would it only have been destined to be a Lifetime made-for-tv movie? Would the movie (in some alternate universe) have been as sucessful as it was had it featured an unknown, 40 year old actress wearing Chanel suits?

Just asking out of curiousity - I've never seen the movie (though I've read a few reviews from reviewers I trust, that doesn't REALLY count), so of course I will keep an open mind about it until I've seen it. But then I am also pretty cynical about that kind of thing.

[ Parent ]
darn! :) (1.66 / 3) (#29)
by titus-g on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 05:10:30 PM EST

posted an editorial comment and it went through before I submitted.

Anyway the non ed. bit was:

Judging from the number of Michelle Yeoh fans here, what are the chances that she could be persuaded to play rusty when K5 The Movie is finally produced.

I mean to produce a site like this he must have had to engage in any number of pitched battles with drug barons, street gangs, dark side KF master VCs.

And another one for the list Yukari ‘shima if I had 1/1000th of her skills I'd be a happy camper...

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --

And then I went and replied to the ed. (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by rusty on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 06:03:25 PM EST

To expand and clarify my reply to the editorial version of this comment...

We've already solidly committed to Keanu playing me in the movie. He's a little old, but we'll dress him up like a hacker and give him a dorky haircut, and he'll pull it off.

[INT dark room, thudding techno bassline, DOLLEY counterclockwise around Keanu's head, eyes closed]

[INT same, K's eyes pop open]

Keanu: "I know perl."


Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

cowgirls? what cowgirls? (3.80 / 5) (#30)
by mirimoo on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 05:10:33 PM EST

Well I thought of one more person, Lori Petty in Tank Girl, but how many female-ass kicking stars we can think of is utterly beside the point. In the end there are probably a bunch of them but the real point is that there are SO many more men than women (probably at least twioce as man men, if not, more) How many of women heros are well etched in our memories? Maybe Ripley and the women from T2 but are they even a handfull of names we can put here? Schwartnegger, Stalone, Snipes are all classic men. Male Hero's are definately NOT something we lack. But where are the roel models for girls? The women that show girls that we dont always need to be rescued and that we can do the rescuing? Where are all the strong female characters that are not helpless or second string? We could even broden this question to Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels. My favorate genres, but pathetically deviod of ass kicking women. Is this lack in our culture do to a belief that women actually CANT kick ass? I know lots of ppl think that, but they are sorely mistaken. And why is it that any woman who can kickass is deemed to be "masculine"? I'm a tiny little epitomy of femininity but I'll be damned if I cant take care of myelf not to mention rescue some floundering guys along the way. Most of my favorate movies have strong female leads b/c i identify with them. Alien(s)+, Tank Girl, Long Kiss Goodnight and Le Femme Nikkita to name a few... but thats geting mildly off-topic There are pathetically few movies where even the strong female character (if there is one) does not have to rescued at some point by a "stronger" man. THere are less female heros in media b/c we dont look for or expect them. Many ppl even think it is unrealistic for a women to be in such a strong role. Our society assumes that women are meek and mothering and men are strong and curagious. And we look for these things and we say to ourselves "oh but it's true, most women are meek and most men are stronger" (meaning strong of character as well) However, these veiws are more culturally determined that genetically. We are more culturally brainwashed then gentically programmed. If we look at societies out side of our own, as Mead did in her book SEx and Temperment, we will come across the undeniable conclusion that our roles of dominance and submission, as assigned to men and women respectively, are utterly cultural. In cultures where women are considered dominent we see common display of those characteristics and visa versa. However, there are always outcasts in any society and that is why none of the gender assigned societal assumptions are really accurate. If i say everyone with blue eyes is good at sports then we will look for those cahracteristics in them. We will probabyl even justify it, b/c there are SOME ppl with blue eyes who are good at sports. But as we all know just b/c some ppl with blue eyes are good at sports we all know that doesnt prove my statement. The answer to the question "Where have all the cowgirls gone?" is that they never really existed. We, b/c of our culture, do not look for strong female leads, but instead we look for our male heros. Hollywood, or the entertianment industry is merely delivering what they know sells best to the public. Ps. please excuse my absolutely horrific spelling.
No two snowflakes are exactly alike,
but every fucking snowflake is pretty much the same
-- McGrath
Strong women in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels (3.50 / 2) (#32)
by greydmiyu on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 05:31:24 PM EST

We could even broden this question to Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels. My favorate genres, but pathetically deviod of ass kicking women.

I find that quite the opposite, maybe I'm just lucky in the novels that I've picked up. If you're looking for good female leads in sci-fi/fantasy novels here are some suggestions.

The Anita Blake series - Laurell K. Hamilton
Of all the words that could describe Anita Blake I think weak is the last one anyone would ever pick. She's a vampire hunter with an attitude. So far there are nine books in the series with a tenth on the way.

The Honor Harrington series - David Weber
Actually, I think any book by David Weber has strong female leads in it. _Apocolypse Troll_ did even though it was an independant story. Honor, like Anita, is a tough as nails character. No doubting she is female but certainly not a Damsil in Distress, either.

In fact, the David Weber series is part of a larger genre called Space Opera. Space Opera generally has strong female leads. The publisher Baen appears to push a lot of SO out so maybe more of their novels would have strong female leads.

-- Grey d'Miyu, not just another pretty color.
[ Parent ]
by Ticker on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 11:37:04 PM EST

Ouchie ouchie. My eyes!

It is painfully difficult to read posts without paragraphs. Please use them in the future. Thank you.

[ Parent ]
Villains Make Action Movies... (4.50 / 2) (#35)
by eskimo on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 06:26:35 PM EST

Somebody already mentioned The Quick and the Dead, which I rate highly. But it would have been a marginal movie, saved only by its Raime quirkiness were it not for Gene Hackman. Same goes for Weaver in Aliens. Scott and then Cameron basically developed the most hideous of all possible enemies (sidenote: why not just make bullets out of baking soda...).

Linda Hamilton, on the other hand, had to be saved almost constantly in the first movie, and really only became a strong action lead after she basically went insane. Yes, she was telling the truth, but let's face it, She was hardly rational in the toothless Terminator 2. But she was inspired to her strength and her psychosis by a strong villain.

But for my money, the strongest female lead in a non-traditional role would have to be Jodi Foster in Silence of the Lambs. It is hardly a shoot-em-up, but this was seriously virgin territory for a female actor. And again, her status was elevated by her co-star, Sir Anthony Hopkins. Pursuit of sexual predators by a female character was rare enough. To combine that with such a vivid portrayal of one is what made this movie so good.

To me, the real question, is why aren't there more female bad guys. Other than Natasha Henstridge in Species, and Sophie Marceau and a few other Bond bad girls, they are much harder to find, and these are all lightweights compared to somebody like Hans Gruber in Diehard, or Jack Nicholson in Batman. Once people accept that women can induldge in evil, perhaps they will be more accepted as people able to counter it.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto

Lena Olin (none / 0) (#38)
by driph on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 09:44:04 PM EST

Have you seen Romeo Is Bleeding?

It would be difficult to come up with a more sinister and intense villian than Mona Demarkov, as played by Lena Olin. She is absolutely amazing in that film.

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
Re:Lena Olin (none / 0) (#45)
by blackfoliage on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:56:57 AM EST

Lena Olin also makes a wonderful (although sometimes bumbling) villian in the underrated Polanski film "The Ninth Gate". She brings a intelligence and sensuality to both those roles that make for strong and interesting characters. No fair maidens here (and good ridance).

[ Parent ]
Luc Besson (2.33 / 3) (#36)
by plastik55 on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 08:34:01 PM EST

People have alredy mentioned Milla Jovovich from The Messenger and The Fifth Element. Luc Besson tends to put very strong female characters in his movies --- also see Anne Parillaud from La Femme Nikita, and Natalie Portman in Leon (aka The Professional)

By the way, if you have not seen the recently released (in the US) director's cut of Leon, go see it now. The original U.S. release of the film had 20 very important minutes cut out. The movie is so much improved in the rerelease that it's ridiculous.

Is this a problem? (2.66 / 3) (#37)
by Luke Scharf on Mon Nov 06, 2000 at 09:22:04 PM EST

At the risk of being lynched by hordes of politically correct people -- why is this a problem?

hells yah. (1.50 / 2) (#43)
by plastik55 on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 02:33:27 AM EST

At the risk of being lynched by yet more hordes of politically correct people---because female action stars rock ;)
[ Parent ]
Meg Ryan in Courage Under Fire (2.00 / 2) (#41)
by dbt on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 12:21:46 AM EST

though her character took second place to the storyline, unfortunately.

Weren't they killed? (1.00 / 2) (#42)
by Wah on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 01:58:19 AM EST

while dressing up like cowboys?
Fail to Obey?
Cow-girls? (none / 0) (#44)
by joto on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 06:48:36 AM EST

I thought the typical gallery of persons in a western movie was bad guys (cowboys), good-guys (cowboys), the sheriff and his deputies (cowboys), townspeople (scenery), indians (nature), women (whores), and that's it. Where do these cowgirls come in?

I know who you're looking for. (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by static on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 06:38:59 PM EST

Motoko Kusunagi (from Ghost In The Shell) is unfortunately, animated, but she is beyond the shadow of a doubt the lead character. And she really kicks-ass :)


If we're going to get into anime... (1.00 / 1) (#50)
by shirobara on Tue Nov 07, 2000 at 09:12:00 PM EST

In terms of strong action characters (as opposed to mentally strong characters or strong willed characters) San from Princess Mononoke is about as cool a character as I've ever seen - Lady Eboshi gets in some fighting time, so she counts too. Then...who else? Utena from Revolutionary Girl Utena, definitely...Rei and Asuka from Evangelion... There are a lot of cool, strong female characters in many anime series and movies I've seen, though they do tend to spend a lot of time being cool and strong in sailor skirts and whatnot. ^_^

[ Parent ]
Because it's hard. (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by logistix on Wed Nov 08, 2000 at 09:05:47 PM EST

It's hard to write action with a strong female lead. Not because they're 'weak' or 'inferior'. They're just different than men.

The most glaring example on your list is Gina Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight. Although I enjoyed the movie, when she transformed into the top-secret superspy my first impression was that she just started acting like a man. All the words out of her mouth from that point sounded like they just started writing for a man.

You can put all the women you want in PVC bodysuits and have them do kung-fu (and believe me, I'll be the last to complain) but that isn't necessarily a character that's a role model for women. But when Alien came out, alot of women saw it and (to paraphrase Black Rob) it was like whoa. Because this was a real woman. The same with La Femme Nikita.

That's also the beauty of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The creator just had the idea: What if some normal cheerleader-type girl who could have been someone on 90210 was the predestined guardian of earth? Sure, anyone could have had that idea, but very few people could have carried it off so well. Rent the movie if you don't believe me. It managed to blend real (and sometimes allegorical) problems of a real teen-ager with an action show.

It's hard, BUT... (3.75 / 4) (#53)
by iGrrrl on Thu Nov 09, 2000 at 08:51:59 AM EST

logistix complained (or at least noted) that the Geena Davis character in The Long Kiss Goodnight "just started acting like a man" when she transformed into superspy. Here's my female and non PC take on it. Traditional expectations of women as consensus builders and reactors rather than initiators tends to make one veiw a woman as "man-like" if she behaves differently. Meaning if she kicks ass and takes names, the culture no longer sees her as a woman.

I used to be a roadie (or stage and lighting technician, or whatever you want to call it). It gave me great experience in practical physics (lifting heavy objects and solving wiring problems), but was a job that would not generally get done without sweat, effort, and initiative -- typical guy trappings. It wouldn't have helped me to be feminine in any way.

I can't tell you how many times either I've almost gotten hurt or some guy almost got hurt because he tried to help me with something heavy when (before his interference) I was perfectly in control. Acting femine at all just made that problem worse. Plus, it really wouldn't have helped the guy on the other side of the amp rack we were loading into the truck if he was looking at my tits.

logistix is dead right about Buffy, imo, where they've managed to have a very feminine character who can more than hold her own. I'd add Aeryn Sun from Farscape into the list of females who can kick butt. It might be argued that she acts more like a man, but from my experience it doesn't make a female any less a woman when she decides not to be passive.

From my roadie days (stolen from the movie Carwash): More man than you'll ever be, and more woman than you'll ever get. <g>

You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
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Where have all the cowgirls gone? | 52 comments (46 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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