Action movies are expected to feature explosions, gunplay, martial arts, and tough heroes who aren’t afraid to punch, kick, or shoot their way out of a situation. Although the protagonists featured in this film genre have traditionally been male, the days when only men were cast in lead roles in action movies are thankfully behind us. Today, many action movies made in Hollywood and around the world feature incredible female action stars in a wide variety of roles.
From traditional martial arts films set in ancient times to big-budget sci-fi flicks set in dystopian futures, women are proving that punching, kicking, and shooting aren’t just for men. Here are seven female action stars that have mastered the art of kicking butt on the silver screen.
1. Pam Grier in Coffy, Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown, etc.
Pam Grier made her mark as a tough-as-nails action star in classic 1970s blaxploitation films like Coffy and Foxy Brown. In these films, Grier established her well-known action movie persona of a sexy, but strong, woman who isn’t afraid to take matters of justice or revenge into her own hands.
Although many of the films in this genre were low-budget productions with some stereotypical elements, perhaps no single actress has helped blaze a trail for female action movie stars in America as much as Grier has. As seen in the trailer above, director Quentin Tarantino paid homage to Grier’s strong archetypal female action persona by casting her in the title role of his 1997 crime drama, Jackie Brown.