Top 30 Tough Chicks on Film: A Salute to the Female Action Hero

No.10 Keira Knightley

Domino Harvey, Domino (2005)

Keira Knightley in Domino

She is a bounty hunter who just doesn’t give a shit. She’ll even strip to capture her target. It didn’t matter she came from the elite of Hollywood society; she became a natural and reveled in the action. Taught by the best bounty hunter in California, Domino shows she compares equally with the guys in this male-dominated field.

No.9 Lucy Liu

O-Ren Ishii, Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004)

Lucy Liu in Kill Bill

We could have added Liu in a number of entries including the Charlie’s Angels movies where she kicked ass alongside Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore. But we thought a girl who had no qualms killing her parents’ murderer and decapitating a Yakuza boss for referring negatively to her mixed heritage would be a better choice.

No.8 Kate Beckinsale

Selene, Underworld (2003)

Kate Beckinsale in Underworld

What’s a girl to do when faced with enemies on every side? If you’re Selene, a death-dealing vampire, you kill every lycan and vampire that stands in your way. Whether with sword or gun, Selene doesn’t stop until she finds out the truth about her past and exact deadly punishment on all guilty parties.

No.7 Rose McGowan

Cherry, Grindhouse – Planet Terror (2007)

Rose McGowan as Cherry from Grindhouse

If tough chicks are your thing, then how can you not include a girl with a machine gun leg? Cherry adds new meaning to the word tough. By squatting down and spinning she turns her lower limb into a devastating weapon. No one has a chance when she gets the anger going!

No.6 – Milla Jovovich

Alice, Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil

Alice outdoes herself in this sequel as she takes on a hulking monster the size of a small tank. Running down the sides of buildings or jumping motorcycles through plate-glass windows are run-of-the-mill occurrences for our genetically enhanced heroine.

No.5 Carrie-Anne Moss

Trinity, The Matrix (1999)

Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix

Using her mind to take on a whole computer world filled with human-like programs that want to kill her and her friends, Trinity jumps off building, smashes through walls and doors, uses every form of martial arts, and shoots every kind of weapon, all in the name of freedom for her species and the love of a man.

No.4 Demi Moore

Lt. Jordan O’Neil, G.I. Jane (1997)

Demi Moore as Lt. Jordan O'Neil in G.I. Jane

Having to put up with male chauvinism as well as the toughest training program in the American armed forces didn’t stop O’Neil from passing through the Navy SEALS. She is the ultimate tough chick — bald head and all.

No.3 Uma Thurman

The Bride, Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003)

Uma Thurman as the Bride in Kill Bill

How could you not include a girl on a rampaging killing spree with a Hattori Hanzo samurai sword? That she dispatches more men in less time then all of our other selections on this list makes her a compulsory addition.

No.2 Linda Hamilton

Sarah Connor, Terminator II (1991)

Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2

What a difference a sequel makes! Sarah, through training, exercise and a focused hatred for a male dominated society, changes from a mild mannered waitress in The Terminator to a butt-kicking, face smashing, automatic rifle shooting, warrior for the world in Terminator II.

No.1 Sigourney Weaver

Ellen Ripley, Aliens (1986)

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Aliens

There was no way an alien queen was going to harm her or her surrogate child Newt, Ellen Ripley learned how to use a machine gun, a flame-thrower, and how to make a front loader into a weapon, all in the course of two hours of film. With Ripley and Pvt. Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), Aliens has two females that show off the new and improved version of the female sex. They started it all.

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  • Bicalho

    Tarna from Heavy Metal is missing from the list. Otherwise great list.

    • Bilbo10

      That wud be because heavy metal is a cartoon and only creepy Japanese ppl are attracted to cartoons. U like hentai don’t u

      • We’re not opposed to having cartoon characters on any of our lists at Yell! Magazine. And, if memory serves me correctly, Aeon Flux started out as an animation on MTV’s Liquid Television. Granted, we included Charlize Theron’s interpretation, but still… I’ll never forget how, in the opening credits of the animated series, Aeon caught a fly in her eyelashes… so cool.

  • Erudias

    I doubt Sarah Connor’s makeover comes from her “focused hatred for a male dominated society” – but you are free to talk nonsense all you want…

    • @Eruadias:disqus … Evil replying. You’re absolutely right, it is unlikely that was her driving motivation. Obviously, it was her focused hatred for an AI-dominated society. However, compared to her fun-loving “let’s go to the club tonight” with her Walkman-wearing friend, Sarah Connor did display a significant indifference toward her fellow humans, righteously focused on her goal, in T2. It just so happened that the majority of her “fellow humans” in T2 were men, so please excuse our stumble.
      Rock Hard!

  • What a great list. I’m a fan and student of the female
    action hero, and I was surprised to see I’ve missed a few – so you’ve given me
    a few movies to add to my “Must be watched” list. It’s going to be an expensive
    day for me on Amazon … I was especially pleased that you put Ripley and Sarah
    Connor at numbers 1 and 2, respectively. In my book, The New Female Action Hero
    (by Joe Goodwill, available on Amazon and Kindle), these two are a primary
    focus (along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the TV show). But I have to
    disagree with your point that Ripley only became an action in Aliens. I still
    remember vividly watching that movie 33 years ago, and the wonderful “WOW”
    moment when I realized that it was going to be the WOMAN who was the hero. In
    The New Female Action Hero I highlight the magical moment when Dallas, the male
    “leader”, melts into hysteria, while Weaver becomes the true leader, placing
    the needs of the many before the few as she calmly asserts that their infected comrade
    Kane cannot be allowed back into the spacecraft.

  • Troy

    Bridget Fonda gives me a boner.

  • Jack Loganbill

    Good list, but you missed one:Melissa George