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Mar 152013
 

Highly skilled warriors have always been both inspirational and interesting heroes in pop culture. From martial artists to “chosen ones” with special powers, these ladies really make an impression with their amazing skills. Here are some of my favorites, who I find fascinating.

#10) Red Sonja (Brigitte Nielsen) from Red Sonja: This warrior is not only highly skilled with a sword, but also has an amazing jumping ability. I like to think of Sonja as a pre-Xena kind of warrior woman, even though she is difficult, especially when it comes to winning her heart by defeating her in a fair fight.

#9) Yim Wing Chun (Michelle Yeoh) from Wing Chun: Now here’s a martial artist like no other. She not only has fast reflexes, some of which are highly exaggerated, but also has a comedic wit. Wing Chun makes all of her fight moves look so smooth and easy that not even the toughest bandits can touch her. Her only limit is that she never kills. She only toys with her foes. It’s all part of what makes Wing Chun a big favorite of mine.

#8) Alice (Milla Jovovich) from Resident Evil films: Amazing combat skills and smooth moves are what make her the hottest heroine in the franchise. Whenever faced with ravenous zombies, mutant canines, or other dangerous beasts, Alice will fight it. Alice’s abilities are so extraordinary that Umbrella Corp decided to make many clones of her, which keep getting killed in their deadly obstacle course. It just seems so wasteful.

#7) Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: She was once a high school cheerleader, only to receive the strength and skill of a type of warrior called the slayer. Now Buffy spends much of her spare time battling evil supernatural beings from vampires to demons and sometimes the rebellious slayer Faith with her martial arts and comedic wit. Luckily, Buffy never has to fight alone.

#6) Helen (Gina Torres) from Cleopatra 2525: She leads the trio of freedom fighters and is the only one who can communicate with the anonymous Voice because of the receptor inside her ear. Helen is a courageous fighter, but has a personal grudge against Creegan for murdering her father. Whenever Helen faces Creegan she struggles to stay focused on the task at hand. Luckily, her teammates Sarge and Cleo are always there to watch her back.

#5) Princess Amelia (Amber Benson) from Attack of the Gryphon: She is the princess of Lockland and a noble leader. Whatever the adversary, man or beast, Amelia shows no fear, especially when there’s a task. I admire her devotion, but she hardly ever loosens up. I wonder what Amelia does on her leisure time when she’s not fighting battles, or going on quests to save her kingdom.

#4) Beatrix Kiddo a.k.a. the Bride (Uma Thurman) from Kill Bill: She was a trained assassin specialized with any kind of weapon. When Beatrix decides to give up that lifestyle, she gets hunted down and nearly killed by Bill, her lover and sensei. Although Beatrix’s main focus is revenge, I sure admire her will power. Even against overwhelming odds, she never lets up.

#3) Chun-Li from Street Fighter franchise: Ever since her first appearance on the Street Fighter 2 Super NES video game, Chun-Li has always been a huge favorite in the franchise with her jumping skill, powerful kicking moves, and sex appeal. There have been at least several versions of Chun-Li over the years, but her story is always the same. She didn’t become a street fighter for personal glory. Chun-Li merely wants revenge on Bison for her father’s murder. Here are a few of my favorite movie versions.

Street Fighter: Ming Na plays the role as a reporter covering the war in Shadowloo, but also goes undercover in an attempt to take her revenge.

Street Fighter 2 the Animated Movie: In this Anime film, Chun-Li is an Interpol agent. She has the same grudge against Bison, but always keeps a clear head because she knows that duty comes before personal feelings.

Street Fighter the Legend of Chun-Li: The most recent version played by Kristin Kreuk features more of Chun-Li’s background, including how she learns to use the Hado fireball from later Street Fighter video games.

#2) Xena (Lucy Lawless) from Xena Warrior Princess: She was once a dangerous warlord, but thanks to Hercules she now uses the many skills she developed over the years to become a heroic warrior. Like Hercules, Xena travels around helping others in need while making up for a lifetime of evil. Some of her fighting moves are highly exaggerated, but I admire her strength because even while Xena is vulnerable, she can still kick butt easily.

#1) Charmed Ones from Charmed: If there’s one team of women that deserve to be on top, it’s the Halliwell sisters.

Prue (Shannen Doherty) is the courageous leader. Combined with her telekinetic powers, I definitely see Prue worthy of the title Noble Warrior.

Piper (Holly Marie Combs) has the power to freeze anything in its place. Her powers eventually expand with the ability to blow up enemies. Of course it’s really Piper’s comedic persona, which usually comes from being irritated, that makes her a big favorite.

Phoebe’s (Alyssa Milano) power is only limited to premonitions, but don’t underestimate her. Phoebe’s martial art skills always pack quite a punch in battle.

Then there’s Paige (Rose McGowan), who is half witch and half white lighter. Her telekinetic power is different from Prue’s, but still just as useful in battle. It’s also neat that Paige can orb anywhere at anytime, which gives the Charmed ones more of an edge.

Aug 202010
 

Yeah, like me.

What makes a great villain? Usually it’s a wickedly tough adversary that the hero(s) must go up against in order to protect the innocent. In many superhero stories, there are usually quite a few different archenemies. Each of them is colorful in their own way.

Let’s take Batman for example. He fights criminals all over Gotham City, but the only villains who are most popular are the colorful ones, such as Joker, Penguin, Cat Woman, Riddler, etc. because they stick out from the rest as much as the superhero.

Dick Tracy is another perfect example. The criminals he fights all have various quirks, which they are named after, like Mumbles, Flat Top, Prune Face, Itchy, etc. I’ll tell ya, if it wasn’t for that, Dick Tracy would never have made it as an icon, no matter how heroic he was.

From an artistic perspective, a great villain is an enemy who is not only colorful, but is evenly matched to the hero. That way it appears more like a 50/50 chance on who will come out on top.

I have here a top five list of my most favorite match-ups that help explain my point.

#5) He-Man vs. Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Skeletor’s motive is simple, he wants to rule the world. He-Man is the only one who can stop him and maintain peace in Eternia. It sounds a little one-sided at first, but now I understand that it’s merely a power struggle between the strongest beings representing good and evil.

#4) Obi-Won Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) vs. Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) from Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith: These two Jedi warriors used to be partners. With the seduction of Darth Sidous and unfair treatment of the Jedi counsel, Anakin had completely turned rogue. That soon led to their exciting one on one battle, but what was really touching was when after Obi-Won won the fight, he still felt devastated from Anakin’s betrayal just as any mentor would feel if their protégé turns on them.

#3) John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) vs. Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) from Demolition Man: The motives for these two need no introduction, cop vs. convict. However, the relationship goes deeper when Phoenix gets Spartan arrested with him. The battle scenes between them became more intense when Phoenix develops some new combat skills, which challenges Spartan even more. 

#2) Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) vs. Faith (Eliza Dushku) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: These two are both slayers and used to be friends. Although Faith was troubled to begin with, her reason for turning rogue was different. She wanted to live on the wild side and be free, but Buffy knows better. That soon caused some friction between them as to how the slaying should be done. On the other hand, don’t you just love a good cat fight?

#1) Xena (Lucy Lawless) vs. Callisto (Hudson Leick) from Xena: Warrior Princess: Let’s certainly not forget this classic match-up. Years ago when Xena was evil, she conquered Callisto’s home village and killed her family. That drove her to become more like Xena in every way possible while vowing revenge. Callisto had definitely succeeded, even from beyond the grave, if you know what I mean. As beautiful as she was, it’s really Callisto’s psychotic persona that makes her a favorite of mine.

Basically a good villain is one who is worthy of the title. Whether it’s personal grudges or being consumed by a dark power, villains have goals, but it’s their evil intent that gives them bad karma, which is also enjoyable to watch at times.

Sep 212009
 

Like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999), Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001) was also well-made with battle scenes, special effects, story lines based on Greek Mythology, and lots of fighting without buckets of blood. Of course Xena (Lucy Lawless) is a fictional character but she still stood out as her own. Xena is a highly skilled sexy kickbutt warrior woman with many of the same qualities as Hercules has the same kinds of adventures in Ancient Greece.

Some of Xena’s most memorable skills are the highly exaggerated ones like; pressure points that cuts off blood flows within the human body, rapid kicks while jumping in midair, and of course her chakram that works like a boomerang with an attitude. It makes ya wonder. How does she do that?

 Xena was a heartless violent warlord until she met Hercules and got her own series. She spends the rest of her life making amends for her past deeds. Her sidekick Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) was very likable. She not only fights by Xena’s side with a bo staff, but also keeps Xena from reverting back to her violent ways. There were some points where the two of them appeared to be lesbian lovers, but I don’t think that was the case at all. As far as I can tell, it was just a close friendship, very close.

Of all the different villains Xena has fought, Callisto (Hudson Leick) is the perfect arch nemesis, and I’m not just saying that because she’s pretty. The two of them are evenly matched rivals and Callisto has personal issues with Xena. The trauma Callisto received during her childhood also caused her to become totally insane. Callisto cheats death and becomes immortal later on. I’m sure it was merely a way for her to appear in more episodes, considering that she was killed after only her second appearance.

A reoccurring character in the last season was Eve, Xena’s daughter all grown up, played by the beautiful Adrienne Wilkinson. I met her at Mega-Con Orlando in 2008. She was very sweet and as you can see really gorgeous too!

 Adrienne Wilkinson and me

Some of the memorable characters from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys make appearances on this show also.  They include Autolycus (Bruce Campbell), Salmoneus (Robert Trebor), Ares (Kevin Smith), Aphrodite (Alexandra Tydings), and let’s not forget Joxer (Ted Raimi). He may be a clutzy warrior wannabe, but his heart was always in the right place. You gotta admire him for that.

This series was just as much of a favorite as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Like I said before, whoever thought that Greek Mythology would be so fun to learn?