<p><em>Believability.</em> It’s a key commodity for an action star.</p>
<p>No amount of kinetic, fast-twitch, shuffle-cut editing can make an actor look like they know what the hell they’re doing in a fight—as anyone who’s watched John Stamos throw a volley of noodle-wristed, gas-armed whiffles during his fight scenes in the 1991 biker pic <em>Born to Ride</em> can attest. (Sorry, Uncle Jesse. You just didn’t have the juice.)</p>
<p>But plenty of guys <em>do</em>. Tom Hardy’s got it. Early Eric Bana had it. Steven Segal sorta had it, until he got all roly-poly and potato-faced and took to wearing embroidered Mandarin waistcoats.</p>
<p>And the same goes for female action stars. Some got it, some don’t. (Some—Scarlett Johansson, Halle Berry—just look agreeable in tight patent leather, so we forgive them.)</p>
<p>But here, a list of 10 female stars who most definitely <em>bring it</em>. Read this...and weep for your weakness.</p>
<h3><font color=”red” font family=“Arial”>Geena Davis</font></h3>
That’s right—Thelma, from that riot about two daffy broads whose faulty GPS causes their car to sail off a cliff. Why not? She’s tall and freakishly athletic and almost qualified for the <a href =“ http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/sports/archer-brady-ellison-aims-for-...”>Olympics in archery</a>, for Pete’s sake! And in <em>The Long Kiss Goodnight</em> she brings her formidable physical talents to bear as amnesiac assassin Elizabeth Baltimore. Midway through the film she shears off her hair, dyes it platinum blonde and starts whipping <em>serious</em> ass.
<h3><font color=”red” font family=“Arial”>Tamara Dobson</font></h3>
If her name is unfamiliar, you need to bone up on the “blackspoitation” film movement of the 70s. While it introduced us to a rogue’s gallery of surly anti-authoritarians like John Shaft, the movement also gifted us with actresses such as Pam Grie —who embodied tough characters with names like “Foxy Brown” and “Coffy.”</p>
But even Grier (a near-miss on this list) takes a backseat to Dobson, a statuesque powerhouse best known for her embodiment of the titular character in 1973’s <em>Cleopatra Jones</em>. Dig on the film’s tagline: She’s 6 feet 2” of Dynamite … and the Hottest Super Agent Ever! Dobson lives up to the hype, kicking nine kinds of ass all over the screen.
<h3><font color=”red” font family=“Arial”>Sigourney Weaver</font></h3>
The alpha and omega. No list of filmic badasses is complete without <em>Alien</em>’s Ripley. She’s tough-as-nails, durable, nearly impervious to sulfuric alien drool. Could Ripley beat you up? Ripley would look at you standing there, squared up to fight, and say: “Son, <em>please</em>.” If you tried to snatch the pebble from her palm she’d say: “You want it, grasshopper? Here, then—<em>have it</em>!” and stuff it up your nose, then punch you down a flight of stairs, steal your wallet and commit random, free-spirited acts of identity theft just for kicks. She’s Ripley, you’re not. Deal with it.</p>
<h3><font color=”red” font family=“Arial”>Uma Thurman</font></h3>
Sure, she showed inklings: Poison Ivy in <em>Batman & Robin</em>, Emma Peel in <em>The Avengers</em>. But for most viewers Thurman was no more than a wispy, gawky (if sexily so) romantic leading lady. She was Kate Hudson before Kate Hudson was a thing.</p>
Then came Tarantino’s <em>Kill Bill</em>—say what you want about the man, but Tarantino always puts strong female characters on screen (see also: Pam Grier in <em>Jackie Brown</em>; Patricia Arquette in <em>True Romance</em>). Even while paralyzed from the neck-down, Thurman’s Beatrix Kiddo exuded an air of coiled menace. She could ruin you and not think much about it.
<h3><font color=”red” font family=“Arial”>Grace Jones</font></h3>
The 70s-era disco queen’s physical gifts were showcased most memorably as psychotic henchwoman May Day in <em>A View to a Kill</em>, the 14th installment of the James Bond franchise. Who can forget the scene where she locks Roger Moore’s neck between her legs while he’s blurting out some hammy off-color quip (“This <em>is</em> a tight squeeze—<em>urk</em>!”)? She cinched her thighs so tightly that she nearly popped his over-tanned head off like a dandelion.
<h3><font color=”red” font family=“Arial”>Rachel McLish</font></h3>
The pleasantly-muscled IFBB Ms. Olympia champ went on to have a sterling film career in such <em>cinema verite</em> fare as <em>Raven Hawk</em>: a socially-conscious film, produced by Italians, about a Native American woman (McLish, who is Spanish) wreaking revenge on greedy oilmen who framed her for murder because, yeah, they’re greedy oilmen.</p>
<p>Highs: Mucho exploding cars and hilarious 90s-era cell phones, loving CUs of McLish’s striated back muscles, goons getting punched off a speedboat. Lows: No fight scene between a raven and a hawk, as title seems to imply—obviously, a huge disappointment for bird-fight enthusiasts.</p>
<h3><font color=”red” font family=“Arial”>Sybil Danning</font></h3>
One of the original B-movie queens, Danning’s fetching physique led to a string of exploitation film roles in which she bared said physique on the regular—she’s shown here displaying her, er, best weapons in 1983’s <em>Hercules</em>. But most guys who came of age in the 80s and early 90s will remember her as Stirba, the wanton, murderous werewolf in the 1985 sequel-in-name-only to <em>The Howling</em>, titled: <em>Howling II: Stirba, Werewolf Bitch</em>. Also starring Chistopher Lee, the movie showcased Danning kicking ass in revealing, S&M-style fashions. It also features the best closing credits ever, wherein Danning rips her top off eighteen times. <em>Eighteen</em>! Bless her heart. But don’t leer, fellows; she’ll kill you.
<h3><font color=”red” font family=“Arial”>Cynthia Rothrock</font></h3>
Is she <em>The Perfect Weapon</em>? No, that would be Jeff Speakman, but Rothrock <em>is</em> pretty awesome. The former karate champion made a career transition to a B-movie grinder in the 80s, and she’s been churning out chop-socky flicks ever since—facing a revolving carousel of D-list villains such as melty-faced character actor Billy Drago (the sonofabitch who shot Sean Connery in The <em>Untouchables</em>) and Brain Johnson (aka: The Night Slasher, Sly Stallone’s nemesis in <em>Cobra</em>). Rothrock’s still grinding them out; upcoming projects include <em>Rogue Space: The Adventures of Saber Raine</em> and the intriguingly-titled <em>Santa’s Summer House.</em></p>
<h3><font color=”red” font family=“Arial”>Linda Hamilton</font></h3>
Were we to erect a Mount Rushmore of female action stars, Hamilton would be up there (with Weaver, Rothrock and … Thurman?) for her physical transformation for <em>Terminator 2</em>. You remember how De Niro got all ripped then all flabby for <em>Raging Bull</em>? Or how Edward Norton got jacked for <em>American History X</em>? Hamilton’s transformation exceeded both of those.</p>
</p>Before <em>T2</em>, it was her lot to be saved by beasts: She was King Kong’s love object in <em>King Kong Lives</em>, and the Beauty to Ron Perlman’s Beast in TV’s <em>Beauty and the Beast</em>. In <em>T2</em>, Hamilton was a beast; the first time you see her onscreen—slabbed in muscle, busting out chinups in the loonybin—now <em>that</em> was a shock that could knock us on our ass alone.
<h3><font color=”red” font family=“Arial”>Zoe Bell</font></h3>
<p>Bell is an Australian import who got her start as a stuntwoman — she was the one making Uma Thurman look good in Kill Bill, as well as Lucy Lawless in <em>Xena: The Warrior Princess</em>. Her first acting role came in Quentin Tarantino’s <em>Death Proof</em>, where she spends a great deal of it on the hood of a car driven by Kurt Russell’s character, Stuntman Mike, blitzing down the road at 60mph. Just look at her—you know, somewhere deep inside, that she could squash you like a bug.