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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.

May 042011
 

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a fantasy quest film much like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Baron Manchausen (John Neville) is an 18th century aristocrat who goes on a series of adventures in an effort to save a town from the enemy Turks. According to the townspeople, some of his adventures were considered outrageous and fanciful lies. The Baron sets out to prove them wrong. The only one who believes in him is a little girl named Sally (Sarah Polley). So she goes along with the Baron in a hot air balloon to find his old missing allies in order to stop the Turks.

Before heading out, the Baron tells the story of his adventure with the Sultan of the Turks (Peter Jeffery) who plays opera music with an organ that doubles as a mini torture chamber. But that’s only the beginning of his adventures.

Baron and Sally’s first stop is the Moon to find Berthold (Eric Idle), a man with super speed. A giant King (Robin Williams) and Queen (Valentina Cortese) with detachable heads rule it. The King is a bit eccentric, which was why he keeps Baron and Sally prisoner with Berthold. The Queen helps them escape, but only her head arrives. Yet she reveals that she can still feel the King touching her body when her head is not attached. The best explanation Baron can give to Sally is that the King is tickling her feet. We soon find out that he really is tickling her feet. Who’d have thought?

After that, Baron, Sally, and Berthold arrive in the volcano of Mount Edna, where they meet underground workers in a smoking hot town. They also find Albrecht (Winston Dennis), a strong man who is another missing ally working as a manservant, as well as the goddess Venus (a young Uma Thurman).

The adventures keep getting weirder and weirder. Baron and his allies soon get thrown into a whirlpool, end up in the South Seas, and find a giant sea monster. Where’s Hercules when you need him? He’s good at fighting sea monsters from the inside.

Luckily, they find the final two missing allies, Adolphus (Charles McKeown), a man with super hearing, and Gustavus (Jack Pervis), a man with super breath, inside the sea monster. Soon they all escape and return to end the war with the Turks, but are they too late? “They’re perfectly safe,” according to the Baron.

In every place he stops, Baron always ends up wooing the ladies, which tends to remind him of the time he declined a marriage proposal by Catherine the Great.

I admit, I think this movie isn’t as good as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but I still find it humorous with good comedic adventure.

Jan 282011
 

In the fourth installment, Batman & Robin, the dynamic duo goes up against Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman). Chris O’Donnell returns as Robin with a different suit, but George Clooney is Batman this time around. Personally I thought Val Kilmer was the better Batman.

The action is a lot smoother. Batman and Robin have amazing jumping skills and Mr. Freeze’s freeze gun has a way cool effect. (Pun intended.) Arnold Schwarzenegger also makes it look so easy to manuver in that heavy armor. The role fits him perfectly.

Pamela Isley was a scientist before she drowned in toxins and chemicals that turned her into Poison Ivy. Now she is a temptress that can control plant life and kills people with her kisses. She’s not alone though. Helping Poison Ivy is Bane (Jeep Swenson). He is a very strong villain that’s all muscle and no brain, which is the right type bodyguard for a villainess.

The lovely Alicia Silverstone plays Barbara, Alfred’s (Michael Gough) niece, who becomes Batgirl. I looked forward to seeing her in this film after I enjoyed seeing her on Clueless. Here, I get to see her kicking Poison Ivy’s butt. Unfortunately, that’s the only time Batgirl fights anyone.

It seems like Bruce Wayne has a different girlfriend in each film. He’s like James Bond when it comes to commitment. This time he’s dating Julie Madison (Elle Macpherson). Now where did she come from? And what happened to Dr. Chase Meridian from the last Batman movie?

Even though this movie was considered a box office flop, I still really enjoyed it. The dynamic duo has become the dynamic trio. I could have seen another sequel coming from this, featuring more of Batman’s archenemies. Like Harley Quinn, perhaps? Now there’s an opponent for Batgirl.

Jul 232010
 

Welcome back. Kill Bill – Volume Two begins right where the first one left off. The Bride (Uma Thurman) is back and on her way to hunt down Bill’s (David Carradine) brother Budd (Michael Madsen), who is number 3 on her “Death List Five” as part of her quest for revenge. We didn’t get to see much of Budd earlier, but we do now.

Bill warns Budd about the Bride coming for him, but Budd isn’t worried at all. He even sold his samurai sword at a pawnshop. “You pawned a Hattori Hanzo sword?” Sounds a little silly, doesn’t it. If the Bride had overheard this conversation, she’d think that Budd would be an easy target to take out.

Budd works as a bouncer in a bar. Though he’s always late, he thinks it shouldn’t matter because no customers ever arrive that early in the day, which is understandable. Budd’s boss is hilarious when he gets mad at Budd for it. Was that Sid Haig as the bartender?

Later that evening, the Bride arrives at Budd’s trailer for a sneak attack. Unfortunately, Budd takes her down with one shot of rock salt to the gut. Not so easy after all, was he. I guess that proves that the gun is mightier than the sword, even a Hattori Hanzo samurai sword.

Then Budd buries the Bride alive. That wasn’t much of a battle. As the Bride works her way out of this peril, we go into another big flashback. Bill sends the Bride to train under Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), who is a very strict instructor. The training was brutal and hard to watch, but now we know where the Bride learned some of those extraordinary skills, which includes the instant eye gouging. Soon the Bride escapes by the skin of her teeth (or should I say hand), and heads for Budd’s place again.

Meanwhile, Elle (Darryl Hannah) is already there and she doublecrosses Budd by killing him with a black mamba snake and makes Budd suffer by reading info about that snake aloud to him. Some killers have no mercy.

After that, the Bride arrives and fights with Elle. How convenient, since she was number 4 on the “Death List Five”. This battle also gets interesting as new secrets are revealed. The Bride’s name is finally revealed to be Beatrix Kiddo and the story behind Elle’s eye patch is not a pretty one. The catfight ends with Elle losing her other eye. I can still remember how everyone in the theater reacted when Beatrix stepped on that eye and crushed it. Ewe! Elle is defeated, but is she really dead like the other three?

Beatrix may have lost her list earlier, but she doesn’t need it anymore because there’s only one target left, Bill. She soon finds Bill along with another little surprise, and a very likable one at that. This final confrontation drags a little bit, but I liked Bill’s philosophy on Superman compared to other superheroes.

Overall, this two-volume movie was very creative. Action, humor, strong gorgeous women, it’s got it all, which makes this film a masterpiece.

Jul 212010
 

Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed Kill Bill. This amazing two-volume adventure story was inspired by old martial arts movies. Uma Thurman stars as a former assassin simply named the Bride. Oddly, whenever anyone mentions her real name, it’s bleeped. That makes no sense.

As the story goes in Kill Bill – Volume One, the Bride was about to be married. Then suddenly four other assassins crash it and shoot everyone. The Bride wakes up from a coma four years later and hunts them all down one by one before heading for her former boss and lover, Bill (David Carradine).

This film is featured in chapters, but many of the basic points of the story line are out of order. For instance, at the beginning, the Bride seeks out Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and defeats her. After that, the Bride marks Vernita off of her “Death List Five” for she was number 2. Then the rest of the movie goes into a flashback.

Number 1 on the list was O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), but the Bride has to wake up first. Little did she know that Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah), who is number 4 on the list, tried to kill the Bride by herself, but Bill stopped her just in time. It was hilarious how Elle reacted angrily. You’ve also got to admit that Elle looks hot in that nurse outfit. Oh, yeah.

It takes awhile, but after a very violent animated sequence (I think it’s Anime), the Bride was able to recover. Now it’s off to Japan to find O-Ren. However, she’s not so easy to get to because she is a top underworld boss in Tokyo, but was the easiest on the list to find because of her reputation as a top underworld boss in Tokyo.

Soon the Bride arrives at O-Ren’s place. It seems peaceful at first because the joint is jumping as an all-girl band called the 5,6,7,8s is performing. Those lovely ladies can rock and their skimpy outfits are hot too.

Then it becomes exciting as the Bride fights her way through O-Ren’s army called the Crazy 88. However, the battle is brutal because the Bride’s new samurai sword, made by Bill’s old sensei Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba), easily chops off many body parts. In a way, I can see this like a video game. After a group of enemies there’s a mini boss, who is O-Ren’s personal bodyguard, Gogo Yaburi (Chiaki Kuriyama). She’s very pretty, but deadly with that spiked ball and chain.

After Gogo is defeated by a board with a nail in it, more enemies come along. As exciting as this was, this battle is turning into a major gorefest. Yuck! Then it all comes down to the final confrontation between the Bride and O-Ren. It was a good sword battle, but I was expecting more of a catfight.

The first volume stops here as the Bride goes to look for number 3 on the “Death List Five”, Bill’s brother Budd (Michael Madsen). And just when this film was getting good, but not to worry. Check my blog for part 2 when I’ll be talking about volume 2.