Acknowledgments

We are grateful to colleagues who have encouraged our interest in mean women for years. We have benefited from the editorial comments of Ben Carton on the volume, not to mention his help formatting the final manuscript, as well as from conversations with Toni Calasanti. Rosemary Ellis also deserves thanks for her help preparing the final manuscript. Ian Carton, Mike Hudson, and Michael Rohd offered helpful feedback on our introduction. Finally, thanks goes to our contributors and to editor Jim...

Contents

1 What's a Mean Woman like You Doing in a Movie like This Neal King and Martha McCaughey 27 If Her Stunning Beauty Doesn't Bring You to Your Knees, Her Deadly Drop Kick Will Violent Women in the Hong Kong Kung Fu Film Wendy Arons 52 If Looks Could Kill Power, Revenge, and Stripper Movies Jeffrey A. Brown 78 The Gun and the Badge Hollywood and the Female Lawman Carol M. Dole 106 Caged Heat The (R)evolution of Women-in-Prison Films Suzanna Danuta Walters 124 Sharon Stone's (An)Aesthetic Susan...

Knockouts

Copyright 2001 by the University of Texas Press All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America First edition, 2001 Requests for permission to reproduce material from this work should be sent to Permissions, University of Texas Press, Box 7819, Austin, TX 78713-7819. The paper used in this book meets the minimum requirements of ansi niso z39.48-1992 (r1997) (Permanence of Paper). Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Reel knockouts violent women in the movies edited by...

Megan slams her father up against the wall telling him that hes under arrest manacles him forces him into her car and

In Blue Steel, Megan blows two men away an armed robber in a grocery store and a serial killer on the street. In both cases she's in uniform acting as a police officer. Several critics have noticed that the few female heroes of the large cop-action genre tend to uphold the law more carefully than men do, perhaps serving repressive, antifeminist purposes by doing so.36 Such women might be patsies, in other words, playing into a patriarchal system that hates all women.37 Camilla Griggers argues...

Notes

Yeoh has also been known and billed as Michelle Khan. The roster of Hong Kong actors is a notorious confusion of names, because many actors go by different names in different markets (or adopt a more marketable i.e., anglicized name when they become better known). In all cases, I give the name by which actors would be most familiar to a U.S. audience, and give alternatives in the notes where appropriate. 2. I draw this particular formulation from Elizabeth Bronfen, The Jew as Woman's Symptom...

Volume Layout

This book begins by giving violent female characters a generic history. The essays in part one, Genre Films, turn to film cycles in which violent women have routinely appeared martial arts films, film noir erotic thrillers, cop movies, and prison movies. Wendy Arons begins with Hong Kong martial arts movies, and shows how the popular cycles treat Asian women as sexual and violent at the same time, featuring characters who take for granted women's fighting skills, even as those women must...

Whats a Mean Woman like You Doing in a Movie like This

Officer Rita Rizolli stops a pimp from beating a prostitute. They scuffle he calls her a bitch, circles around her, and fires his weapon. Rita dodges, admires his agility (Nice move, asshole), and shoots him when he tries to fire again. As he bleeds his last she quips, and don't call me 'bitch.' In the middle of a robbery designed to bankroll their move from their dead-end lives, Cleo, Tisean, and Stony face down the local police with weapons drawn. An unwise bank guard shoots one, and the...

Catherine makes passionate love to a man tied by his wrists to his bedposts Just as they appear to climax together she

Analysts observe that many violent women on-screen look like runway models young, thin, large breasted, and bare skinned. Many feel that this pulls them from the realm of feminist activism and back into the uselessness of male fantasy. But must they be victims Does Catherine Tramell the sexy, rich, supersmart, fearless, enterprising woman in Basic Instinct really not prevail, just because similar female characters die in this and other movies 30 Maybe violent women fail even when they succeed....

Fant Asia Swordsman II The East Is Red and The Heroic Trio

The fantasy-action subgenre sets itself apart from other kung fu films by its extreme stylization and its use of special effects to evoke a world of supernatural powers, magical weapons, and mysterious, mystical forces and energies. The majority of these films occur in mythical rather than geographically real space, and thus lend themselves more readily to allegorical interpretations than more realistic kung fu films. Many of these films are remarkable in the way they redefine gender...

Themes of the Volume

Pam Grier Exotic

Kidnapped and raped by rednecks working for the local mobster, the title character of Foxy Brown must fight her way from mortal peril. She slaughters the bad guys with coat hangers to the eyes, a jug of gasoline over their heads, and a match. One of the dripping thugs can smell what's coming This is gasoline You know it, motherfucker says Foxy as she lights him up. As the men scream and thrash, Foxy makes her escape, heading off to do more damage, including a memorable castration, to the local...

Violent Women in the Hong Kong Kung Fu Film

The quote in the title of this chapter appears in the promotional blurb for the videotape of Wing Chun (1994), which stars one of Hong Kong's most popular actresses, Michelle Yeoh.1 Like virtually all recent kung fu films featuring female martial artists, Wing Chun presents its audience with a satisfying image of a powerful woman. The eponymous heroine is a skilled, aggressive, and effective fighter, who dispatches crowds of thugs with grace, style, and humor, and defends not only herself but...

Martha Coolidge director Rambling Rose Introducing Dorothy Dandridge I think women want to see women portrayed in a

Doesn't mean you can't have bad guys as women, but I kind of resent that the big breakthrough was, Hey, let's make the really bad guys women. That fulfills another male fantasy Woman as Monster.19 Mariel Hemingway, actor (Personal Best, Star 80) This is a business run by guys who have fantasies about women and who want women to be a certain way. My way of dealing with it is to not be a part of it.20 Annette Bening, actor (The Grifters, The Siege) What we need are more human roles.21 Women in...

Violent Beauties Wing Chun and Naked Killer

In this section I focus on two films that could not be more dissimilar Wing Chun and Naked Killer (1992). Both films feature women who move in a world of female potency and male impotency, but the resemblances end there. Where Wing Chun presents a positive image of a heroine attempting to understand, negotiate, and finally mitigate the threat that her martial artistry poses to the male community (without giving up or renouncing her power), Naked Killer depicts female eroticism and violence as a...

With Actresses Featured

Ah Kam, written by John Chan, directed by Ann Hui, featuring Michelle Yeoh 1996 . Angel2, written by Teresa Woo, directed by Teresa Woo and Raymond Leung, featuring Moon Lee and Elaine Lui 1988 . Blonde Fury, written by Sam Chi-Leung, directed by Mang Hoi, featuring Cynthia Rothrock 1987 . The Bride with White Hair, written by Ronnie Yu, directed by Ronnie Yu, featuring Brigitte Lin 1993 . Broken Oath, directed by Chang Cheung Wo, featuring Angela Mao 1977 . Butterfly and Sword, written by...