Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Action Figures

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 ├╝ber-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?

Man: Yes
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.
, 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.
, 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?


Fogbound said...

That's interesting! I guess we all have our fantasies we will never live out, other than in our minds, but we still enjoy them. The imagination is a great thing. I find it frees me from the mundane existence my days often become and keeps life interesting.

Barbara J Carter said...

Aeon Flux, watched surreptitiously on late-night MTV, was a guilty pleasure back in the day. And of course I adored Sigourney's Ripley in all of the Alien movies. I'll have to check out some of your other mentions.

I will admit to enjoying Halle Berry in Catwoman more than is quite proper.

Emma Kirsopp said...

Its between Ripley from Alien (she was pretty amazing as the hybrid alien in the fourth film) or Leeloo form The Fifth Element. Anyone who can kick arse like that in Gautier, well...

Emma Kirsopp said...

that should have been Gaultier! Whoops!

Carina said...

Samus Aran, from Nintendos Metroid game series.

High tech powersuit, packs more firepower than a small army, is the best bountyhunter in her galaxy and has blown up till date three planets, two space stations and countless other stuff.

Although I have to admit, I liked her six-pack-abs, muscle legs, black bikini carrying (under the suit) version better than the current barby like reincarnation.

Tina Mammoser said...

Ditto on some of yours. I have a weakness for Milla Jovovich in the Resident Evil films. Unfortunately haven't watched the last one because film 1 was just silly rubbish so I was taken by surprise when film 2 scared the bejesus out of me! haha! I'm such a wuss. You wouldn't know my teen years were filled with horror films.

And pretty much any "uniforms in space" type sci-fi. I'm a sucker for a short-haired gal in uniform.

Thanks for your list, you've given me with my Christmas week viewing!

Princess Rashid said...

Great choices especially River Tam of Serenity. I would only add the character of Kara Thrace (Starbuck) played by Katie Sackoff from Battlestar Galactica (BSG)...that last season especially...she totally kicked ass!

Actually the entire female cast of BSG rocked it!

JenXer said...

Leeloo, from The Fifth Element. She's the most powerful creation in the universe, yet is still vulnerable and at times unsure of her own strength...except when she adopts her role as a badass.

"Me Fifth Element. Me protect you. Sleep."

Selene and River Tam are definitely on my list, as well. My favorite scenes of theirs are when Selene jumps from the tall building, lands, and seamlessly starts walking; and River's dance-inspired fight scene in Serenity.

And despite the fact that it's a terrible, horrible, cheesetastic movie, I love Charly Baltimore, Geena Davis's character from "The Long Kiss Goodnight":

"Life is pain. Get used to it."

sue beyer said...

I love Charly Baltimore, Geena Davis's character from "The Long Kiss Goodnight" also!! That's the first character I thought of when reading Hazel's post.
The BSG girls are great too!

faunawolf said...

Aeon Flux is one of my absolute favourite characters and animations. All the animators who have worked on it are incredibly talented. It's brilliant twisted stuff.

Anonymous said...

An article on Alien, Ripley, and sexual politics I think you might find interesting.

Anonymous said...

I like Angelina Jolie in any of her many action roles. I love her gorgeously confident poise when she holds & uses a gun.


Rob Reeves said...

How did you know all of my Femme Fatale fantasies? Aeon Flux was a visual revelation for me in high college.