They sport buzz cuts, box like pros, and make sure that those who hurt them (or the ones they love) will pay. In the last few decades, we have seen the rise of action films featuring tough female leads. The role of damsel in distress no longer has much of an appeal. More women are proving that punching, kicking and shooting aren’t just for men.

Jessica Alba and Hailee Steinfeld in Barely Lethal Photo credit:

Jessica Alba and Hailee Steinfeld in Barely Lethal. Credit:

In the latest action comedy featuring a tough female lead, Barely Lethal, Megan Walsh (Hailee Steinfeld) is a teenage special ops agent who yearns for a normal adolescence. After faking her own death, she assumes the role of an exchange student and quickly learns that surviving the treacherous waters of a typical American high school can be even more difficult than international espionage.

Samuel L. Jackson in Barely Lethal Photo credit:

Samuel L. Jackson in Barely Lethal. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

This movie also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Alba, Sophie Turner, Dove Cameron, and Thomas Mann.

Even the trailer has me at the edge of my seat. I love an action packed movie with a tough female protagonist.

Training to be an assassin in Barely Lethal Photo credit:

Training to be an assassin in Barely Lethal. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

But Young Hailee Steinfeld does have some huge shoes to fill. Here are the top ten toughest women film characters of all time.

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games- Catching Fire Photo credit:

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games- Catching Fire. Credit:

1. Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games (Jennifer Lawrence)

She is a teenage girl who lives in District 12, an impoverished coal-mining region in the country of Panem. Katniss voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death. She is a tough survivor and yet is compassionate to those who need her help.

Trinity in The Matrix Photo credit:

Trinity in The Matrix. Credit:

2. Trinity from the Matrix (Carrie-Ann Moss)

Trinity first appears in the original Matrix film and she becomes Neo’s lover part-way through the trilogy. She is a computer hacker who has escaped from the Matrix, a sophisticated computer program in which most humans are imprisoned. She’s well-versed in martial arts, technology and dominated nearly every scene she was in.

Princess Leia in Star Wars Photo credit:

Princess Leia in Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi. Credit:

3. Princess Leia from the Return Of The Jedi (Carrie Fisher)

One of the most memorable scenes in the Star Wars Trilogy is when Princess Leia freed Han while disguised as the bounty hunter Boushh, but was herself captured. She became a slave girl but seizes the moment to kill Jabba by strangling him with the very chain that bound her. Then she goes on to help the Rebels defeat the Empire.

Sarah Connor in Terminator

Sarah Connor in Terminator. Credit:

4. Sarah Connor in The Terminator (Linda Hamilton)

Sarah is the mother of the Resistance, responsible for raising her son John Connor and teaching him in the ways of war. She is a hardened warrior and mother who sacrificed everything for the sake of her son’s future.

The Bride in Kill Bill Photo credit:

The Bride in Kill Bill. Credit:

5. The Bride in Kill Bill (Uma Thurman)

She is the main protagonist in the Kill Bill movie series. Once a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, known by her code-name Black Mamba, The Bride was romantically involved with Bill. She is one tough chick who metes out an unbelievable amount of violence, and she is able to take an incredible amount of punishment and keep moving.

Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road Photo credit:

Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. Credit:

6. Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road (Charlize Theron).

Furiosa sports a buzz cut with her forehead often smeared with tar in a fashion similar to War Boys. She is missing her left arm, but it is substituted by a mechanical arm consisting of various mechanical parts. She is war leader who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

Alice in Resident Evil Photo credit:

Alice in Resident Evil Photo credit:

7. Alice from Resident Evil (Milla Jovovich)

She guarded the entrance of The Hive alongside fellow operative Spence Parks. She planned to expose the corporation’s illegal experimentation with the T-Virus, when her partner stole the virus and caused an outbreak within the facility. This heroine kills zombies and saves the world from the deadly T-Virus.

Maggie in Million Dollar Baby Photo credit:

Maggie in Million Dollar Baby. Credit:

8. Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby (Hillary Swank)

Maggie is a waitress who wants a career in boxing. She works out tirelessly each day in Frankie’s gym, even after he tells her she’s too old to begin a boxing career at her age. She later sustains a crippling in-ring injury. She faces down her trailer trash family and manages to courageously face death on her own terms.

Cataleya in Columbiana Photo credit:

Cataleya in Columbiana. Credit:

9. Cataleya in Columbiana (Zoe Saldana)

When she was just nine, she witnessed the deaths of her parents in Bogotá. She was then raised by her uncle Emilio who raised her as an assassin. With her skills in close combat and marksmanship she sets out to avenge her parents.

Ellen Ripley in Aliens Photo credit:

Ellen Ripley in Aliens. Credit:

10. Ellen Ripley in the Alien film series (Sigourney Weaver)

An intergalactic badass who broke the gender stereotype of women in sci-fi movies. In the first Alien film, she’s the Warrant Officer aboard the commercial towing spaceship “Nostromo.” Her title placed her as the third highest ranking authority aboard the ship. By the end of the first film in the series she is the only surviving crew member. She successfully kills the alien that had hunted down the rest of her crew. She is my childhood hero and favourite tough woman.

Barely Lethal movie poster Photo credit:

Barely Lethal movie poster. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Can’t wait to see another tough woman join in these impressive ranks.