Top 10 Best Female Lead Action Movies of All Time

Best Female Action Movies List

Gone are the days when women are seen as the weaker sex. Women can do anything that a man can sometimes even better.

The same way women have entered the workforce in the 1940s, they’ve now also entered the formerly ‘strictly men only’ world of action movies.

Here are 10 of the best female action movies.

Top 10 Best Female Action Movies

10Haywire (2011)

best female action movies Haywire (2011)
Ewan McGregor and Gina Carano in Haywire (2011)

In Haywire (2011), we follow the story of government security contractor Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) who is betrayed and left for dead by a member of her agency. Determined to know who double-crossed her, she puts her black ops training to good use. However, things get more serious when she realizes that she’ll die if she can’t find her enemies.

One interesting trivia about the film is that Carano, who is a real-life mixed martial arts expert, did her own stunts during filming. Now that’s one badass woman.

9Kill Bill – Vol. 1 (2003) & Vol. 2 (2004)

best female action movies Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

Every hardcore Quentin Tarantino fan has watched Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2.

The two-part action film is the director ’s homage to the classic martial arts films he admires and which have greatly influenced his style as a director.

The film features a female lead and many other female fighters. Taking cues from Asian kung fu and wuxia films, its revenge-driven plot centers on Uma Thurman’s character The Bride, who’s on a mission to kill the titular Bill. But before she gets to the big boss, she must first face his team of assassins to avenge the death of her unborn baby.

8Yes, Madame! (1985)

best female action movies Yes, Madame! (1985)
Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock in Yes, Madame! (1985)

Trust us, you better just watch the film instead of reading about it. No writing can justify Yes, Madame! ‘bonkers bloodbath’.

The film stars a young Michelle Yeoh who plays an ace cop in Hong Kong teaming up with an American female fighter to crack down on a mysterious criminal syndicate.

Watch out for its action-packed opening scene where Yeoh literally busts a man’s balls with a book. You’re in for one crazy ride.

7The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

best female action movies The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson in The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

In The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), we see Geena Davis as a suburban housewife who has flashes of mysterious memories of violence. Eventually, she will discover surprising physical skills she never knew she had. Already see where this is going?

After hiring a private eye to dig up her past, she learns that she was a government assassin who went MIA due to suffering from amnesia. Her life is further turned around when her former employers want to avail her services again.

6Blue Steel (1989)

best female action movies Blue Steel (1990)
Jamie Lee Curtis in Blue Steel (1990)

Jamie Lee Curtis stars as a rookie cop in renowned action director Kathryn Bigelow’s Blue Steel (1989).

After spoiling a grocery store robbery where she also saved the life of a local businessman, she becomes the object of obsession of the aforementioned man who then starts killing people just to get her attention.

The film is notable for Bigelow’s delving into how gender roles and expectations affect a female cop’s career in a highly masculine career.

5The Assassin (2015)

best female action movies The Assassin (2015)
Qi Shu in The Assassin (2015)

The Assassin (2015) is a wuxia film by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien.

The film’s plot heavily derives from the 9th-century martial arts story Nie Yinniang written Pei Xing which is an influential text in the wuxia tradition.

Set during the reign of the Tang dynasty in mainland China, we see Nie Yinniang, a female assassin, whose main mission is to kill corrupt government officials by the orders of her master and trainer.

The real adventure begins when she is sent on a high stakes mission to kill a military general.

4Ms 45 (1981)

best female action movies Ms .45 (1981)
Zoë Lund in Ms .45 (1981)

Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned. And this film is proof of it.

When a mute seamstress is raped and assaulted twice in the span of a night, she grows suspicious and hostile towards the male sex leading to her killing off some of the predatory men in her life using a .45 caliber handgun she got from a burglar who raped her.

The film received positive reviews from critics but was only released straight to video in the US.

3Lady Snowblood (1973)

best female action movies of all time Lady Snowblood (1973)
Meiko Kaji in Lady Snowblood (1973)

Kill Bill owes much of its concept from this 1973 martial arts film directed by Toshiya Fujita.

Lady Snowblood (1973) tells the origin story of Yuki, a girl trained from childhood to be an assassin and eventually avenge the murder of her family. The Japanese film is in turn based on a manga of the same name.

Kill Bill got its nonlinear narrative from this film which presents Yuki’s story jumping from present to past and vice versa.

The film is followed by one sequel Love Song of Vengeance (1974) and inspired a remake The Princess Blade (2001).

2The Fifth Element (1997)

best female action movies The Fifth Element (1997)
Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element (1997)

Model turned actress Milla Jovovich stars in Luc Besson’s space opera The Fifth Element (1997).

Set in 23rd century New York, we see Bruce Willis play a taxi driver who encounters the fifth element personified in Milla Jovovich’s character, Leeloo. Together they must find the other four elements and unite them to prevent the destruction of the world at the hands of an evil industrialist played by Gary Oldman.

1Alien (1979)

best female action movies Alien (1979)
Sigourney Weaver in Alien (1979)

Of course, we can’t forget this badass film starring Sigourney Weaver as the headstrong Ripley.

The film’s plot takes place several centuries into the distant future and follows the story of a crew on a mining vessel who become hosts to some bloodthirsty aliens which kill them off in horrific manners.

Alien (1979) is a fresh take on the slasher movie genre that became popular in the 1970s mixing elements of both horror and sci-fi movies together. More importantly, the film presents a more progressive view of women who have traditionally taken supporting roles in earlier works of the science fiction genre.

Which of these female lead action movies haven’t you watched yet? Did your favorite ones make it onto our best movies list of female action movies of all time? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.