Girls with guns
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Girls with guns is a sub-genre of action films and animation — often Asian films and anime — that portray a strong female protagonist who makes use of firearms to defend against or attack a group of antagonists. The genre typically involves gun-play, stunts and martial arts action.
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The genre started in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Asia. Suzuki Seijun's 1958 film Underworld Beauty is an early example of a "girls with guns" film out of Japan. In 1966, Hong Kong actress Cheng Pei-pei starred in the Shaw Brothers Studio film Come Drink with Me, an early Chinese film of the genre. Rival Hong Kong studio, Golden Harvest Studios, had their own female fighter, Angela Mao who also helped popularize the trend in Asia.
In the early 1980s, two new actresses began to ascend in the Hong Kong action world: Michelle Yeoh and martial artist Cynthia Rothrock. They starred in the Corey Yuen directed film Yes Madam, (aka In the Line of Duty 2), which achieved commercial success. In the mid 1980s, many martial arts and action movies[which?] out of Japan and Hong Kong featured females either in leading or secondary roles that involved indulgent amounts of action and violence. Some well known actresses of this time period were Jade Leung, Yukari Oshima, Cynthia Khan and Joyce Godenzi.
The "girls with guns" genre has significant roots in Japan, where, since the 1950s, there have been numerous action and martial arts films[which?] featuring females as protagonists. Director Suzuki Seijun has been a champion of the genre, which, in Japan, has skewed heavily toward campy films. Some notable examples of Japanese "girls with guns" films over the decades include Suzuki's Underworld Beauty (1958), Hideo Tanaka's Sukeban Deka The Movie (1988), Suzuki's Pistol Opera (2001) and Kenta Fukasaku's Yo-Yo Girl Cop (2006).
The genre has also spread across Asia to countries such as Thailand, which has generated a slew of female-led action films, most notably starring Yanin "Jeeja" Vismitananda. South Korea has adopted the genre as well, but to a much lesser extent. It has manifested itself there in occasional and extremely mild forms. Films like Kang Je-gyu's 1999 work Shiri and Park Chan-wook's 2005 Sympathy for Lady Vengeance are examples of this.
The West embraced the "girls with guns" genre as early as the 1970s with exploitation features such as Foxy Brown. The genre continued to thrive in the 1980s with modest budgeted films like Ms. 45 (aka Angel of Vengeance). The 2003 Hollywood film, Kill Bill, was a nostalgic reminiscence of these early genre works.
In Europe, the French director Luc Besson has been a major proponent of "girls with guns", having produced two of the most popular films of the genre worldwide: Nikita (1990, aka La Femme Nikita) and Léon (1994, aka Léon: The Professional or, simply, The Professional). He also produced the 2011 "girls with guns" film Colombiana.
The 1991 animated show, Æon Flux, is an early example of "girls with guns" on television.
"Girls with guns" has continued to thrive in the 21st century, with movies like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Salt, Resident Evil, Underworld franchise, Total Recall (and somehow more in the remake) and numerous others.
Anime and manga
The "girls-with-guns" genre has also permeated the anime space. Some examples include Bubblegum Crisis, Gall Force, Dirty Pair, Gunsmith Cats, Angel Heart, Gunslinger Girl, Noir, Madlax, and El Cazador,. More recent examples of "girls with guns" anime are Masamune Shirow's and Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell and its television adaptation Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Yasuomi Umetsu's works Kite, Mezzo Forte, Mezzo DSA, and Kite: Liberator. The 2006 anime Black Lagoon contains examples of "girls with guns" sub-genres: "maids with guns" and "nuns with guns".
- Andy Sidaris
- Bad girl movies
- Bond girl
- Feminist film theory
- Femme fatale
- Gun fu
- Heroic bloodshed
- Hong Kong action cinema
- List of female action heroes
- Yukari Oshima
- Zero Woman
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