Television and Movie Tough Gals…

Posted: November 8, 2010 in Movies, Rants, Television

So, Gin has a post up that, amid other things, touches on a subject near and dear to my heart…which is Television and Movie Tough Gals.  I mean it’s noooo secret I love strong women

Fiona, Current Queen of the Tough Gals!

characters, so yep, sure enough, when I watch TV or movies, I like to see them…however, I want them to be…believable, and all to often, they simply aren’t.  Yes, there are good ones, in TV and movies past and present, some that spring to mind right away are Fiona from Burn Notice, Ziva on NCIS, Sarah on Chuck, Annie on Chase (who is actually a bit over the top), Olivia on L&O SVU, Gina Torres as ANYONE she has ever played (Zoe on Firefly, Cleopatra, forget her name on Hercules) Ripley from The Alien Series (esp. the later movies), Vasquez from Aliens (the actress who played her also played other tough gals in Near Dark and Lethal Weapon 3), Lorna from the Lethal Weapon movies, and, of course, the often mentioned Linda Hamilton from T2 (I would also add Major Houlihan from MASH, a tough gal of a different sort)…and oh damn, the gal who did the guest spot on Leverage as the Other Team’s version of Elliot Spencer (hottest fight scene ever!)  And what is it that makes these tough gals awesome IMHO as compared to, oh, the gals in the current incarnation of Nikita, or either of the Catwomans, or Zoe Saldana in The Losers, or Angelina Jolie in Wanted (not so much in some of her other films), or Silk Spectre 2 in Watchmen, or tons and tons and tons of other movie and TV tough gals?

They are believable in the parts!  The way they look, the way their fight scenes are choreographed, the weapons and tactics they use…well, heck, they work as badasses!  It works, it flows, as a viewer, you think “hey, that could work!”  The actors playing the characters possess a physicality which makes their badassness believable.  The directors have them using moves and fighting styles that work for them.  Even Fiona of Burn Notice– who is a petite, slim (very buff) gal- well, the way they do her badassness- it works!  Which is awesome, because I can tell you, other times, it does not.  In the Losers, I was really sitting there going “There is no damn way, no matter how drunk he is, that Zoe Saldana’s character would be able to kick the crap out of Jeffery Dean Morgan’s character…no way”-let alone hold a rocket launcher steady to get off a shot like that.  In Wanted I was fairly certain that a very, very, very skinny Angelina Jolie would not actually be able to run a block, much less as much running she did in the film at such..velocity, let alone even pick up half the guns she was using.  And yes, sometimes, due to the nature of the character, you can have a hot, supermodel skinny actress play a bad ass (Meg and Ruby from Supernatural come to mind) because well, they aren’t…fully human.  Any actress can play a vampire or alien or whatever and be a badass, because, well, they are “special”, but even then..I really do like it when the gals playing tough gals are believable at it.

Angela Basset in Strange Days

I remember how just amazingly pleased I was with the two tough gals in the film Strange Days, played by Angela Basset and Louise LeCavalier…because you know, they both LOOKED the part.  These were two women characters you did not want angry or coming after you- both were professionals Basset’s

LeCavalier in Strange Days

 character a bodyguard and mother, LeCavalier’s character (a bit part, but there none the less) a hired thug and club crawler.  And sure enough, both of them kick some butt…and look like they could!

And you know what else I pay a lot of attention to when determining a tv or movie tough gal?  The ones who are good?  They will pull their hair (if it is long) up or back when they are knowingly about to get in a fight or go to work- where as the sexxxay ones won’t because hey, it’s not as hot, and more times than not?  Unbelievable tough gals…well, they run, shoot, fight, kill, kick ass, all that…in six inch heels.  I even have noticed in some movies the sexxxay female tough gal walks into the scene in crazy heels, but in the fight, when she is actually doing the movies, magically, they are flats!  (ahem, Watchmen, Batman Returns).  HAHAHAHAH.

(oh, and for anyone who has ever worn it, no way in hell someone can actually do cool ass karate and stuff in…full tight ass vinyl).

So yeah, let’s hear it for good, believable TV and Movie tough gals!

  1. rorshack says:

    Women who kick ass…Kick Ass!

  2. Roy Kay says:

    My favorite recent tough girl is Echo from Doll House. Seriously takes a lickin’ and keeps on kickin’. Willing to be incredibly nasty to those who more than deserve it – physically and psychologically.

  3. rootietoot says:

    I LOVE Olivia and Ziva!

  4. Lindsay says:

    I love tough action heroines, too — and share your pickiness about having actresses who look like they could actually do the stuff their characters are shown doing.

    (I might still like something with toothpick-thin actresses playing roles that call for a lot of intense hand-to-hand combat, stunts etc. — I enjoyed “Wanted”, for instance — but it makes it so much better if the actresses look strong enough to fight that way in real life).

    Besides Gina Torres, Linda Hamilton and both of the actresses you mentioned from “Strange Days”, I’d add Noomi Rapace from the movie adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium books. She’s kind of a small woman, but she added *a lot* of muscle to play that role, and her fight scenes revolve more around speed, agility and sheer uninhibited brutality than around strength. She’s strong enough to hit hard (unlike the same character in the books, I might add), but at enough of a disadvantage when it comes to size and strength that she’d rather not fight fair.

  5. Xena says:

    One badass who kicked ass and did a killer job of running in her high heels was Kristanna Loken the terminator. She’s allowed though, because she’s not supposed to be human. But the things the actor did for that part! All her own stunts, gruelling training schedule, gained 20 lbs of muscle mass. Awesome.

    Another kickass actor that did her own stunts was Renee O’Connor. That was one of my all time favourite shows, starring some of my favourite action heroes, in case my online name wasn’t obvious enough 🙂

  6. Hey Ren,

    stopped by here (it’s way too cold out for me today! crazy northern hemisphere weather) via Joan Kelly’s cos I haven’t had a peak for a while, and gotta say WORD to this entry.

    but you forgot to include jolie as dun dun dun LARA CROFT! She learned martial arts, street fighting, weapons training etc and she invented bungee ballet (when i grow up, i swear i’ll get that set up, some how)

    also, the movie bandidas – selma hayak and penelope cruz playing 19th century, robinete hood (stealing from the rich, giving to the poor) mexican bank robbers! that movie is pretty bad ass.

    ohand it’s a kids movie, and she might not be a “tough” girl, but, coraline! she’s tough as nails, sneaky as and smart. and and and…

    it’s a comic, but the walking dead, features a black womon named michonne who survives for an unknown period of time on her own in a zombpocalyptic world with nothing but her wits, a poncho and a samuri sword. recommend you read it! the t.v series is not that bad either – hell it’s a t.v show about zombies!

    or the resident evil movies. alice, claire and jill are bad-ass as fuck, know how to use their weapons, they all pass the bechedel test (even if they are racist as fuck) and seriously do yourself a favour and go so afterlife, the new one. seeing one womon take on a horde of undead flesh eating ghouls the way jovovich does just ooooh my. it really does it for me.

    haven’t seen strange days, but worth checking out i think.

    • Ren says:

      Heya!…When i siad some of her early roles, I was thinking of tomb raider! LOL…

      I have walking dead on my DVR, saving it for after my second neck surgery…zombies indeed.

      Warning on strange days…while those women kick ass, the big bad guy is a rapist/murderer, and it is…well, rough. that said, I think even that considered, you would LOVE Bassets character.

      • Ah excellent, am uber pissed cos I only have the first three episodes on my iPod to watch while travelling, I suppose at least when I get back I’ll have a new issue of the comic to read and be able to watch the whole first season 😉 the comics are infintely better i reckon, although apparently the t.v is supposed to be a stand-alone series/appropriation rather than an adaptation.

        Ah well, as long as the shit-head gets what’s coming to him (and I’m taking a guess he does?) those screen caps have more than raised my interest, especially the one of the blonde womon looking like Courtney Love.

        BTW, just remembered, have you seen a Japanese horror flick called X Cross? It features two womyn kicking arse and taking names (okay, well, it takes a while for them to, but it is worth it) in a village of all men that like to sacrafice womyn/girls to appease some ancient god. There’s a fight involving a giant pair of scissors and a chainsaw – that’s all that really needs to be said.

        Now I’ve just remembered the Descent part one (don’t even bother with part two, unless you want to feel like you’ve wasted yr bandwidth, er, I mean, money) is awesome as well. Tomb Raider-esque, creepy cave monsters and some seriously strong womyn to add to the list.

        Hope yr surgery goes well Ren and you have a swift recovery.

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