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

No.20 Kathleen Turner

Victoria ‘V.I.’ Warshawski, V.I. Warshawski (1991)

Kathleen Turner in V.I. Warshawski

V.I. investigates a murder that keeps getting her in the way of fists and bullets. Whether she gets punched in the face or shot at doesn’t deter this tough chick private-eye from getting to the truth.

No.19 Jamie Lee Curtis

Megan Turner, Blue Steel (1990)

Jamie Lee Curtis in Blue Steel

Megan, a rookie cop, takes on a psycho Wall Street broker obsessed with her and a 44 magnum he stole off a dead perp. She faces him and his gun down in a climactic shootout and dispatches him without remorse. There is nothing tougher than that.

No.18 Anne Parillaud

Nikita, La Femme Nikita (1990)

Anne Parillaud in Nikita

Becoming an assassin for the French government seems to be second nature for Nikita (after getting over the initial shock and drug recovery). The character was so compelling that Hollywood reshaped it into Maggie Hayward for Bridget Fonda in Point of No Return.

No.17 Natasha Henstridge

Lt. Melanie Ballard, Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Natasha Henstridge in Ghost of Mars

Taking on a planet full of colonists possessed by Martian ghosts didn’t faze Lt. Ballard (who received help from two other kick-ass females in Bashira Kincaid (Clea Duvall) and Commander Helena Braddock (Pam Grier)). Using a combination of martial arts and tactical weapons training, Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) survives long enough to make it back to base in order to take on the martians a second time.

No.16 Hilary Swank

Maggie Fitzgerald, Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby

Being white trash and an age over 30 doesn’t stop Maggie from beating the hell out of anyone who stepped in the ring with her. It took a cheap shot from a dirty boxer to end her career while she was on the road to becoming the champion of her sport.

No.15 Zoë Saldana

Neytiri, Avatar (2009)

Zoe Saldana in Avatar

Neytiri teaches Jake what it’s like to be a Na’vi warrior and then joins him in the fight to take back Pandora from the humans. When a woman takes on tanks and aircraft with a bow and arrow, you know she’s got the stuff to make this list.

No.14 Jaime Pressly

Tina Armstrong, DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)

Jaime Pressly in DOA: Dead-or-Alive

Taking on both her dad (a pro wrestler twice her size) and a green-haired African American martial arts tough guy in a fight tournament showed Tina’s mettle and deserving addition to this list.

No.13 Devon Aoki

Miho, Sin City (2005)

Devon Aoki in Sin City

Is there anything more impressive than a double-sworded teenage hooker who takes no guff from men, and if you cross her or her coworkers, you’re shish kebab. The whole group of prostitutes in Sin City are tough, creating a protectorate in their area of town, but Miho is the standout of the bunch.

No.12 Zhang Ziyi

Jen, Yu, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

She flies through the air, runs up the sides of walls, balances on tree tops, and expertly uses a sword, all as a teenager. When she takes on a whole gang of bar patrons single-handedly, she becomes one of the toughest chicks ever to be on the big screen.

No.11 Geena Davis

Charley Baltimore, The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Geena Davis

Being half drowned, shot and blown up doesn’t stop Charlie Baltimore from defeating the rogue CIA agents in this movie. She swings on wires like an urban Tarzan shooting her machine gun with deadly accuracy and she uses a knife like a master chef. As the bad guys found out too late, if you get between her and her daughter, you’re as good as toast.

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