Female Characters Who Kick Ass: Introducing Mallory Kane

I have always been a fan of strong female heroes.  Buffy, Faith, Cordelia (in season 3 of Angel), Sydney Bristow…And this summer I’m hoping to get into The Hunger Games, and it sounds like is pretty kick-ass too.

Well, now there is another kick-ass character to add to the list: Mallory Kane.  Mallory Kane is played by MMA fighter Gina Carano in the movie Haywire.

Haywire is The Bourne Identity meets Ocean’s Eleven.  It has the feel of the 80’s action flicks of Jean-Claude Van Damme, in which the movie isn’t dependent on the star’s acting ability.  That being said, Gina does a pretty good job holding her own in the acting arena, and given a few more films, she will be pretty good.  (Remember that the trio from Harry Potter had no acting background before they got pegged for Philosopher’s Stone, and look at how they matured in their acting over the next seven films).

Move over JVC, Bruce Willis, and Jason Statham.  There is a new action hero on the scene.  But the question is, will audiences accept this 21st century heroine?

Some people might be uncomfortable with the fight scenes because of their realism.

It is this realism that caught me off-guard during the first fight scene.  Fight scenes with characters like Buffy and Sydney are almost cartoonish.  But this was different.  You can tell that Carano does all her own fight scenes, and there is nothing flashy about them.  She is doing what she knows, grappling and striking, leg locks and arm bars.  All of which makes the fight scenes have a strong sense of realism about them. Compared to the cartoonish fighting of Alias and BtVS, Mallory is fighting ‘dirty’, and is not relying on stunt doubles, special effects, wire-fu, or highly stylized choreography.

Add to it that all the fight scenes are Mallory versus guys, and there may be some discomfort at the violence involving a woman, since we’re all taught that men aren’t supposed to hit a lady. But as Ewan MacGregor’s character says to Michael Fassbender’s character “Don’t think of her as a woman”, meaning that to do so will be to underestimate her.

To those who may feel uncomfortable, I would suggest that if that is the case, ask yourself, “Would I feel uncomfortable with this violence if it was done by a male action hero?”  or “Do I feel this uncomfortable when Buffy is wailing on the vampires?”

The other thing I appreciated about this movie and the Mallory Kane character is that the movie doesn’t make her into a sex object.  It would have been easy.  An action movie for a mostly male audience means that the movie can show skin and sex appeal or even sex itself.  This movie is discreet.  The romantic sex scene is all innuendo, with the scene cut after the kiss, and restarted the morning after.  As well, when Mallory has to go undercover in evening wear, she shows just how uncomfortable she is with it.  It is not her.  She is playing a part.  But more importantly, the evening wear isn’t skanky or revealing; it is classy and elegant.

From what I’ve seen, the movie is getting decent reviews.  I hope that means that we will see more of Mallory Kane/Gina Carano in the future.  At the very least, hopefully it shines a spotlight on the female MMA circuit. There are some very talented female athletes who compete and who don’t get nearly the coverage that the male-dominated UFC gets.

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12 thoughts on “Female Characters Who Kick Ass: Introducing Mallory Kane

  1. Pingback: Female Characters Who Kick Ass: Introducing Mallory Kane « Cheese-Wearing Theology

    1. Amanda Mac Post author

      It was a good popcorn movie. And what I also liked was how many “names” they got to be in it. Ewan MacGregor, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, and Michael Fassbender. I’m really liking Fassbender and he seems to be everywhere right now.

  2. Chuck Grantham

    Carano had better make all she can of this film because I doubt she’ll ever again be treated this well as far as director and co-stars; the film is absolutely a vehicle designed to put her in her best light.

    Action films with females are an intriguing idea because in the hand to hand stuff they ought to be rather like the old Chuck Norris films, which typically ended with him taking on a much larger meaner foe and barely fighting through. With women stars however, every fight is potentially a duel with a much larger opponent, so the character has the potential to be that much more heroic.

    Unfortunately most fighting females on film are superheroines who destroy bigger opponents with the wind from a single kick. Not too long ago I almost stood up and cheered when watching Clash, in which the fighting heroine really couldn’t do much in a fight with some larger beefed-up European opponents. You seldom see that sort of realism in martial arts films, which mostly sell the fantasy.

    Of course, my typical take in any film fight is to think, “You’re not an ape; use a tool. Preferably upside the other guy’s head.” Slamming the opponent into every hard surface in the room works pretty good, too. Films are getting better that way.

    I hope to see Haywire tomorrow, if the cats and dogs falling outside my window right now cease.

      1. Chuck Grantham

        I enjoyed it quite a lot. The fights are getting all the press, but really it’s a lean spycraft film punctuated with hand to hand fights. And for all the talk of the men doing the acting heavy lifting, let’s be honest: there weren’t any acting scenes for the guys to put on their show reels.

        The chief character points of Carano’s Kane are very simple: she’s competent, unrelenting, and likes being an operator. Beyond that we know she likes wine. How much more do we need to know?

        I get the feeling there wasn’t a huge sum of money involved in this film. For all the acting talent, no one did much work, and the globe-trotting looked quite focused; no wasted tourist stuff. The limited music and some of the shooting style made it feel almost documentary.

        Lack of budget is a good thing, because maybe that means we’ll get another one or two like it. I wouldn’t mind at all.

    1. Charles

      “Of course, my typical take in any film fight is to think, “You’re not an ape; use a tool. Preferably upside the other guy’s head.” Slamming the opponent into every hard surface in the room works pretty good, too. Films are getting better that way.”

      Then you’d like this film. Here’s the first fight scene (action starts at the 3-minute mark):

      I also liked the fact that two bystanders stepped in to help.

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