Women are dominating the action world more than ever, carrying films with their physical skill and mental strength. To celebrate the UK cinema and digital release of Byung-gil Jung’s The Villainess on the 15th of September, here is a rundown of the top kick-ass female iconic leads, and that we want to see more of!

Kim Ok-bin: Sook-hee, The Villainess (2017)

There is no question that Sook-hee is kick-ass – and the film’s opening sequence demonstrates this incredibly as innovative first-person POV filming shows her defeat an entire army of men. Played by Kim Ok-Bin, her performance exudes determination and the narrative which shows her taking her life into her own hands further strengthens this character as being a future icon for female protagonists.

Uma Thurman: The Bride, Kill Bill (2003)

Seeking revenge, The Bride is focused and ferocious on her journey to seek personal justice for what was done to her. Her incredible strength, endurance and cut throat attitude is why she has made it to our top list of tenacious women in film. Not the only iconic female character in this film, O-Ren, Elle, Vernita, Gogo, Sofie all deserve honorable mentions on the list for being kick-ass, even though they may be antagonists in the story. Tarantino created a world controlled by women and it definitely provided an action-packed and thrilling narrative.

Sigourney Weaver: Ripley, Aliens (1986)

Widely known as one of the most iconic female action characters, how could we leave Ripley off our list? Not just an example of female physical strength, she introduces humanity to a species showing she is a force to be reckoned with in terms of mental strength and leadership. She radiates confidence and despite some aspects of the 1986 film appearing dated now, we still think she is iconic.

Pam Grier: Coffy, Coffy (1973)

Trying to find justice, nurse Coffy seeks the drug dealer responsible for influencing her sister. An enormously entertaining action film classic, Pam Grier packs a lethal punch in the role as Coffy controlling her own destiny, redeeming all the qualities a kick-ass female protagonist needs to be included in this rundown!

Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Despite being depicted as a sociopath, Lisbeth displays not only strength but vulnerability. This strong female role was recreated again successfully 2 years later, showing that this character’s attitude and confidence is consistently acknowledged as powerful and appreciated by audiences.

Milla Jovovich: Alice, Resident Evil (2002)

Saving humanity from a horde of invading zombies, Alice is well loved female protagonist starring in all 5 of the film franchise. A popular video game, adapted for the big screen, Alice is unique to the films, but makes a significant impact leading the films through its dramatic violence and carrying the narrative.

Gal Gadot: Diana Prince, Wonder Woman (2017)

An Amazonian warrior in training, she uses her powers to try and restore peace in a time of war. Not only does this film have a strong female lead, but it also has a female director helping project this strength to the big screen. Some have noted this is the best DC superhero film so far, again highlighting that compassion and physical skill create the most empowering protagonist heroes.

Michelle Yeoh: Yu Shu Lien, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)

A professional bodyguard, Yu Shu Lien is there to protect, a role not commonly taken by female characters. Her tough exterior does crack as a love narrative is revealed allowing the audience to relate to her human nature, but her physicality excels as she traps her opponent from escaping with only her foot, a skill I am sure people will have tried and failed since watching the epic fighting scenes this film has to offer.

Meiko Kaji: Yuki Kashima (Shurayuki-hime), Lady Snowblood (1973)

Tranquil and beautiful appearances may be deceiving as this kick-ass female lead embarks on seeking revenge on those who wronged her mother. A cult classic with sly humour, the violence we witness in Snowblood could be described as balletic. This film is also seen to be strongly influential as it provided inspiration for another leading lady in our rundown, The Bride in Kill Bill (2003).

Charlize Theron: Lorraine Broughton, Atomic Blonde (2017)

Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City, Lorraine is a ruthless MI6 agent sent to Berlin on a mission. The action is well choreographed and packs a punch, however Lorraine differs from alternative women on the list as she has no reason such as revenge for violence and killings, but primarily she is just doing her job. It is safe to say that 2017 is shaping out to be a great year for kick-ass female protagonists.

The Villainess is in UK cinemas today and also available to rent on iTunes now: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/the-villainess/id1273965391?ls=1?app=itunes&ls=1

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