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Who is the best lead actress action heroine?

Women have starred in action movies before, and certainly "serious" actresses have dabbled in action, including Sigourney Weaver, who reprised her groundbreaking tough-girl performance in "Alien" in last year's "Avatar," and Halle Berry's regrettable macha turn in "Catwoman."

But now Angelina Jolie is back with Salt, a role that reaffirms her commitment to the female superhero. At 35, Jolie has won an Oscar for her role in the 1999 drama "Girl, Interrupted" and now commands $20 million per picture, but has made action a consistent and crucial part of her meteoric rise.

Is Jolie the best lead actress action heroine? Let us know below.

By Cameron Smith  |  July 21, 2010; 2:32 PM ET  | Category:  National Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Sorry, but none of those can beat Zhang Zi Yi from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. If I had to pick from the list, it'll be Jolie.

Posted by: mugengsr1 | July 21, 2010 3:57 PM

mugengsr1 ditto that, the character she plays in that movie is the best part of a great movie in my opinion. If i had to vote for one above, I'd have to give it to Uma for the Kill Bills, but I'm with you on Zhang Zi Yi.

Posted by: red2million | July 21, 2010 4:28 PM

None of the above.
Try these on for size.
Linda Hamilton-Terninator films
Meryl Streep-The River Wild

Posted by: greg-rob | July 21, 2010 4:29 PM


Try Milla Jovovich of Resident Evil/5th Element fame.

Posted by: shershey | July 21, 2010 4:29 PM

Woah, what about Linda Hamilton form the Terminators. Come on.

Posted by: octobertea | July 21, 2010 4:39 PM

giving zhang zi yi props isbasically like smacking michelle yeoh in the face.

Posted by: dugforeva | July 21, 2010 4:46 PM

This was a tough one for me. I gotta go with Weaver. Even though she was a mere freighter pilot she posessed a keen intellect and was quick on her feet. He character was very believable which I think is what I liked most about her. No costumes, powers, or martial arts, just a determination to survive the situation.

Posted by: jcollell | July 21, 2010 4:52 PM

Didn't anyone see Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight???

Posted by: giscone | July 21, 2010 5:13 PM

God, please help me. At these times of economic uncertainty, high unemployment, wars… please help me decide who the best female warrior is.

Posted by: Shanan1 | July 21, 2010 5:32 PM

Jolie is the only one on the list who has kick butt consistently in more than one or two films.

Posted by: georgetowngrad | July 21, 2010 5:51 PM

Hell Yeah, it's Angelina Jolie. HOT! HOT! HOT!

Posted by: bartedson | July 21, 2010 5:53 PM

Why is Halle Berry on this list and not Linda Hamilton? For shame!

Posted by: reiflame1 | July 21, 2010 5:59 PM

Sorry folks...

If you haven't seen her already, JeeJa Yanin is without peer the baddest lead actress action heroine alive. She plays the lead role of an autistic kung-fu savant in Prachya Pinkaew's 2008 Thai film "Chocolate," which IMHO the most amazing martial arts film that I have ever seen (available on Netflix instant watch). Here's a clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slMvpBnSG3Q

With all due respect Angelina, she would own your ass.


Posted by: jemoorman | July 21, 2010 6:18 PM

Brigitte Fonda in Femme Nikita. Great performance with deadly action and femininity in one woman.

Posted by: leschatdeux | July 21, 2010 7:29 PM

It comes down to Uma and Sigourney. Sigourney wins out because, unlike Uma's Bride, Ripley is actually apparently a human woman, not just an insanely dangerous person.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | July 21, 2010 7:50 PM

Jolie wins hands down for most action films where she was the lead among the actresses listed. Milla Jovovich is a huge omission by the way considering how many action films she has done.


I also concur with some of the other posters that certain preeminent Hong Kong actresses were not listed, but I think this is meant to be a U.S. only list.

Posted by: moebius22 | July 21, 2010 8:34 PM

If you add good looks to the occasion, Jolie is the hands down winner!

Posted by: GordonShumway | July 21, 2010 9:28 PM

You guys have certainly overlooked the mother of all women action stars: Diana Rigg. Didn't any of you grow up watching weekly episodes of The Avengers?

Posted by: danicholls | July 21, 2010 9:57 PM


Uma Thurman is the best action heroine of all time. Her role in Kill Bill I,II is second to none...

Posted by: charko825 | July 21, 2010 10:06 PM

Pam Grier! Duh!

Posted by: foldingtime | July 21, 2010 11:57 PM

You left out Chloe Moretz from "Kick Ass". That kid was AWESOME!

Posted by: jnik | July 22, 2010 3:58 AM

I think Halle Berry made the list because of Storm in that comic flick--what was it... I forget the name...with all those freaks like Wolverine... I forget the name. She definitely didn't make the list because of Catwoman, that's for darn sure. I voted for Sigourney cuz I loved her in Alien. Uma was great in Kill Bill and Angelina was good in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but I still chose Sigourney because her character had more depth in my opinion.

Posted by: forgetthis | July 22, 2010 9:56 AM

Two great female action starts were left out, Milla Jovovich in the Resident Evil movies (I find her believable as an a$$-kicker for some reason), and Lucy Lawless as Xena.

Posted by: gorble | July 22, 2010 10:01 AM

Someone who preceded all the women mentioned above was Mary Ann Evans, nicknamed Fearless Nadia, who played a major role in Indian movies starting as early as the 30's.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fearless_Nadia

"She toured India as a theatre artist and began working for Zarko Circus in 1930. She changed her name to Nadia at the insistence of a fortune-teller. She made her debut in the Arabic film Makhazane el ochak (1932), which was filmed in Egypt. She was introduced to Hindi films by J.B.H. Wadia who was the founder of Wadia Movietone, the behemoth of stunts and action in 1930s Bombay."

I think part of the reason why Indian audiences accepted such a role for a woman was the presence of Hindu goddesses, many of whom (like Kali) are quite fierce. Other goddesses like Lakshmi or Radha or Saraswati are more mild.

Posted by: rohit57 | July 22, 2010 10:48 AM

A bit more on Fearless Nadia:

"She made her debut in Hindi films with Lal-e-Yaman (1933). The film became a huge hit at the box-office and she became famous with doing stunts in Hindi films. She soon became known as India's Original Stunt Queen, after making more films with stunts. Her film career went from 1933 to 1970. 1935, saw the release of Hunterwali, and this was when she was nicknamed Hunterwali. Her role in the film—which had her dressed in tight, revealing clothes, tall boots, while wielding a whip—became iconic in 1930s India. She reprised the role in Hunterwali ki Beti some years later. She played a small role in her last film which was Ek Nanhi Munni Ladki Thi (1970). She acted in a Telugu Movie around 1967-68 as a stunt woman, full length role. Shobhan Babu was the hero. and some unknown heroine."

"Hunter" is a Hindi word for a whip.

Posted by: rohit57 | July 22, 2010 10:54 AM

I picked weaver for having the most believable character of the bunch and the best movie.

Also she at least had some muscle on her body in Aliens. Does anyone really think Jolie's skinny rear can do any real damage?

Posted by: flonzy1 | July 22, 2010 12:33 PM

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