5 most impressive women who kick butt
Los Angeles: Angelina Jolie plays an indestructible CIA officer accused of being a Russian spy in "Salt".
The role allows her to do so much of what she does so well: kick butt and look impossibly sexy doing it. Following the "Tomb Raider" movies, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and "Wanted," "Salt" solidifies her standing as the most alluring and reliable female action star working today.
Jolie truly has carved out her own niche. But many actresses before her have shaken things up as intensely as the big boys, and with a bit of feminine flair:
• Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens" (1986): Thanks to this role, Weaver is synonymous with fierceness. But part of the allure of the performance is that she didn`t start out as a bad-ass: She transformed herself into one out of sheer survival and a ferocious protective instinct. In the 1979 original, directed by Ridley Scott, Weaver`s Ripley means business but she isn`t quite the killing machine she turns into under James Cameron`s direction in part two. Her climactic battle against the Queen — with her threatening line, "Get away from her, you bitch!" — is so iconic, it`s even been re-enacted for DirecTV commercials.
• Linda Hamilton in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991): Yes, more from Cameron. He does know how to get indelible performances out of strong women. Similar to Weaver, Hamilton`s also already pretty formidable as Sarah Connor in the original "Terminator" from 1984. But that early shot in the sequel of her doing pull-ups in the state hospital — those sinewy biceps pulsating with each repetition — is just a frightening sight to behold. Humans, cyborgs ... why would anyone be foolish enough to mess with her? The fact that she`s a mother adds another appealing layer to her character.
• Uma Thurman in the "Kill Bill" movies (2003 and 2004): The Bride, Beatrix Kiddo — whatever you want to call her, just be sure not to cross her. Like Sarah Connor, Thurman`s character has maternal instinct as a motivating force behind her trail of death and destruction. But The Bride is primarily out for revenge against her fellow assassins who tried to kill her on her wedding day. Her knock-down, drag-out trailer fight against Daryl Hannah is a doozy, but she`s just as capable of taking on a pack of 100 samurai-sword wielding thugs. Quentin Tarantino`s films are, of course, hugely stylish homages to the genres he loves, but since he and Thurman crafted the role together, it also feels personal — almost sweet.
• Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000): OK, so maybe it`s a bit of a cheat to pick both actresses. But they`re so intrinsically intertwined, it`s impossible to separate them. They need and feed off each other — each is the other`s equal. They`re both strong and feminine, beautiful and intelligent, athletic and crafty. And their fight scenes are lush and hypnotic under Ang Lee`s direction with choreography by Yuen Wo-Ping ("The Matrix"). Plus, it`s just a gorgeous film in which the romanticism in no way detracts from the intense martial-arts showdowns.
• Jane Fonda in "Barbarella" (1968): Sure, go ahead and laugh. But you can only imagine how difficult it is to operate a laser gun effectively while dressed in go-go dominatrix gear. The boots alone would make it tough to run and chase bad guys. This wasn`t exactly considered a "good" movie when it came out, but it`s cultivated a certain kitschy charm. Fonda, under the direction of her then-husband Roger Vadim, was all hair and legs and campy sex appeal as a futuristic, intergalactic warrior goddess. There was even talk in recent years about Tarantino`s "Grindhouse" co-director, Robert Rodriguez, doing a remake. And any movie that influenced Duran Duran couldn`t be all bad.