Check out this list of the most thrilling female-led action movies ever made, ranked from most awesome to not-so-awesome based on user opinions. These films showcase badass women in all kinds of action-packed situations. Some feature skilled fighters who can take down anyone in their path, while others show ordinary women fighting for their lives as the main characters. And guess what? Some of these movies even have sequels!
One standout film on this list is “Aliens,” where Sigourney Weaver plays the amazing Officer Ripley. Released in 1979 and directed by Ridley Scott, it follows Ripley as she encounters a terrifying extraterrestrial while in space. Another fantastic action flick is “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” starring Linda Hamilton as the fearless Sarah Conner.
The dynamic duo Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez also join the party with their Grindhouse films “Death Proof” and “Planet Terror.” Both movies are known for their jaw-dropping female-driven action sequences. And let’s not forget about other kick-ass feminist action films like “Hanna,” “Aeon Flux,” and “Wonder Woman.”
Which movie do you think deserves the top spot on this list? Share your favorites and be sure to suggest any other awesome films we may have missed.
If you’re into this genre, you might also want to check out our list of the most thrilling female assassin movies. It’s a real blast!
Prey, a surprising movie from the past few decades, is actually a prequel to the beloved Predator series. Set in 1719, it tells the story of Naru, a skilled hunter who finds herself up against the apex predator of the galaxy. Armed with just bows, arrows, and knives, taking down such a formidable creature seems impossible. However, thanks to the remarkable and impressively realistic performance by breakout star Amber Midthunder, every scene in the film feels authentic and flawlessly executed. Despite being set in ancient times, the film maintains the violence and thrilling action of its predecessors, while adding a more bone-crunching realism that truly leaves an impact.
Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Actors: Amber Midthunder, Dane DiLiegro, Michelle Thrush
2. Everything Everywhere All at Once
Everything Everywhere All at Once is a science fiction action adventure comedy-drama that truly has it all. It effortlessly combines various genres and tones to deliver a captivating story. However, what truly sets this film apart is its remarkable action sequences. Even at the age of 60, Michelle Yeoh proves that she can outshine the younger action stars with her exceptional skills and unwavering commitment to her craft.
The fight scenes in this movie are beyond description. They are filled with wacky and surreal moments that will leave a lasting impression on fans. It’s safe to say that Everything Everywhere All at Once is undeniably one of the greatest female action movies ever made.
Directed by: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Actors: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan
3. The Woman King
Released in 2022, The Woman King stands out among the films of the past two decades as a historical epic action that truly satisfies the craving for thrilling adventure. Set in the African kingdom of Dahomey, the film follows a group of fierce female warriors who are determined to protect their land. The stellar performances of Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, and Sheila Atim bring these remarkable warriors to life on the screen.
The film showcases breathtaking action sequences, featuring some of the most impressive hand-to-hand combat seen in years. These thrilling moments captivate the audience, leaving them in awe of the ferocity and fearlessness displayed by these incredible characters.
The Woman King delves into the power of women and the impact they have on the action genre. It highlights how action movies featuring strong female leads are bringing about a significant change in the genre. Through its compelling narrative and dynamic performances, the film explores the importance of women’s representation in action films and the transformative effect it has on storytelling.
Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Actors: Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch
4. Alien Franchise
Sigourney Weaver is widely considered the ultimate female action star, largely due to her groundbreaking portrayal of Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise. Ripley’s transformation from a humble scientist into an extraordinary superhero was a game-changer in the industry. Weaver brought a sense of authenticity and relatability to the character, portraying a woman who faced genuine fear for her life, yet found the strength to rise above it and save humanity.
Throughout the series, Ripley confronts some of the most terrifying creatures ever conceived for the silver screen. Remarkably, she never wavers in the face of these horrors, tackling challenges that would reduce even the strongest men to tears. Ripley truly stands as the ultimate female action hero, leaving an indelible mark on the genre.
Released: 1979 – Present
Directed by: Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher
Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright Harry Dean Stanton
5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Linda Hamilton’s portrayal of Sarah Connor underwent a remarkable transformation between the first and second Terminator films. Initially, she depicted a vulnerable and timid every-woman. However, in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, she emerged as an awe-inspiring and formidable female action movie star. This evolution felt completely organic and aligned perfectly with the story being told. Sarah had endured immense hardships, and now, in her mission to safeguard her son, she became unstoppable. In a similar vein to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in the 80s, Hamilton’s portrayal forever altered the landscape of female action roles.
Directed by: James Cameron
Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong
6. Kill Bill Saga
There are few films out there that really capture the essence of their main character quite like Kill Bill does. Uma Thurman absolutely nailed it as Beatrix Kiddo, bringing her to life with a perfect blend of controlled chaos, elegant poise, and overwhelming power. It’s safe to say that Kill Bill is one of the most mind-blowing and awe-inspiring action sagas ever created.
Clocking in at over four hours, this movie is a non-stop rollercoaster of bloodshed and mayhem. It pushes boundaries, almost to the point of being ridiculous, but somehow manages to stay grounded thanks to Thurman’s incredible performance. She adds a touch of realism to even the most absurd moments, making us believe in the world of Kill Bill.
One particular scene that stands out is the epic battle against the Crazy 88’s. Not only is it one of the greatest action sequences in any female-led movie, but it’s also regarded as one of the best action scenes of all time. It’s intense, it’s fierce, and it’s a testament to the sheer brilliance of Kill Bill.
If you’re in the mood for a thrilling and unforgettable cinematic experience, Kill Bill is the movie for you. It’s an extraordinary blend of fierce action, captivating storytelling, and a truly remarkable performance by Uma Thurman. Get ready to be blown away by this masterpiece.
Released: 2003, 2004
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Actors: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, David Carradine
7. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a captivating story that explores themes of love, anger, violence, and betrayal. The film is known for its exceptional action sequences that are truly original and impressive. Michelle Yeho and Ziyi Zhang deliver outstanding performances, stealing the spotlight in every scene they appear in. Their breathtaking stunts and graceful presence add a unique touch to the film. It serves as a prime example of how to showcase female action stars at their absolute best. The film’s brilliance doesn’t solely rely on being a female-centric action film; it shines because of the brilliance of its female action stars.
Directed by: Ang Lee
Actors: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi
8. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman made a lasting impact on the film industry in 2017 by introducing a strong female lead who became an inspiration for women everywhere. Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman showcased a character who worked hard for her achievements and did not rely on handouts. This solidified Wonder Woman as a more significant figure than ever before. In the film, Wonder Woman fought with unparalleled strength, determination, and resilience, embodying a true sense of heroism. She stood out as a genuine hero that the world, both on screen and in real life, truly needed.
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Actors: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright
9. The Fifth Element
The Fifth Element is an incredible science fiction action adventure that has captivated audiences for years. While Bruce Willis may be the star, it’s Milla Jovovich who truly shines as the unforgettable character Leeloo. With her powerful portrayal, Jovovich has become a role model for countless female action stars over the past few decades. She once again proves why she is considered one of the greatest female action movie stars of all time, delivering a performance that is both intense and physically demanding. Her dedication is so impressive that even the toughest viewers will wince in pain. It’s no wonder that The Fifth Element remains a beloved cult classic, serving as a blueprint for portraying female action stars in the most effective way possible.
Directed by: Luc Besson
Actors: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm
10. Resident Evil Franchise
Mila Jovovich has truly been a shining star in the Resident Evil franchise for the past two decades. With her previous success in The Fifth Element, Jovovich proved herself to be a legitimate action movie star. However, it was with Resident Evil that she truly skyrocketed to fame in the genre.
Considered by many as one of the greatest female action stars ever, Jovovich consistently displayed her impressive hand-to-hand combat skills, incredible athleticism, and expert gunplay throughout the six films in the series. Her portrayal of Alice, the lead character in the adaptation of the popular action horror video game series, captivated audiences and made her a sensation.
Released: 2002 – Present
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson, Russell Mulcahy, Alexander Witt
Actors: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory
11. Underworld Franchise
In just 13 years, Kate Beckinsale emerged as a unique female action hero, unlike anything the world had seen before. Despite being clad in tight leather, she fearlessly pursued Lycans and defended the world from those seeking its destruction. The Underworld franchise skillfully combined thrilling gunfights and impressive action sequences with elements of horror, resulting in a delightfully terrifying experience. Without a doubt, Beckinsale was the driving force behind this franchise, transforming it into one of the most captivating and extraordinary action horror franchises ever created.
Released: 2003 – Present
Directed by: Len Wiseman, Patrick Tatopoulos, Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein, Anna Foerster
Actors: Kate Beckinsale, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen