My Favourite Female Badasses

A personal salute to Girl-Power in the movies
January 21, 2009
OK, I'm probably treading on thin ice here but in the words of a stereotypical high school cheer-leader "WHATEVERRR!". Initially this was going to be a follow up to my Action Heroes article but I thought a spin-off would be more fun.

So without further ado I give you My Favourite Female Badassess starting with....

Karla Fry from Beverly Hills Cop 2

One of the earliest villains or is it villainesses I first knew of who could carry out the dirty work and still look elegant at the end of the day. She never had a lot of kick-ass dialogue but I guess that's what made her character kinda hardcore because of the simple formula; the less a badass talks, the more menacing the character.

But I loved the way says "Goodbye Mr. Foley."

In case some of you haven't seen this one its about a series of mostly high end store robberies distinguished by their monogrammed envelopes with an alphabetical sequence the assailants leave behind. The mastermind behind this is Maxwell Dent who actually OWNS those businesses.

The idea is to get the insurance money as a result of the loss and use it to finance some illegal-weapon deal or something like that.

That's where Karla comes in. When she's first introduced she looks like some rizty/high profile woman stepping out of a limo about to do some jewellery shopping. But moments later it turns into a robbery! The next thing we see, she's checking her clock yells how much time her gang has and waving her gun at frightened customers and telling them to "EAT THE FLOOR!".

When the heist is done she shoots the chandelier which comes crashing down, cementing her character as a badass.

Later in the movie she plays 'damsel in distress' in order to lure Capt. Bogomil, who's investigation is getting too close and at this point doesn't know she's behind it all, and has him fatally wounded. At that point I was like "Wow, she's really evil!"

Then she goes on to rob some more while trying to stay one step ahead of Axel Foley and his team of Taggart & Rosewood.

who would suspect her of such nasty crimes?

Karla Fry was one of a kind and in my opinion set the bar for non-campy femme-fatales with style & elegance. She definitely needs a mention....I wonder what Brigitte Nielsen is up to nowadays?

Cleo Sims from Set It Off

There some chicks you'd be afraid to approach because some of them are extremely beautiful that trying to make conversation would make her think you have a speech impediment problem.

While others like Cleo Simms are just simply intimidating, kinda like asking the school bully to stop picking on you because your parents say so (yeah right like he's gonna listen).

Set It Off is a movie about 4 women who've known each other since childhood who start robbing banks. How does this happen? Francesca/frankie (Vivica A. Fox) is fired from the her bank when a robbery takes place because it turns out she didn't react accordingly and partly because she knew the robber and his gang. Think of it as your next door neighbour who you usually greet everyday or visit occasionally suddenly goes berserk/postal, wouldn't that be shocking? Same here.

So anyway the robbers are killed and Frankie and her friends, Stony (Jada Pinkett-Smith), 'T.T' (Kimberly Elise) and Cleo (Queen Latifah), toy with the idea of robbing banks.

Each lady has their own reason for doing this. Stony; because her kid-brother was killed after being mistaken for one the robbers, T.T; who's a struggling single parent and whom social welfare is threatening to take her kid because she doesn't earn enough, Frankie; who trying to get back at "The Man" and also knows all about bank operations & security and finally Cleo; Who just wants the money, Period.

Cleo Sims was toughest among the group, outrageously outspoken but had deep respect for her girl-friends especially Stony. Cleo Sims was like the tomboy you do not want mess with unless if you know what you're doing. In one scene a guy (F. Gary Gray making a cameo appearance) teases her, when she's going to fix up her car to which Cleo sharply replies "Never mind my shit fool!" (then gives him the finger). In another scene a few days after their first robbery,

Frankie: I know you out of money by now, Cleo. Now what you going to do?

Cleo: Rob another goddamn bank! What the f*ck is ya'll thinkin?

When her boss confronts her when she appears for work after a long absence;

Luther: What the hell? Cleo, I know you ain't come to work. Ain't been to work and don't call nobody!
Cleo (casually): I'm broke, Luther! Now I know you gonna give me my old job back coz nobody can take shit the way I take shit. Now shut up before I stick that mop up your ass!

And in another scene she displays some affectionate authority,

"Ursula!..(kisses her)..... Girl, when I page you gotta call me back!"

OH, Sorry! Did I forget to mention she was a LESBO!? Come to think of it, I don't know what kind of guy would handle a chick like this one because she's fiercely independent and she'd probably have the bigger balls at the end of the day!

Cleo Sims was definitely a badass til the end, and [Spoiler Alert] when she sacrificed herself to help her friends buy more time (no pun intended), I cried... seriously! That scene had me saying "f*ck the PO-lice!" (OOPs! Now I owe NWA ten bucks for that.)

Xenia Onatopp from GoldenEye

One of my favorite badass bond girls and there's never been another like her. Sure, Pussy Galore (man, don't you just cringe when you hear that name?) probably did set the bar for bond female assassins but Xenia Onatopp (*wink*, *wink*) kicked it to a whole new level

I'm sure you ALL know what made her unique; that's right the first ever bond girl to ORGASM! After killing you, that is. Xenia Onatopp was a psycho turned on by danger whether speeding at dangerously high speeds, shooting down people or crushing men to death, she loved to orgasm. If haven't seen GoldenEye by crushed I don't mean sexed to death, rather 'fore-played' to death.

We see this happen when some military guy in-charge of a high-tech helicopter which Xenia is about steal, makes out with her.

During this time, Xenia is kissing him savagely all over and then comes the climax (literary). When she's got him position, she crushes him to death with her thighs! That's right with her THIGHs while she orgasms away! First time I saw this I was like "Is that possible?" because it looked stupid at first.

I wont lie to you this was once a fantasy of mine..... until it happened, and trust me guys its unpleasant! Unless if you're into that kinky stuff, I wouldn't recommend it.

It turns out this manuever is actually a wrestling move used in combat to asphyxiate your opponent because the lungs can't fully expand. James Bond had to deal with this twice. The first time was in a sauna where Bond desperately tries to free himself while Xenia is busy uttering smart-ass remarks such as "You think you can break me?" while Bond slaps her powerful thighs and slamming her against a wall which only turns her on ever more! The second, was in the Cuban jungle after crash-landing making him an easy target and while still recovering from the accident, she revengefully tells him "This time the pleasure with be mine!" and squeezes him again.

This girl totally stands out among those who came before her and its not that easy to compare with anyone from the series unlike the way it is with the main villains.

Check this out, Pussy Galore (hee!hee!hee!hee! I'm having fun with this name!) was tough, BUT was won over by James Bond's charm, meaning that she was a 'big-softy' therefore she loses out on badassness. Next, the chick in the helicopter from 'The Spy Who Loved Me'; take away the chopper and she aint so tough. Mayday from 'A View To Kill' knew some martial-arts and was ABNORMALLY strong because she used steroids heavily plus she was genetically engineered. Take away the steroids and what do you have? (I think Marion Jones or Barry Bonds can answer that.... ahem).

What about the other good bond girls who could have matched up? Hmmm... Maybe Pam Bouiver from 'Licence to Kill' but take away her guns and all you have is tough talk. I think the only one is Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) from 'Tomorrow Never Dies'. MAN, was she good but I guess that's the problem right there. She was way too tough be bond-girl because she was all action and didn't have much of a personality. They should have made her a hench-woman.

Like I said Xenia Onatopp is hard to compare and was truly one of a kind who made bond girls around her appear generic.

Seriously which other assassin(s) can you think of who can kill by squeezing the victim between their legs and enjoy it?

Catherine Tramell from Basic Instinct

First time I saw this movie it sent my nearly none existent testosterone levels through the roof and beyond. Enter Catherine Tramell who if she was your girlfriend and dumped you, you'd kill yourself or end up in a coma, diagnosis: Depression. But that's the lighter side assuming IF it were to happen.

This chick was manipulative and knew how to toy with peoples emotions especially men. Why is she a badass? Well, psychological damage is more painful than physical damage so the saying goes but she was both i.e. seductive and murderouse. Though it was difficult to prove this but we knew she did it,... right?.

The movie Basic Instinct is about a former rock star and San Francisco nightclub owner Johnny Boz who is found murdered in his bed. Detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) is assigned to the case. The prime suspect is Catherine Tramell, an attractive and manipulative novelist who had been seeing Boz for a while.

It is discovered that Boz's murder was copied directly from one of Catherine's novels. Nick starts to get too involved and everyone seems to be a suspect.

Catherine Tramell was very intelligent always managed to keep herself in the clear especially when Nick starts getting attracted to her. As a very over-confident killer she had a few smart-ass answers in this movie like

Nick: You like playing games don't you?

Catherine: I have a degree in psychology, it goes with the turf... Games are fun.

When asked whether she felt bad that the guy was murdered

Catherine: I'll miss f*cking him.

She had a totally free-spirited nature. Oh, by the way who could forget the famous uncrossed legs scene? If you have then you sir/madam, are a liar!

First time I saw that I immediately ejected the tape from the VCR. That's right, I chickened out and "man-ed" up a few months later to finish the movie. The opening scene was way too graphic for me because the nearest I got to porn, were love scenes in soap-operas and James Bond flicks. But to see (what I thought was) a vagina on screen was shocking.

A very daring performance from Sharon Stone I must say because she really embodied the character and made her seem "real" in a strange way (kind of like Christian Bale's Batman).

I'm sure because of that Catherine Tramell returned once again for Basic Instinct 2 which to this day I've yet to check out. Hope its as good as the first one.

And it seemed from that time every director who had nude scene, or simply an excuse to see Sharon Stone naked, would hire her making her an instant A-lister. But no matter what nude-seductress Sharon Stone played nothing compares to the Catherine Trammel character... But then again there was Adrian Hastings from The Specialist but that's another story.

Sarah Connor from T2: Judgment Day

I'm sure most of you saw this one coming. As in, the one played by Linda Hamilton.

This is the only character I can think of who under went an extreme personality makeover. What's there to say about her that hasn't already been said? So therefore, I wont bore you with the plot details.

She transformed from humble girl-next-door to a foul mouthed, no-nonsense military-minded badass! She fought terminators y'know!...... TWO of them! From what we know already she hung out with tough guys especially the kind with a military background who helped her become the badass she was. But most importantly to teach these skills to her then-bratty son John Connor who technically is the real victim.

Her badassery or badassness (Damn! I can't even find a proper term to descibe her!) was shown throughout the whole movie, like so.

When we first see her she's doing chin-ups and we see she's all sweaty, well-toned and chiseled with her hair looking like she's back from having sex or something. She picks a lock with nothing but a paper-clip!

Beats up a guard with a broken end of a mop stick and takes his night-stick and uses it beat up another guard, NEXT_LEVEL; She then gets a hold of a Colt/Detonics Series 70 pistol from the terminator when they first battle the T-1000, GAME_SAVED, LOAD; Gets hold of a Silenced Colt Commando with ACOG scope and laser pointer in her attempt to terminate Miles Dyson, when that runs of ammo; PRESS F2_FOR SECONDARY WEAPON OR MOVE MOUSE_WHEEL; uses a custom Detonics 1911 pistol and wounds him; GAME_SAVED, LOAD; Gets a hold of a Colt Cammando Carbine AGAIN but this time without the laser pointer and scope when shooting at the T-1000 who's now chasing them with a helicopter (gets wounded HEALTH_75%); STAGE_COMPLETE, LOADING NEXT LEVEL (....Please wait); Gets a hold of a Remington 870 Folding Stock Shotgun as the T-1000 approaches, gets stabbed by T-1000 (HEALTH_65%); Manages to escape somehow and gets hold of the Remington 870 Folding Stock Shotgun AGAIN for one of the most iconic scenes in the movie as she shoots the T-1000 until AMMO=0 ROUNDS LEFT, SECONDARY WEAPON UNAVAILABLE; GAME_OVER.

wtf? I was just getting started!

And I think that about sums it up and one her quotes from the movie when they escape the mental hospital says it better:

Sarah Connor (to John): "I didn't need your help I can take of myself!"

Need I say more? Just like Catherine Tramell, Sarah Connor would return once more in her own terminator spin-off, The Sarah Connor Chronicles but this time with Lena Headey as the titular character.

Sarah Connor: The Legend of a Badass Continues

Ellen Ripley from the Alien movies

If all the female badassess were in a school, Ellen Ripley would be the Principle/Dean. And just like Sarah Connor she first started out humble and became a badass in the sequel Aliens and an even badder one in Alien: Resurrection when she became a hybrid.

And also like Sarah Connor there's nothing much to be said about her that hasn't already been said. Throughout the series she's battled the aliens and is usually the sole survivour (talk about the last man standing, or woman in this case). What made her special was her abiltiy to be innovative when weapons weren't available during her battles with the aliens (remember the fork-lift suit?).

However Alien and Aliens will always be my favourite of the series and there's only quote which is my favourite and its obviously somewhere among the top 20/50/100/200 etc, movie quotes of all time. I'm sure you know this one so lets ALL say it together now, ready?

Ellen Ripley: "Get away from her you bitch!"

And that my friend is the reason why Ellen Ripley always kept coming back and why she qualifies to be a badass.

Last but not least I'd like to conclude this list by ending with the woman who practically introduced the concept of a female badass. Not many of you will know her coz she's from way, WAY back in the days before most of us were even born. I give you THE one, the ONLY.................

Foxy Brown

That's right kids before Pam Grier was on The L Word, she played a badass named Foxy Brown.

For those who don't know (and I don't blame you)Foxy Brown is a woman, seeking revenge when her government-agent boyfriend is shot down by The Man. She links her boyfriend's murderers to a "modelling agency" run by Steve Elias (Peter Brown) and Miss Katherine (Kathryn Loder).

Foxy decides to pose as a prostitute to infiltrate the company. This leads Foxy to a variety of revenge-themed set pieces -often violent and sexual- that range from the cremation of sexual-slavemasters to the castration and presentation of a foe's genitals.

Now how badass is that? I remember watching this flick on VHS long time ago and I was "in love". Pam Grier as Foxy Brown was amazing and I couldn't get enough of her!

I'll let this trailer give you an idea of why I think Foxy Brown is one of the true pioneers (if not, THE pioneer) of the Female Badass!

So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed this and looking forward to your feedback. Later.......
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