Top 5 Bad-Ass Blockbuster Babes

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, USA (@peteramartin)
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Top 5 Bad-Ass Blockbuster Babes

This probably should be entitled: "Top 5 Bad-Ass Blockbuster Babes Who Created the Mold That All Others Should Follow," but that sounded a little wordy. And besides, best bad-ass blockbuster babes are rebellious: they don't follow the rules.

It helps when we're treated to unexpected touches, the hidden resources that an actress draws upon to makes her opponent blink in surprise as his head goes flying through the air.

For the purposes of this article, I've genuflected to the season and limited my selections to actresses who've appeared in modern summer blockbusters (July 1975 onward, movie released between May 1 and August 31). And then, because I'm a little bit of a rebel too, I've cheated on my own rules and included two women who would have been truly awesome, if only ...

5. Meiko Kaji (Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter, 1970; Lady Snowblood, 1973)

She stalked through Stray Cat Rock with such sass and vinegar that she cowed men twice her age, and she kept going until she slashed her enemies to bits in Lady Snowblood. Of course, she was born a little too early and far away from the heart of Hollywood, but for that we worship her, for she remains pure, unadulterated, and entirely a fearsome creature of both our dreams and nightmares.

4. Brigitte Lin (The Bride with White Hair, 1993)

Maybe Wong Kar-Wai's Ashes of Times Redux will remind people about Brigitte Lin when its gets released this fall. For me, it was the one-two punch of seeing a pale, diluted imitation of The Bride with White Hair in Forbidden Kingdom that prompted my pools of memory to seep open, re-igniting images of Brigitte as the Whirling Deadly Bride, and then I spun Chungking Express again, and then I thought that Brigitte would have been the greatest Hollywood blockbuster babe ever, not for her kicking or fighting abilities, but just because she exudes such an everlasting, bad-ass kool that she would blow everyone else off the screen.

And now, the top 3, Hollywood-style ...

3. Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991)

The innocent romantic from T1 has faded away entirely and by the time of T2 she is a feral animal, unblinking and never sleeping, aching for a fight and convinced that she must protect her child, yet still fully capable of freezing in unreasonable psychic fear at her first glimpse of Ah-nuld, her body betraying her. But she instantly adjusts and never blinks again, even when her son balks at his new-found role as savior of mankind. Oh, the troubles that Mary must have experienced protecting the baby Jesus ...

2. Sigourney Weaver as Ripley (Aliens, 1986)

Cameron's original incarnation of Fighting Woman takes off from Ripley's character in Alien (famously, allegedly originally written for a man). In a way, it's a cheat: by emphasizing her motherly instincts, Cameron made her emotionally vulnerable; still, she maintains her ferocity and barely hesitates to order men around, and the Great Leap (Motherly Ripley vs. Queen Mother Alien) is truly inspired, and allows Sigourney to rise to her full height. Plus, we still had that memory of her stripping to her underwear from the first film, so we know what she looked like under all that cumbersome space wear.

1. Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood (Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981)

I watched this again a few days ago and fell in love again with Karen Allen. But not just for her looks -- though I love the way her face crinkles up when she smiles and the confident way she carries herself. What other female character has been inroduced by drinking a giant Nepalese man under the tale, punching her ex-boyfriend in the face, taunting a Nazi, and killing his accomplice? Because of Karen Allen's performance (and Lawrence Kasdan's script), I will always love Marion Ravenwood, and am destined to walk the earth forever looking for a woman just like her, a true bad-ass blockbuster babe.

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WorthZeroMay 21, 2008 11:58 AM

I don't think she set any mold (maybe for mr. and mrs. smith) or if this was even a block buster but Gina Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight was pretty bad ass.

InCoNTRoLMay 21, 2008 1:16 PM

how about Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in Batman Returns?

Ard VijnMay 21, 2008 3:12 PM

Ooooohhh... catwoman!

Hard act to follow though (as has been proven...). She was not so much a 'mold' to be used, but rather an exception to the rule.

Sarah Connor and Ripley are totally awesome though, well deserved in this list.

J HurtadoMay 21, 2008 6:33 PM

I only know of a couple of films to her credit, but Reiko Ike did a fine job slicing and dicing her way through Sex & Fury.

sarkoffagusMay 21, 2008 7:08 PM

Good call on Brigitte Lin. She's a goddess. Look at something like SWORDSMAN II, in which she mostly sits there but still commands the screen.

Kurt HalfyardMay 21, 2008 7:30 PM

Cheng Pei Pei in COME DRINK WITH ME. The courtyard fight has here giving off some pretty intense vibes in a situation where she is waaaaay outnumbered.

Lin exudes super-cool in CHUNGKING EXPRESS indeed!

And Linda Fiorentino in THE LAST SEDUCTION is darn near an unstoppable force of nature.

kenshiro7May 21, 2008 7:46 PM

One name missing in this discussion is the protoge of Sonny Chiba...Etsuko
"Sue" Shihomi, in the Sister Street Fighter series, Dragon Princess and many others. While I have never read anything confirming my theory that Sue Shihomi was the inspiration for Street Fighter II's Chun Li, I think it is a likely homage to one of the best female leads in a Japanese martial arts film.

J HurtadoMay 21, 2008 10:32 PM

Totally with you on Pam Grier. I have a huge crush on 70's Pam Grier. Unfortunately 2000's Pam Grier has gained a lot of weight

steiner from marsMay 21, 2008 11:16 PM

hahaha I love them all, meiko kaji first^^

El DuderinoMay 22, 2008 12:12 AM

@ zombeaner: You're not the only one! Lol
She was beautiful in the 70ies, a goddess, but time passes for everyone, i guess.

MickeyRMay 22, 2008 5:25 AM

Mila Jovavich

Resident Evil, The Messenger, Ultraviolet, The Fifth Element


curious_gregMay 22, 2008 10:29 PM

Pam Grier, Yeong-ae Lee, Michelle Yeoh ('Wing Chun')

ChevalierAguilaMay 23, 2008 9:24 AM

This list lacks Michelle Yeoh and Pam Grier.