Thursday, March 31, 2011

Feminist Action-Adventure Movies

So there's a lot of noise about Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch," an action adventure about a young girl's attempt to escape from a mental hospital. I saw the trailer and it looks amazing: dragons, Nazi's and samurai swords - does it really get better than that? And to top it off, you've got five young women kicking ass and taking names (granted, they're in fishnets and school uniforms, but still). Now, while I'm excited about the movie, I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy it, and here's why:

First of all, I love action adventure movies, but I've long given up on seeing any strong female characters who don't have to be rescued by the hero at some point in the movie, no matter how ass-kicky she is at first. Second, it's directed by Zack Snyder, the man who gave us the ab-tastic, but essentially plotless "300." Third, it's gotten mixed reviews. Those who liked it, really, really liked it. And those who didn't, thought it was the end of the world. Not good.

So, in case you see and find that it offends your feminist sensibilities, here are some action-adventure movies with (truly) strong female leads that will wash its taste out of your mouth.

1. The Quick and the Dead (1995): A mysterious female gunslinger enters an elimination tournament for the best gunslingers in the West in order to get to the town's sadistic mayor, the man who murdered her father.  Saw this the other night and it reminded me why I love Sharon Stone. She may be famous for that one scene in that one movie (you know what I'm talking about), but this is her at her best. Also featuring a young Leonardo DiCaprio, Gene Hackman and Russell Crowe.

2. Cutthroat Island (1995): Geena Davis is a crafty female pirate going up against the boys and holding her own in this madcap race to find hidden treasure. At lot more buckle for your swash than "Pirates of the Caribbean," and on a much cheaper budget.

3. Alien (1979): In this sci-fi classic, a mining crew responding to an SOS discovers some of the scariest creatures ever to pop out of Hollywood's imagination. Sigourney Weaver plays Ripley, a woman caught in a situation far bigger than herself who still manages to come out swinging.

4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000): An impetuous young martial arts prodigy wreaks havoc when she steals a special sword. Two legendary warriors set off in pursuit, but they must also contend with the thief's former lover who also wants her back. The fight scenes are amazing and the Zhang Ziyi, who plays the lead role, is both infuriating and mesmerizing all at once.


Ok, I've spent an inordinate amount of time on this post. There are a bunch of movies that have strong female characters, but because they lacked compassion for other women (these women were just as dismissive and contemptuous of other women as male action leads often are) they were disqualified as "Chicks with Guns." so if anyone has other suggestions for great, feminist action movies, please let me know. 

14 comments:

  1. "300" was plotless? WHAT?! Excuse me...

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  2. I also liked 300, and not just for the Abs, lol. The plot was not intricate but it was there.

    As for Chick Flicks, did you see Kill Bill? Of the ones you listed, I liked Crouching Tiger the most.

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  3. Come on guys, 300 was a pretty movie, but it was essentially a three-page story.

    @Myne, I wanted to put in Kill Bill, then I realized that the movie hadn't been very kind to any of its female characters. They were all essentially playing to the male gaze. None of them had depth, or substance or complexity and nearly all of them were subordinate to a male character. They were essentially, "chicks with Guns." An awesome action movie, but not a feminist one.

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  4. Informative read about adventure movies,I like them more than anything else.I enjoy adventure movies,and action movies as well,especially those which have sequels.

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  5. I absolutely adore "The quick and the dead" especially it's mood and era. I mean it's the good old 'cowboy-me-big-gun-me-I-SHOOT-U-DEAD!" movie but with a girl kicking ass along with the best of them.

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  6. "Kick-Ass" with Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl is a possibility. There were several strong female leads in Sci-Fi's TV show "Battlestar Galactica" - The President, Starbuck, 6 - but that's not a movie. How about Pam Grier in "Jackie Brown"?

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  7. Also, Angelina Jolie in "Salt" and maybe Natalie Portman as Mathilda in "Leon the Professional."

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  8. Also, Dame Judi Dench has played "M" - James Bond's boss - in the previous six movies.

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  9. @Bob, I hesitate to agree with your designation of Chole Moretz in Kick Ass or Natalie Portman in Leon. I think this New York Times article, a discussion between veteran movie critics Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/movies/women-as-violent-characters-in-movies.html?ref=movies), may explain my ambivalence better than I could.

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  10. i would like to know the name of a movie in which the story is there is a group of women , they all like trekking or may adventure. it begins like this group is in boat of inflated rubber which goes through very hard flowing river(i dont the name of that game) and after that a lady returns home in her suv and meets and accident and her husband and daughter are killed. so other women decides to go for an adventure like going through a cave. this group gets lost and the enemy of their is a another group of human like creature white in color and is a kind of mutants. they cant see and will some of the women and some women kills their group members itself. the story is some what like this. if any one know the name plz reply me at my mail vj4vinujose@gmail.com thank you

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  11. "The Long Kiss Goodnight" with Geena Davis was fantastic!

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