I read the other day an online rumor that there were plans to put together a female version of the testosterone flick The Expendables. Naturally I started wondering who would feature in the cast, if such a movie ever became a reality.
The first two names that came to mind were the actresses made famous by James Cameron in the ’80’s, namely Sigourney Weaver playing Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise (who can ever forget the line “Get away from her, you BITCH!”) and Linda Hamilton who as Sarah Connor, transformed from the fluffy haired victim in The Terminator to muscle-and-leather-bound uber-mama in the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Not to mention the fact that Sigourney Weaver also flexed her action chops in Galaxy Quest and Avatar.
Next up was the name which most people would probably have thought of when thinking of female action stars, none other than Angelina Jolie. While the two Lara Croft movies from 2001 and 2003 have pretty much secured her legacy as action star, she has also kicked butt in films like Gone in Sixty Seconds, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Salt.
Speaking of Tomb Raider, one cannot forget the actress who was the original role model for the character in the computer game, British actress/ model/ singer Rhona Mitra. Mitra is not really a big name outside of the fanboy club, but she had a particularly good action role in the futuristic action thriller Doomsday.
Asia has a great representative in Michelle Yeoh, who has had her fair share of action roles, from playing a Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies to the martial arts expert in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Another Asian action star I am a big fan of is Vietnamese-American Maggie Q. Maggie Q hasn’t really had a big breakout hit, but she did have a significant baddie role in Live Free or Die Hard and supporting good girl roles in Mission:Impossible III and Priest.
Then we move to second-tier action franchises from the past decade. Kate Beckinsdale figured that she didn’t have much of a future acting in Shakespearean comedies (Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Kenneth Brannagh way back in 1993) or wallflower love interests (Pearl Harbor), so she went and became a vampire in the Underworld series, starting in 2003 and still going strong with the 4th edition having been released this year.
In a similar vein, Milla Jovovich has become the face of the Resident Evil franchise, battling zombies over 5 films running from 2002 to 2012. For a change of pace, she decided to take on vampires in another futuristic action film Ultraviolet in 2006. And of course, she started her scifi action-adventure journey playing the alien Leeloo in one of my all-time favourite films, Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. On the other end of the spectrum, she has also played Joan of Arc in Besson’s The Messenger, back in 1999.
One actress who has appeared in different action franchises, sort of like a ‘female hero-for-hire’ is Michelle Rodriguez. She has appeared in two films from Fast and Furious franchise and is slated to appear in the 6th edition filming currently. She has also appeared alongside Milla Jovovich in a couple of the Resident Evil movies. She was in James Cameron’s Avatar, the flop video-game adaptation BloodRayne, alien invasion film Battle: Los Angeles, Robert Rodriguez’s Machete and…you get the picture.
I did think about the 3 ladies in the Charlie’s Angels movies, but then I disqualified them because other than those films, they are better know for their work in other genres – Cameron Diaz (screwball comedy), Drew Barrymore (romantic comedy) and Lucy Liu (err…nothing, really). Having said that, Cameron Diaz may just qualify on the basis of her Charlie’s Angels films and her team-up with Tom Cruise in Knight and Day. But I shudder to put Cameron Diaz on the same pedestal as Sigourney Weaver.
Similarly, Jessica Alba is another actress who has been in a few action movies, but I would hesitate to call her a female action star. She played Sue Storm in the two Fantastic Four movies and famously was picked by James Cameron back in 1999 to play genetically-engineered super-soldier Max Guevara in the TV series Dark Angel.
And perhaps to round it off, if the team needed a leader, we could go with ’70’s blaxploitation star Pam Grier, who I see as a sort of Nick Fury-type commander giving the girls the details of their next mission.
Now, all we have to do is wait for someone to write a script. Oh wait, we’re talking action movies here, we don’t need a script! Let’s just get them to sign a contract and get started…