She'll Rough You Up

By Stern, Marlow | Newsweek, January 23, 2012 | Go to article overview

She'll Rough You Up


Stern, Marlow, Newsweek


Byline: Marlow Stern

Move over, Angelina. Gina Carano is the latest female warrior to grace the big screen.

Ewan McGregor is shaking in his boots. "You shouldn't think of her as being a woman--that would be a mistake," he warns in Steven Soderbergh's new spy thriller, Haywire. The object of his anger is vengeful Mallory Kane, played by Gina Carano. A man fearing a woman? It wasn't always this way.

When James Cagney smashed a grapefruit into the face of his sulking girlfriend, played by Mae Clarke, in the 1931 gangster saga The Public Enemy, audiences didn't think twice about his woman-mauling ways.

Fast-forward to the early 1970s, when the rise of second-wave feminism spurned a backlash against "dominant cinema" portraying women as objects of male sexual desire or physical aggression.

According to filmmaker and rabid cineaste Quentin Tarantino, the female action hero was born with Pam Grier, who embodied seductive, revenge-seeking badasses in '70s blaxploitation films Coffy and Foxy Brown. James Cameron took it one step further with androgynous-looking heroine Ellen Ripley in Aliens, and the trend continues, from Uma Thurman's vengeful samurai in Kill Bill up to a new warrior princess in Pixar's Brave, out in June.

But now the evolution of the female action hero is taking a giant leap forward. …

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