I'm having a bad week. Every one of my best laid plans for this last month of the decade has come unstuck and now I am all but entombed in my studio, working my butt off to clear a backlog of chores and paperwork in between working on studies for a handful of enamel paintings that I've decided will be my last for a while. My bone-tired body aches for relief.At the end of the day, I flop in front of cable TV and empty my brain by watching a couple of hours of full-bore action flicks. It's no secret that I harbor a deep-seated fantasy about being a slinky, sinewy, gun-toting, fearless über-bitch who can dispatch her enemies with a barbed aside – and if that doesn't work, a swift kick to the face or a hail of hand-loaded bullets. Thankfully, there are plenty of role models. These are my top ten:Aeon Flux is probably my favorite – but in the original, eponymous, avant-garde animation by Peter Chung, not the live-action travesty in which she's played by an altogether unsexy Charlize Theron. Nihilistic, moody, morally ambiguous and mercenary, I love everything about her: from her two-piece, vinyl skin-suit to her provocative acrobatics and improbable guns, she's a role model for 21st century girls.
Trevor Goodchild: What you truly want, only I can give.
Aeon Flux: You can't give it. You can't even buy it. And you just don't get it.Sarah Connor, The Terminator's distaff human nemesis was probably better played by Lena Headey than she was by Linda Hamilton, less neurotic and nervy, more competent and disciplined, even if both defined a new dimension for over-protective mothers. Then again, give Linda some heavy calibre firepower and she comes into her own – and the frisson of danger causes a younger generation of hard-bodied dykes to cum with her. (Actually, come to think of it, they probably have a jones for the TV series' female Terminator, played by Summer Glau.)La Femme Nikita is only Anne Parillaud – and no-one else. She played the junkie murderer turned intense, conflicted but casually chic government assassin in the original French film directed by Luc Besson. Complicated, vulnerable, naive, post-punk, she was a refreshing deconstruction of the little-black-dress-clad material girls of the late '80s. There have been many love scenes played out in bathrooms, especially in French films, but none quite so intensely as Nikita's.GoGo Yubari, O-Ren Ishii's murderous Japanese bodyguard in Quentin Tarentino's Kill Bill was, for a while, the object of some of my most persistent sex fantasies. An ultra-violent, bloodthirsty, perverse kogyaru (high school girl) in a pleated, tartan mini-skirt, long socks and white blouse, what she lacks in age, she makes up for in madness. She also has balls of steel – literally – and a bad attitude towards any boy who doesn't take her fancy.Gogo: Do you want to screw me? Don't laugh! Do you want to screw me, yes or no?
Gogo: [stabbing him with a sword]: How 'bout now, big boy? Do you still wish to penetrate me... or is it I... who has penetrated you?Satanico Pandimonio in Tarantino's and Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk 'Til Dawn – played by a young, flexible and pneumatic Salma Hayek – does (for me) the sexiest movie dance to the coolest film soundtrack ever: "For your viewing pleasure: the mistress of the macabre, the epitome of evil, the most sinister woman to dance on the face of the earth." She pours Quentin Tarrantino's drink down her leg and gets him to suck it as it runs off her toes. One whiff of blood and her breasts heave with lust and yearning before she turns into a hideous, killer vampire. The boys had it coming.Selene, played by Kate Beckinsale in Underworld, is a vampire hit-woman on the side of good and style, in collar-to-toe skin-tight leather bondage gear – and a leather trench-coat that'd make Neo from The Matrix drool with envy. Like Aeon Flux, her hand-to-hand combat is as sensual (and as rough) as good sex and her guns are as intricate as they are big. She gets the good boy-wolf in the end, despite more obstacles than a Shakespearean romance, and so fulfils the fantasies that still lurk in the hearts of the hardest bitches.Selene: Lycans are allergic to silver. We have to get the bullets out quickly, or they end up dying on us during questioning.
Michael Corvin: What happens to them afterward?
Selene: We put the bullets back in. Andrea 'Scarface' Caracortada from Pedro Almodovar's Kika, doesn't carry a gun or kill anyone but with breasts and an off-kilter fashion sense like hers (amazing outfits by Gaultier), she doesn't have to. Obsessed with morbid footage for her tabloid tv show, she's completely and fabulously crazy.Mia Wallace, played by Uma Thurman, in Pulp Fiction, doesn't kill anyone either. She doesn't have to (her husband does enough killing on his own). She's ineffably cool, especially when she dances with an even cooler John Travolta. White shirt, black slacks, blunt haircut and vampish deep red nail polish – if a legion of skinny fashion models weren't already, I'd dress like her every day.Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver in the original and best of the Alien films, directed by Ridley Scott, is the definitive hard girl. With shaved head, sweat-soaked white singlet and white panties, she doesn't wince when splattered with alien saliva or human blood. Instead, she faces down the queen beast armed, like all the girls who came after her, with an improbably big gun: "Get away from her, you bitch!" It goes without saying that Ripley has been a hero of mine since I was a little kid.River Tam, played by Summer Glau (again) in Joss Whedon's space cowboy fantasy, Serenity, is probably the action girl for whom I feel the most empathy. Hermitic, shy and damaged (from invasive experiments on her brain by un-named evil scientists), she exudes a free-flowing, flower-child spacey-ness that verges on being dissociative until it's punctuated by episodes of incisive, rational, elevated intelligence that come to her in the most unlikely moments. She's also dangerous, with a suprisingly practised ability not just to kick ass but to kill if the whimsy takes her. Who would have thought – an assassin with the soul of an artist? So who's your heroine heroin?