The most known pseudo historical tales in cinema are: ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966), RED SONJA (1985), AMAZONS (1974), LE GLADIATRICI (1963), GOR (1988), DEATHSTALKER (1984), BARBARIAN QUEEN-2 (1989), GWENDOLINE (1984). Film PHOENIX THE WARRIOR (1987)is one of the brightest examples of "futuristic post-nuclear action film" - the number of women's fights in it would be enough for sharing with ten other movies. There are quite many movies of these types - from stylish CYBORG, 1989) with Jean-Claude Van Damme to worthless ROLLER BLADE (1986).
Perhaps, women in the popular genre of "tales for adults" (Fantasy) are the most belligerent fighters. This genre gives a lot of freedom for scenario writers and film directors because this is an invented world and they shouldn't care too much about plausibility. Under these circumstances, authors are let loose on scenes with women's fighting - both in terms of social aspect (ignoring the taboo "women do not fight") and physical one (a subtle heroine easily knocks a big guy off his feet even though they fight with heavy weapon). A fairy tale is a fairy tale! Polish "Fantasy" author Andrzej Sapkowski writes about his genre and fighting women in it: "So-called 'The Fierce' desires to get to a book cover by >Boris Vallejo, , he wants to watch semi-naked asses and boobs which are about rolling out of armored bras. The Fierce doesn't care about common sense in the fantasy because the common sense just screams that nobody would go to battle in open-work armors - not only it's dangerous to fight in such attire, it's even impossible to squeeze their way through nettle brushwood which covers Dark Woods and Gray Mountains. Just one thing can be done with a bare ass and it's neither 'heroic' nor 'fantasy'." This was said regarding literature, in cinema things go differently, for instance the sword battle between Red Sonja (Brigitte Nielsen) and Kalidor (Arnold Schwarzenegger) ) looks not too weird... even though the muscle mass advantage of the future California governor looks impressive. There is no mismatch in Sonja's another fight though - against villain Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman). Bergman had played a much better warrior in CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) with Schwarzenegger. By the way, if you watch carefully the fight between Sonja and Kalidor, you could notice a male dubbing actor replacing Nielsen in some episodes.
In fact, a character of a perfectly built lady with big "convexities" seems to be the most favorite character in the Vallejo-style genre. Example: PHANTOM EMPIRE (1986), where Sybil Danning plays a very big-breasted queen warrior of a fantasy empire. There is another illustration in point - an invented warrioress a la Vallejo - Xena from the serial XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (1995-...) (Lucy Lawless) being sick of the whole business. In fact, there are also a lot of real female fighters in the genre and the "results" of their fights are very different too. In another TV serial NEMESIS-2 (1995), Sue Price, bodybuilder stars as a genetically engineered human and battles a time-traveling muscle bound male android. And Kathy Long kills 50 men in one fight scene in the sci-fi movie KNIGHTS (1993).
All the discussed genres are quite different but they have a lot in common due to the fact they represent pure imaginations of their authors. In fact, an imaginary world can be made-up past (The Amazons, Red Sonja, Barbarian Queen, Deathstalker), made-up future (Cyborg, Phoenix the Warrior), made-up present (for instance, GWENDOLINE by Just Jaeckin, the creator of the first "Emmanuelle" is running in a enigmatic underground Amazon country in Africa -- an adventure tales, king of Jules Verne for adults) or it can happen on the other planet (for example, Gor and Gor-2 cinematized of novels by John Norman). Besides, "urban fantasies" can be added to these genres. In the serial BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1997)), the heroine fights a lot (including fights against female vampires) and it occurs in a contemporary real life (hidden from us) and (we hope) a made-up part of it.
This is what a famous combative woman and fighting enthusiast thinks about such fantasies in movies. Barbara the Doctor*: "Well, of course, the wild woman of male fantasies is NOT completely wild. In most fantasies, she is under the spell or even the power of a man. Somewhere, somehow, at some level, there is often a man involved and he is the both the prize and the tempering influence. It's tougher to see in drawn art but it's clear as crystal in various movies which is the moving image of down the barroom fighters with a pail of water while caveman after caveman pulls the combatants apart by the hair and James Bond brings peace to the two gypsies who only minutes before were fighting to the death over the Chief's son FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963)... The wild woman fantasy is a fantasy about men and male power and the ability to effect the sating of a sexual need through the application of that power or to stop it when the man wants it stopped. Men in control... that's the power!" In fact, something similar might be said about men's fighting...
Thinking over fantasies about a women's fight incarnated in movies, Barbara states that women (like men) might fight each other for very different reasons, particularly "for the fun of it".
There is a myth about women that seeps into the preconceptions about female combat: that women are basically rivals and, in front of men, that rivalry and hatred flows. It's absurd of course but it's still very real in the minds of many men and in the fulcrum of male culture. That's what movie catfights are often about -- women finally getting the opportunity to do what they would like to do to other women: rip them apart. My hunch is that, admit it or not, the "fight over a man" fantasy is prevalent among male movie-goers while, for women, it's probably more "the bitchy villainess gets hers". Well... I'm just hunching.
In fact, fantasies about female combat are not the male prerogative, some feminists dream about "all-sufficient" strong women. There is a special feminism branch - Amazon feminism. This is its definition: "Amazon Feminism is dedicated to the image of the female hero in fiction and in fact, as it is expressed in art and literature, in the physiques and feats of female athletes, and in sexual values and practices. Amazon feminism rejects the idea that certain characteristics or interests are inherently masculine (or feminine), and upholds and explores a vision of heroic womanhood. Thus, Amazon feminism advocates female strength of athletes, martial artists, soldiers, etc."
However, due to the lack of real female herculeses, the feminists often refer to characters of the sex appealing Amazons - heroines of "Xena-like fictions, whose attire and makeup are good for an activity, which is definitely not combat (as Sapkowski rightly noted). Says the young feminism scholar Melissa Meister: "The character of Xena is a woman without male signifiers... The television show XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS) comes off in an extraordinary feminist light. One wants to question how such a show was even allowed into television programming, because a deep examination of its inner workings provides society with some very incredible, novel, and spectacular ways of portraying women."
THE AMAZONS (1973) is one of few films in which women's fighting is an organic part of the plot - to be sure! Fighting is the primary activity of these female warriors. English director Terence Young (earlier directing Bond movies containing the Gypsy fight) had his heroines wrestling - no weapon, no hits - purely "Olympic wrestling". Barbara considers this match to be the best in the cinematograph. In fact, this fight well illustrates hidden mainsprings (buttons) of male fantasies about women's fighting.
Young plays the scene in high form: it is a pure wrestling match, none of the spitting anger and hair pulling hatred of the gypsy fight. These are, after all, warriors and they vie with strength and wrestling skill. The need for choreography of any movie fight restricts the abandon and "reality" of an on-screen wrestling match and this one is actually no exception. The fight itself is better than that "dance" in "From Russia with Love" but it's not all that great. But Young wasn't dealing with athleticism here -- he was dealing with eroticism and fantasy. And he hits all the "buttons"!
From her throne, the current Queen (sitting impassively) gives the order: "Apply the ceremonial oil." So, we have the element of oil wrestling (probably the most sensual of those "night club" wrestling forms - button one). Actresses Sabine Sun (brunette) and Alena Johnston (the blonde) are carefully covered in the stuff after stripping their loose-fitting robes (the strip down -- button two). In the version circulated briefly in USA, they wear skimpy tops and bottoms. But in the European/Japanese version, no such silly discretion was required and they are bare breasted. Button three!!! Then the Queen says: "Let the final contest begin" and the gals go at it.
The two young women strive with tests of strength, mashing breasts several times (button four...or maybe button four AND five... . A couple of reverse headlocks, a back choke hold, an almost nailed but reversed scissors with those lovely legs and bare feet flying ( button six ) and, finally, a stretch pin with NO leg involvement -- almost impossible to do in real life but necessary to allow those bodies to move in belly grinding stress ( button seven). All this is performed over a soundtrack of drums and barely audible comments and cries of encouragement from the observers (crowd of women -- button eight.)
When it ends and everyone greets the winner (Johnson -- Blondes always have more fun, don't they?) as Queen, La Sun is helped to her feet and, when consoled by a "second" she says. "If you think I'm going to wait four more years, you're crazy." Sore loser!!! LOL It's actually a set up for another fight between them at the end, which is nude and very sexual (buttons and buttons and buttons).
Of course, this is fantasy for the male and that is laudable -- doing a good fantasy on film is never easy and Young does it quite well here. But the woman in me is grateful that this British master of the action movie got the opportunity to move from the predictable sexism of Bond's gypsy hellcats to this more respectful scenario of non-injurious competition between skilled female fighters and that, during his career, he took that opportunity.
Actually, in a fit of temper Barbara a little exaggerated the "combative values" of this scene. Actually, neither challenger has the constitution of an athlete or a fighter; nether one demonstrates more or less real wrestling skills.
While the fight in "The Amazons" drives much of the ensuing plot, another great female fight in movies noted by Barbara has nothing to do with the plot (which is okay since there's not much of a plot). A movie that truly sucks produces one of the real and most erotic female wrestling matches in cinematic history. The fight in THE SEVEN MAGNIFICENT GLADIATORS (1983) is not a catfight or a brawl. This is wrestling and the context of the scene so radically counters another great scene of "The Amazons" that it's worth exploring to sort of close the circle on the "savage woman" genre. The differences between the two film fights are fundamental...
We are in the throne room of an Emperor who, for his pleasure, pits two slave women in a death duel. But not only does this duel not involve weapons; it doesn't really involve hands at all. The two lovelies, and they are both gorgeous young women, are tied together at the wrists. From the very start of the battle, you could see that the girls are in excellent shape and athletic but at the beginning the scene is perceived skeptically because the potential of a decent battle between two women is seldom realized, if even perceived, by the directors of these films. Instead, the scepsis quickly changes into amazement.
We get a real wrestling match -- or at least one that has enough elements of reality to "work" the fight compellingly. The fighters are obviously striving, they go to the floor and battle for top position and, in fact, they use several fairly dangerous techniques -- a flying mare, a leg-lift and throw-over (splash!!!), a semi-scissors roll over, a "grapevine" (fully nailed, by the way) and several reverse headlocks.
Of course, it was too much to hope that they would improve production values for this scene. The camera work is clumsy: time and again, it zeroes in on body parts at the expense of showing a really good, full body action shot. BUT... The action is brisk. The movement is fluid. The arm and leg muscles strain. I mean, they get it on, these two.
What is remarkable, given the actual work put into this scene, is its overwhelming eroticism. This is a feast for the breast fan - they make clear that these body bumps are breast bangs. In fact, at one point, the blonde stands on tip-toes to mash breasts with her opponent! In fact, the match is won with a breast smother.
Adding to the fantasy element, and differentiating it again from Amazons, is the attitude of the women. They hate each other's guts and it's unclear why. What happened here? Did one of them steal the other's mascara? They are two slaves fighting because they are ordered to but their interaction bespeaks a rivalry and a hatred. THAT, I think, is the crux of the matter.
As far as milestones in these genres are concerned, the wonderful fight between Raquel Welch and Martine Beswick в ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966), which became the source of imitations in scenes with wild women fighting. The prehistoric women deadly fight for being next to a strong man. Actually, the winner (Welsh) refuses to finish off the loser. At the same time, another deadly fight occurs at the next meadow - tyrannosaur and triceratops. By this, the authors emphasize the atmosphere of cruel Darwin's natural selection. The scene became classical (partly due to the appearance of the women in fur bikini), even though it is too beautiful for a real fight. Another sample film with a female fight (not just one) is THE MUMMY RETURNS (2001). Multi-ply confusing plot with reincarnations between Ancient Egypt and the Modern times. As far as combat is concerned, two scenes have to be mentioned. When Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) is first seen brushing off a wall (of the Time), the figures on the wall behind her are of two females fighting with sais. This is a depiction of her as Nefertiri fighting priestess Anck Su Namun (Patricia Velazquez) in front of the Pharaoh. By the way, Rachel Weisz's character Nefertiri was originally called Nefertiti but the producers felt that ignorant people would make "boob" jokes about the name so it was changed to that of another Egyptian queen. In our times, the reincarnated opponents (recalling who they were) fight again for real. This fight is not so spectacular and ends with an ordinary right hook on jaw. As far as the classics is concerned, in semi-comedian screen version of Three Musketeers (THE FOUR MUSKETEERS, 1974) the fight between Milady (Faye Dunaway) is well staged. Unlike the customary version of this episode (in which Milady just stabs Constance to death like a sheep), the ladies nevertheless fight here and Dunaway manages to take a hairslide from her haircut and use it as a weapon. However, unlike the original version, the lethal outcome has been avoided.
Characters of combative women are gladly used in long multi serial TV shows. Besides the mentioned Xena, RELIC HUNTER (1997-2002) with Tia Carrere, who plays kind of female version of Индианы Джонса. . She fights almost in each show (against women probably in one out of four). Isn't it nice to know that a beautiful young woman, what is more a martial artist, can visit you each week in the comfort of your living room?
As far as prominent and famous actresses are concerned, who acted in combative scenes, we can recall (besides the mentioned ones): Angelina Jolie (female android) in CYBORG-2, Brigitte Nielsen - superwoman from another planet in GALAXIS (1995), Rebecca Ferranti - female warrior in GOR, Anne Parillaud - vampire in INNOCENT BLOOD (1992), )Talisa Soto in VAMPIRELLA (1996) - alien vampire fighting another vampire Roger Daltry and many other thugs, dispatching humans very easily.
Some actresses gained popularity in movies thanks to acting in them as fighters. Michelle Rodriguez having become famous in GIRLFIGHT (2000) by Karyn Kusama, also played in the recent vampire thriller BLOODRAYNE (2005) by Uwe Boll, in which she fights twice (with swords and under water) against Kristanna Loken. The later specializes in characters of warrioresses. Besides BloodRayne, she played the Queen Brunnhild in miniserial RING OF THE NIBELUNGS (2004) where she swung with sword from the heart. She was also the mechanical opponent of Schwarzenegger в "Терминаторе-3" (TERMINATOR-3, 2003). ). In fantastic action movie TOTAL RECALL (1990) by Paul Verhoeven famous Sharon Stone peppers Schwarzenegger and then fights with Rachel Ticotin - the characters are bright and the fight is very spectacular. Oscar winner Charlize Theron plays a tough superwoman from a resistance movement in "AEON FLUX (2005). She fights quite well.