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Kick-Ass killer Hit Girl and 10 other ruthless heroines

Categories: Movies, Social Media, Television

The new action film Kick-Ass, which opens this week, has already caused controversy in some circles, thanks to one of its main characters: a ruthless assassin called Hit Girl, who dispatches evildoers with chilling efficiency. The twist? This cold-blooded killer happens to be a tweenage girl.

The vigilante is played by 13-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz, who was 11 when she shot the film. Some folks -- including Roger Ebert -- feel that it's "morally reprehensible" to subject such a young girl to the kind of extreme violence that appears onscreen in Kick-Ass, even if it's fictional. Others are disturbed by Hit Girl's foul language, and by the fact that she commits murder without betraying any emotions.

According to Moretz (who is not allowed to watch R-rated movies), Hit Girl is precisely the character she's been waiting for. She told the New York Times she's long yearned to play "an action hero, woman empowerment, awesome, take-charge leading role," a desire sparked in no small part by Angelina Jolie's role in Wanted.

Whether or not you approve of Hit Girl, it's heartening to hear that strong young women are feeling inspired by take-no-prisoners action heroines, and not just simpering Disney princesses. Here's a list of some butt-kicking broads who've paved the way for Moretz's tough cookie.

Fox, Wanted (2008)

Herstory: Angelina Jolie's steely gunslinger belongs to a thousand-year-old secret society of trained assassins called The Fraternity. There's some nonsense involving weavers and a "Loom of Fate," but all you really need to know is that Fraternity members have superhuman powers and are subjected to insane psycho-killer boot camp sessions.
Why we like her: Fox can bend bullets with her mind!

The Bride, Kill Bill I & 2 (2003/2004)

Herstory: Vengeance is the catalyst for the Bride's (Uma Thurman) bloody rampage. This retired gun-for-hire gets back in the assassination business after she wakes from a coma and realizes a) her unborn baby is gone; b) some sleazebag's been selling her body for sex; and c) the man who left her in a vegetative state is her former boss, Bill. The Bride has no choice -- she's got to kill Bill.
Why we like her: That slick banana-coloured jumpsuit. Those wicked sword skills. And the fact that her killing spree is motivated by a desire destroy a nasty man who seriously screwed her over.

Foxy Brown, Foxy Brown (1974)

Herstory: Foxy (Pam Grier) is determined to avenge the death of her boyfriend, who was shot down by operatives linked to a shady modeling agency. She goes undercover as a prostitute to carry out her mission; once she's on the inside, Foxy discovers an insidious vortex of sexual slavery and vows to fight on behalf of her used and abused sisters.
Why we like her: "[She] wants justice for all women whose lives are bought and sold so that a few big shots can climb up on their backs!"

Sydney Bristow, Alias (2001-2006)

Herstory: The daughter of two secret agents, Sydney (Jennifer Garner) has been unwittingly groomed for espionage since she was a wee slip of a girl. She only discovers her spy skills in early adulthood, after a mysterious figure recruits her to join what she believes to be the C.I.A.
Why we like her: Sydney's core motivation is to protect the people she loves. And she has a fairly impressive (and frequently entertaining) arsenal of outrageous costumes and clunky accents at her disposal.

Aeon Flux, Aeon Flux (1991-1995, 2005)

Herstory: Aeon Flux was first introduced in an MTV animated sci-fi show and later played by Charlize Theron in a slick live-action film that many fans felt betrayed the original spirit of both the character and the series. In both forms, she's a leggy, latex-clad operative who fights for the anarchist cause in some technology-dominated dystopian future.
Why we like her: She wants to smash the state and she's remarkably flexible.

Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992, 1997-2003)

Herstory: Having survived the mediocre 1992 film of the same name, the character of Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) relocates from Los Angeles to Sunnydale, a cheery California town that just happens to be located on a Hellmouth -- aka the abyss from whence demons emerge. The 16-year-old powerhouse grudgingly gives up the life of a typical teenager to assume her destiny as the Chosen One, slayer of otherworldly and undead baddies and saviour of the world.
Why we like her: Her vamp-staking skills are rivalled only by her verbal dexterity and wry, Joss Whedon-crafted wit.

River Tam, Firefly (2002-2003), Serenity (2005)

Herstory: The daughter of a wealthy family from the planet Osiris, River (Summer Glau) is a prodigy who was secretly trained to become a perfect assassin. After experimental surgery leaves her troubled and psychologically fragile, River and her brother Simon flee the clutches of the dominant ruling body and take refuge aboard the Firefly-class spaceship Serenity.
Why we like her: Her spatial skills are phenomenal, and her martial arts techniques are like poetry in motion.

Nikita, La Femme Nikita (1990)

Herstory: After teenage drug addict Nikita (Anne Parillaud) accidentally shoots a cop during a robbery gone bad, she is sentenced to life in prison. Shadowy operatives drug and abduct her, and when the young girl wakes up, she is given two options kill or be killed. She opts for a life of professional assassination, which becomes complicated after she falls in love with a civilian.
Why we like her: Even though she's a dissociated, cold-blooded killer, Nikita finds redemption through love.

Tank Girl, Tank Girl (1995)

Herstory: Lori Petty's off-the-wall Tank Girl -- based on the comic by Gorillaz co-founder Jamie Hewlett -- is a wacky punk-rock warrior in a dystopian society where water and power are controlled by a nefarious monolithic society. She and her sidekick Jet Girl lead an army of misfits and outlaws to battle The Man -- and save the life of Tank Girl's boyfriend's daughter.
Why we like her: She fights against a corporate monopoly and can't sleep until she rescues a little girl. The tank's pretty impressive, too.

Yu Shu-lien, Jen Yu, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)

Herstory: Yu Shu-lien (Michelle Yeoh) is a highly skilled warrior in pursuit of a stolen sword; Jen Yu (Ziyi Zhang) is the strong-willed daughter of a Manchu aristocrat who's secretly been learning martial arts techniques from Jade Fox, a Wudang master.
Why we like them: The two helped create one of the most visually stunning fight sequences in modern pop culture.

Who are your favourite onscreen heroines?
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