Aah the 1980’s, it was a gloriously golden time for action and horror movies, in fact that decidedly delectable decade was most definitely THE trend setter for these two particularly popular filmic categories. Iconic is undeniably an over used term, but it’s a phrase that encapsulates 80’s genre films perfectly. Movie stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Jean Claude Van-Damme (and countless, countless more) are paramount as archetypes of their day, exemplars that have been copied and trended throughout the decades since their first paradigmatic entries onto the silver screen and into fervent fandom.
That said, and as much as I am a fan of these burly, brawly action paladins, I have, from as far back as I can remember always, always preferred kick-arse female fighters, not just in movies but also in my other cherished media of comic-books and video-games. As a young lad growing up in the eighties I was inducted into the formidable fold of fantastic fearsome fighting female furies (phew!) by the meritorious, marvellous and magnificent Moon Lee, though I had encountered other female martial arts stars in various films previous to my encounter with Moon, they were usually cast as second tier characters in film, back up to the male lead… Moon Lee for me was a revelation, a gifted actress with phenomenal martial skill, and, the most predominantly prominent point… the lead in virtually every movie she ever starred in!
Moon Lee Choi-Fung was born in Hong Kong in 1965, though from an early age she spent many years living in Taiwan with her father who ran a business out of the southern port city of Kaohsiung. During her six year stay in Taiwan, Moon attended Youchang grammar school, where she discovered an inherent aptitude for piano and dance proficiency. After moving back to her homeland of Hong Kong to attend middle school, Moon was approached by television director Hsiao Hsianhui after he saw her in a school dance performance.
Hsianhui was so mesmerised by Moon’s remarkable athleticism and dancing talent that he cast her in a small role in his television series Fatherland. From this humble introduction into acting, and thanks to her incredible physical abilities, Moon went on to become Hong Kong’s action movie queen. At a mere eighteen years old, Moon signed contracts with Asia television, and most importantly martial arts movie production giant – Golden Harvest. It was whilst filming a commercial for Mitsubishi that she adopted the first name of Moon, when the directors of the advert asked her to pick a western sounding name for foreign audiences.
After cutting her acting teeth in television with an appearance in an astonishing four hundred episodes over many different series, Moon went on to become the most sought after female action movie star in Hong Kong history thanks to her first major role in the classic period Kung Fu movie Zu Warriors From The Magic Mountain, where she starred alongside such martial legends as Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, and Corey Yuen.
Moon throughout the eighties and early nineties starred in close to an incredible fifty action movies, with co-stars that included the aforementioned Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and the great Jackie Chan. But it was in Japanese martial arts actress Yukari Oshima (also known as Cynthia Luster – soon to be another inductee into this ongoing series) that Moon finally found her forever co-star with whom she starred in many, many movies over the years as both antagonists and protagonists. The dynamic duelling duo had an onscreen cohesion and physical synergy that was unsurpassed in the field, and held female fighting film fans worldwide spellbound, in fact Moon and Yukari were almost single-handedly responsible for the burgeoning Girls with Guns sub genre, which became an action movie staple throughout almost their entire acting careers.
In the latter part of the nineties Moon gradually left the movie business and moved back to her first love of dance and the arts, and eventually opened a school dedicated to nurturing talented dancers, with many of her students winning excellence awards for their abilities in the field.
Moon Lee Movie Recommendations: Kickboxer’s Tears, Fighting Madam 1 and 2, Angel Enforcers, Angel Force and Zu Warriors.
Mmmmm, we haven’t dared to tread the perilous path of the infamous Top 10 list so far here in the darkest depths of Precinct1313, never really gave the idea of doing one much thought to be honest. That is until recently, when blogging buddy ‘The Vintage Toy Advertiser’ rendered his very own (and really rather amusing) Top 10 masterclass (which you can indulge your senses in right here) that we thought, suffering sappho, let’s do one of them there list things then, and thus…
Precinct1313’s Ten Favourite Furiously Fierce Femme’s Fatale
NB: This list will contain both fictional and non-fictional wildly wondrous warrior women for your delectation…
No.10 – Big Barda
No list of vivacious virago vixens should ever be without the formidable presence of fighting fury and thorn in Granny Goodness’ side – Big Barda, for she truly encompasses everything to love about powerful, vibrant female characters who are easily able to match and (in most cases for Barda especially) surpass their male counterparts. How tough is Barda? we’ll let the picture below answer that query…
No.09 – Lara Croft
Quintessentially British acrobatic archaeologist Lara Croft has been raiding tombs, securing ancient artefacts and performing perilous platforming since she was first unleashed unto the gaming world by Core Design in 1996. Since that time she has become one of the most recognisable video-game characters of all time and sits proudly in the upper echelons alongside Master Chief, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog.
No.08 – Moon Lee
I’m an 80’s kid, I grew up during that phenomenal decade alongside many classic onscreen action stars and martial artists, even as a youngster my preference was always female characters/fighters and one of the biggest influences for me then was the magnificent Moon Lee. Hong Kong action star supreme, Moon Lee Choi-Fung starred in close to a formidable fifty films during her heyday of the 1980’s!
No. 07 – Batwoman
Kate Kane’s Batwoman alter ego first debuted in the 1956 issue of Detective Comics #233 created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff. Initially created as a female counterpart and love interest to the Batman, Kate has over the past sixty years (thankfully) shed that unfortunate creation calamity and has now become one of the biggest and most beloved of female comic book characters, with a much needed revamp and resurgence through the hand of artist/writer JH Williams III. Reversing the inauspicious and unenlightened conception and delivering a new standard for empowerment in the burgeoning female Superhero market.
No. 06 – Catwoman
Though most Bat-fans see The Joker as Batsy’s biggest foe, for me personally the character that inhabited that perch was always anti-hero cat burglar Selina Kyle. Though Mr J is without a doubt the bigger threat to the dark and surly one’s psyche, Selina holds something over Bats that the jester of genocide never, ever could… his heart. She has been Batman’s most enduring love interest since her inception in Batman #1 in June of 1940… puuuurfect!
No. 05 – Cynthia Rothrock
As previously mentioned some of the biggest influences on me growing up were the plethora of fantastic fighting females that occupied the realms of martial arts cinema, and my most beloved and admired is none other than scintillating Cynthia Rothrock. American born Cynthia is quite possibly the most successful female martial arts master in history – she is five times world champion in weapons and forms and currently holds an astonishing seven black belts in varying martial disciplines! She has also starred in over fifty movies throughout her career, and has acted alongside greats such as Sammo Hung and Michelle Yeoh.
No. 04 – Batgirl
Though the Batgirl name and costume have been inhabited by several different women over the years, the most beloved and well known is assuredly the second holder of the bombastic bat mantle – Barbara (Babs) Gordon. Replacing original holder of the title – Bette Kane (who was created in 1961) Babs debut was in 1967, daughter of Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon and head of Gotham City Library. Her auspicious crime fighting career began with a triumphant save of Bruce Wayne from a kidnapping plot wrought by SuperVillain Killer Moth, and cemented her place in Bat history!
No. 03 – Elvira – Mistress Of The Dark
Elvira may not be a martial arts action star or female fighting force but what she definitely is, is a sensation of female empowerment and positive attitude. A strong, outspoken comedienne who used her innate sexual prowess to turn the tables on mysogynynistic and prejudice laden media from her first appearance courtesy of actress Cassandra Peterson in 1981. Self deprecating and dripping in risque double-entendres, her campy humour has propelled the voluptuous vixen vamp to celebrated cult status, and beyond!
No. 02 – Starfire
Fiery alien princess – Starfire has been a favourite of the Precinct since she was first unleashed in the pages of DC Comics Presents #26 in 1980. Created by the legendary pairing of comic book royalty – George Perez and Marv Wolfman, Koriand’r instantly became a much beloved character and mainstay of The Teen Titans. Hailing from the planet Tamaran, Kory escaped the ravaging of her home by Tamaran enemies The Citadel and her own feuding sister Komand’r (aka – Blackfire) and made a new life for herself on Earth. She is currently the leader of the Teen Titans and founding member of Justice League Odyssey alongside Jessica Cruz, Azrael and Cyborg.
No. 01 – Wonder Woman
Well, if you’ve been following the Precinct for any length of time then you probably knew that the Themysciran Titan would, of course, occupy the titular top spot, and hey, guess what… you were right! I’ve been a WW fan since I was around nine years old she is truly the greatest fictional female character ever, and has had the most significant and profound effect upon female empowerment of any fictitious persona ever created. Her genius creator William Moulton Marston first envisioned the Amazonian warrior princess in 1941, when she took the covetous cover appearance on All Star Comics #8. Marston was a supporter of the Suffragette movement of the 1940’s, of whom his own wife Elizabeth was a founding member.
All hail the wondrous one!
If you’ve managed to stay the course of this list, then thanks fellow Agents. Who are some of your personal favourite female furies of all time? let battle commence in the comments below…