Anything boys can do girls can do better, right? Right. Well, mostly right.
Girls fighting in Hollywood tends to leave something to be desired. Of course, girl fights in the real world can leave something to be desired. Girls don’t generally start with fighting with their fists — they go for the emotions and the psyche, and while I’m not in any way saying that they don’t get physical (because good lord, they do), it’s still usually not good clean fighting — the kind that’s fun to watch in the movie theater. (Because yes, there is a difference.) And yes, insert your standard “violence against other human beings is a bad thing” rant here.
However, let’s face it- fights in movies are fun. Especially when they’re classier than hair-pulling slapfests of catfights. I like fancy moves and cool martial arts, and just women kicking butt in general. Why should guys get all the fun, right?
So. Ten great fights with at least one (if not two) women. This is by no means a definitive list — there are a lot of movies where women fight that I haven’t seen. But there are ten good ones.
1.) Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) vs. Jen Yu (Ziyi Zhang) in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? Amazing martial arts, more amazing martial arts, and did I mention the flexibility and the amazing martial arts? Add in the more fantastic elements (like jumping two stories up and stuff like that), and come on. What two guys have had fights this amazing?
2.) Mulan vs. Shan-Yu in Mulan
In some ways, animated fights aren’t as impressive because you can make an animated character do anything. But at the same time, Mulan fights with her head as much as she fights with her limbs, and that’s what I really like about this. Plus, she uses a fan as a weapon. It’s a real style, and it’s awesome to see her do it.
3.) The Bride (Uma Thurmon) vs. Whoever in Kill Bill
I’ll be honest. I’ve never watched Kill Bill, or Kill Bill II. But I don’t need to in order to know that Uma Thurmon did some major ass-kicking in this movie. It’s a Tarantino flick, after all.
4.) Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) vs. various police officers and Agents in The Matrix
A computer programmer and hacker in the “real” world, Trinity in the Matrix is sleek, cool, and an amazing fighter. Sure, she’s aided by some of the coolest cinematography ever, but really. I’d love for my life to have a scene that looked like that.
5.) Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) vs. John Smith (Brad Pitt) in Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Say what you will about Angelina, but I give her a lot of credit for bringing the ladies to action, and kicking butt in a very non-stereotypical feminine way. Jane’s tricked-out hide out is awesome, too, as is her staff of deadly women. Who cares if she can’t cook?
6.) Jordan O’Neill (Demi Moore) vs. Master Chief John James Urgayle (Viggo Mortensen) in G.I. Jane
This one, which takes place during a training exercise, is ugly (which is why I used a different picture), and yet, the violence serves a point. And Jordan makes her point, that yes, while being a Marine is dangerous, she can hack it.
7.) Buffy (Sarah Michelle Geller) vs. Faith (Eliza Dushku) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I’m cheating here and using a TV show, but a girl named Buffy taking on the big bads armed only with a pointy stick? How can that NOT be great? But two awesome, powerful girls fighting in awesome, powerful ways… no wonder Joss has fanboys and fangirls.
8.) Ripley (Signourney Weaver) vs. the Queen in Aliens
One of my pet peeves is that Hollywood always goes for pretty girls fighting. Okay, they always go for pretty girls, period. You can make the case for Ripley’s attractiveness, but if you find the Alien Queen hot, I really, really don’t want to hear about it.
9.) Miss Piggy vs. the former Nazis in The Muppet Movie
When her one true love Kermit the Frog is threatened by the world’s leading expert in frog mind control, Miss Piggy puts aside the demure front and brings out the karate chop, complete with swinging from chandeliers. Miss Piggy was saving her man while the rest of these women were young kids watching her do it.
10.) River Tam (Summer Glau) vs. the bar in Serenity
“And start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a ninety pound girl, because that’s never getting old.” Seriously, Wash just summed that up perfectly. River’s unexpected martial arts prowess is just the definition of butt-kicking.
Have I missed a bunch? You bet! And just to give you an idea, here’s a few more screencaps, either from movies I didn’t see yet or fights where the choreography wasn’t all that impressive. Got more? There’s the comment button!