Grrrl Power movies - Movies where a woman defeats multiple men in combat

Over the last decade or so, it is hard to ignore the trend of movies wherein a woman, often a smallish, frail-looking woman, defeats multiple men in combat. Frankly, I find this conceit a little annoying. It is so unrealistic to see a woman beating up a bunch of men that it threatens my suspension of disbelief. The evil sexist in me suspects that one day, decades from now, grrrl power action scenes will be regarded as a quaint hallmark of action films of the late 90s to 2000s. Even so, I can think of some very good movies that I like in spite of such scenes.

Let us compile a list of such movies. I’ll start with what may have been the herald of this trend:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

What others?

It’s kind of annoying because you just know she CAN’T get beaten up. It’s just “wrong” in the rules of movies. She has to win because if she gets beaten up because no one wants to see that.

I kind of hate the whole, “the woman shows up and bests the guy at pool/fighting/darts/you name it” and shows that girls rule and boys drool. It’s like she HAS to win because she’s the woman and she represents all of womankind whereas the man is just a guy. Not the representation of all guys, just some dude.

It always makes me feel like…damnit, I can’t fight or do sports. What kind of representer of my sex am I?!

Just realized you weren’t asking for this, sorry.

Both **Kill Bill **films.

And also:


Long Kiss Goodnight is one of the best of the “chicks kick ass” flicks.
Kill Bill is nothing but a woman killing everyone in sight.
Sarah Conner in T2
Bad Girls (crap movie of female gunslingers)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith had one of the leads a female action hero
Lara Croft Tomb Raider flicks (hmm - Angelina Jolie appears to specialize in these flicks).

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and lots of others like it.

The Matrix. Trinity kicks arse.

Any movie starring Milla Javovich?

I’ll throw in Ultraviolet just to narrow things down.

Well in Kill Bill the protagonist does get the crap beat out of her, she also fights a lot of women.

Serenity has a particularly egregious example whereby the grrrl karate master beats up a whole bar just for the purpose of showing she’s a badass. It couldn’t have been more cliche if Steven Seagal had helped out.

What’s particularly terrible about the scene is that it doesn’t even look like the actress is hitting her victims all that hard. Guys are going down like they’ve been poleaxed after shots to the head that wouldn’t bloody your nose.

My brother, Cricetus, who writes kids’ books (his second one should be hitting stores soon, by the way), once wrote a short story for his own amusement exploding this trope. Girl joins boys’ baseball team. Girl faces sexist razzing and skepticism fom the boys. Parents wonder if it’s a good idea to have a girl on the team. Girl works and trains hard to prove her mettle. The Big Game arrives. Girl steps up to bat with bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 9th. Girl’s team is trailing. It’s all on her. Girl pops it up. Her team loses. Boys complain about what a stupid idea it was to put a girl on the team. The end.

Written basically staright, it played pretty funny at the end. Not something he ever could have published, though.

Besides which she’d be breaking her bones to powder from the force of the blows.

Sarah Connor was totally believeable in T2, though. I think it helped that Linda whatsherface isn’t very pretty, so she was just this ripped normal-looking chick rather than some anime-style 5’2" badass with disproportionate boobs.

How about Tank Girl?

Semi-relevant xkcd link:

To be fair, it’s pretty unrealistic when a man defeats hordes of opponents as well.

Yeah, this occurred to me as well. The “Let’s dance around the main character and wait for him to pick us off one by one with a well placed blow” is unrealistic, period.

I guess when it’s a woman, though, you don’t see her getting beaten up though–sometimes you see the protagonist take some hard blows. Though as has been mentioned, Kill Bill does show this.

Sounds like a cool idea. Reminds me of that xkcd cartoon with two people messing up an equation. With one of them, it’s a guy and someone else says “You suck at math” and when it’s a girl messing up, the other person goes, “Girls suck at math.”

The upcoming Kick-Ass (April 2010), based on the Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. work, features Hit-Girl beating (and shooting) the bejeezus out of the fellows. Here’s a NSFW – audio trailer on YouTube.

I’ve not seen it, but I’ve read Faster Pussycat Kill Kill is about just that.

I laughed in The Matrix Reloaded when all the Agent Smiths just piled on Neo at the same time. It’s just not something you’re used to seeing in the movies.

Yeah, and The Fifth Element, of course.

There’s also The Long Kiss Goodnight.

I actually have a soft spot for this trope. It’s not so hard to believe when she’s using guns or bladed weapons. Hand to hand can be OK if she’s taking out some street thugs and it’s the right actress. But taking down the 300 pound trained killer? Gosh, all he has to do is exploit Standard Female Grab Area.

I admit to a fondness for this sort of scene as well; in books as well as movies.

Which is why it doesn’t bother me. If one is willing to put up with the common fictional trope of the lone fighter who can beat hordes, then it isn’t unreasonable to assume a woman with such an edge could beat up men. Fifteen men have a bigger advantage over one man than a man has over a woman, after all.

While this is an annoying trope, few of the movies listed qualify.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer can beat up hordes of demons because she has supernatural strength.

The Bride in Kill Bill only takes on hordes of guys once and wins because she’s an expert martial artist and she spends the entire scene decapitating them with her sword.

Sarah Conner in Terminator 2 only beats up two rent-a-cops (one of whom is a woman) and a frail, old doctor.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon had magic martial artists.

Trinity kicked ass in The Matrix because she was exploiting the computer system. In the real world, she wasn’t beating up anyone.

Milla Jovovich was a vampire in Ultraviolet, a genetically engineered supersoldier in Resident Evil and a god in The Fifth Element.

River in Serenity is also a genetically engineered supersoldier.