“I believe O-Ren Ishii is the woman that Little Edie was talking about when she described a ‘STAUNCH character’ in Grey Gardens.”
There is a great deal of debate over Quentin Tarantino – especially over his female characters. Some think his women are essentially the violence equivalent of porn stars, some think he portrays badass bitches with a deft hand and an empathetic eye. Either way you look at it, he has created some kweens who do not fuck around and leave piles of corpses in their wakes. Here, we (Editrix and rabid Tarantino fan Ma’Chell Duma LaVassar also contributed her two-cents) attempt to rank his leading ladies from least deadly (basically a body or two here and there) to most deadly (oh, just blood spurting everywhere and a literal tower of dead bodies). The character’s general badass-ness is also a judging factor- As well as deadliness potential (some characters just don’t get the chance yet, but we know they’ve got it in ‘em!) and stylishness (because- let’s face it, it’s fuckin’ Tarantino!). YOU’RE WELCOME!
25. Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) in Django Unchained: She never really killed anyone… But man, Jamie Foxx and company killed a fuckton of people to get to her. Extra points for just being Kerry Washington because Kerry Washington is a BOSS.
24. Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) in Pulp Fiction: Honey Bunny is obviously the brains behind the Honey Bunny/Pumpkin robbery operation. She gets the idea to steal the wallets. You just know that if anyone tried to fuck with her Pumpkin, she would go full-on executioner, just like she promised those diner patrons. They work so well together because they love each other. Ain’t love fuckin grand?!?
23. Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in Death Proof: Lee is the actress, so she’s not quite as tough as her homegirls, the stunt women. And they just leave her with some creepy hick while they joyride in his muscle car. But something tells me if that redneck tried to fuck with her she could hold her own. I would love for Tarantino to make a short film of Lee and the country bumpkin, waiting for the ladies to get back with the car. I just know Lee is capable of a little ass kicking of her own.
22. Shanna (Jordan Ladd) in Death Proof: She’s just trying to get drunk with her girlfriends and have a cool time… until there’s creepy dudes and then, you know, murder and stuff. But she seems like fun and her air-drumming is ON POINT.
21. Melanie Ralston (Bridget Fonda) in Jackie Brown: She’s pretty annoying most of the time. She’s all bikini-clad and making smoothies and shit. Her general obnoxiousness is her demise when she bugs Bob DeNiro so much he stone-cold busts a cap in that jean-shorts-clad ass. So, you know, maybe don’t question people’s ability to find the car in the mall parking lot?
20. Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito) in Death Proof: She may have given a lap dance to the very creep who would then vehicularly homicide her but she mistrusts him from the jump and that makes Arlene a complete badass. Plus, that lap dance was pretty much smokin’!
19. Jungle Julia (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) in Death Proof: Jungle Julia is a fucking QUEEN in Austin. Everyone knows her, everyone loves her. She’s a shit-hot DJ who owns the the town. But no matter how hard she is, she gets fucking sad when the boy she likes doesn’t show up for her. And her feeling her feelings is what makes Jungle Julia tough as hell.
18. Pam (Rose McGowan) in Death Proof: Pam is above the other ladies in the first half of Death Proof because she willingly gets into a car with Stuntman Mike. That takes serious lady balls, seeing as how that dude pretty much has a tattoo across his forehead that says “CREEPY FUCKER.” I mean, really?!?!? Gurl, you crazy. But, you know, git it (?!) we guess…
17. Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus) in Kill Bill: As O-Ren Ishii’s right-hand woman, it’s her loyalty to the bitter end and her willingness to die for her BFF (and like, maybe totally gay lover?) and boss. She clearly lives to be O-Ren’s homegurl and it eventually leads the loss of her limbs, which she willingly gives for O-Ren. I mean, when your bestie is that tuff, it’s a no-brainer.
16. Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) in Inglourious Basterds: Bridget is a beautiful movie star who goes into enemy territory to help fuck over the Nazis. She’s charming, smart AND tough as hell. She survives that insane bar shootout and nearly outsmarts Colonel Landa with her cockamamie mountain climbing injury fib. Alas, he chokes her out. But she fights like hell for her life – just like she do.
15. Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) in True Romance – If nothing else but for the fact that she’s a hooker with a heart a gold, ovaries of steal and a fashion ICON. I mean, those pink leopard pants? Those in and of themselves might send you to a sweet, lovely death- but it’s her survive- at- all-costs take down of Tony Soprano himself (not to mention the body count she inspires) that makes her one of Tarantino’s most brutal babes.
14. Mrs. Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) in Pulp Fiction: Sometimes being the kinda dame a guy would kill for makes you deadlier than any murderess. Having the kind of husband who would throw a man out a window *allegedly* for touching your feet and proceeding to flirt with his henchman, makes you a hardcore example of the former. And, come on, her killer dancing skills alone place her pretty high on this list – add to that her ability to come back from the dead, her Fox Force Five character’s skillz with knivez and her classic black bob and you’ve got a formidably deadly broad.
13. Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek) in From Dusk Til Dawn – Fuck Bella Swan. Santanico is the baddest vampire bitch ever… And the only one of QT’s female characters to kill the man himself onscreen.
12. Abernathy (Rosario Dawson) in Death Proof: Basically all of the women in that Dodge Challenger are bad bitches to the Nth degree. But Abernathy earns her badass stripes through the course of that harrowing ride. By the end, she’s ready to haul back and kick Stuntman Mike’s face in, in her goddamn unicorn t-shirt. Bless her.
11. Kate Fuller (Juliette Lewis) in From Dusk till Dawn – Kate is a pastor’s daughter who unwittingly becomes a killer when she’s kidnapped by the outlaw Gecko brothers. The killer role suits her well and her bad girl britches get broken in real fast when she has to take on the undead.
10. Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) in Kill Bill: The fight between Vernita and The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo is maybe one of the best fight scenes of all time, IMHO. Just the respect that exists between Vernita and Beatrix is amazing. It makes her (and Beatrix) all the more formidable. I can’t wait til little Nikki grows up and comes for revenge. That’ll be my favorite Tarantino joint of the 2020s.
9. Go-Go Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama) in Kill Bill: Go-Go. Ugh. Fucking Go-Go. She’s O-Ren Ishii’s teenage bodyguard. Wearing a schoolgirl’s uniform and wielding a mace. She has got NO TIME for your nerdy mess. “Do you still wish to penetrate me?…Or is it I who has penetrated you?” I mean. I MEAN. Gurl. I can. NOT.
8. Zoe Bell (Zoe Bell) in Death Proof: She’s a fucking stuntwoman. In the movie and in real life. I want to be Zoe Bell. She’s so insanely goddamn TOUGH. I can’t even handle it. And that part where they finally get away from the relentless Stuntman Mike and you think she’s a goner then she just pops up out of the bushes like a bunny. She’s a KWEEEEEEN.
7. Kim (Tracie Thoms) in Death Proof: Kim is the coolest. She barely fucking breaks a sweat while going head to head with the sadistic Stuntman Mike, who just thinks killing women is sure a fun and cool pastime. And when they decide to go after him she looks like she’s literally having the most fun she’s ever had in her life. That vengence-fueled bloodlust is what I am LIVING FOR.
6. Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) in Natural Born Killers – How sexy is she now, motherfuckers? Mallory leaves a body COUNT in her path. Unlike the Bride who’s out for vengeance, Mallory’s murderous rampage is (mostly) for the fun of it. She and husband Mickey’s notorious killing spree is actually based on a true story and it’s fucking BRUTAL.
5. Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) in Kill Bill: I love Daryl Hannah. She gets points just for being a woman named Daryl. Then the eyepatch and the whistling. So fucking menacing. That whistle was my ringtone for like, 3 years. And it sorta gave me chills every fucking time. If Elle teaches us anything it is that you should never mess with a bitch who is number 2 and pissed off.
4. Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) in Jackie Brown: There are a lot of men in this movie. And a lot of heavyweight actors: Robert DeNiro, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Michael Keaton. But when you watch this film, you’re waiting for the next moment Pam Grier is on screen and when she is on screen, your eyes are on her. She owns this movie. She owns everything.
3. Shoshanna (Melanie Laurent) in Inglourious Basterds: She plans her revenge for decades after the Nazi asshole Hans Landa slaughters her whole family. She goes to great lengths to execute her plans and puts its success above all else, including love. That scene with the strudel, where you can just see the hate she’s feeling and how much restraint she’s practicing to not go straight for Landa’s jugular vein and tear it out with her bare hands like a lioness. And then the burning. And the laughing. And the burning. It’s so GOOD.
2. The Bride (Beatrix Kiddo) in Kill Bill: She’s pretty much the definition of a survivor. She comes out of a coma, teaches herself how to move her body again, and goes on a path of revenge that spans two films (hopefully three, someday!). That yellow motorcycle outfit. All the bad motherfuckers she took down. And although Bill is her main focus and the “patriarch” of the Deadly Viper Assassins, it’s her fellow female assassins that she has the most memorable fights with. And the one she seems both most satisfied with and saddest about triumphing over. Because they used to be her friends. But, you know, they did whoop her ass, steal her baby and leave her for dead… So they kinda deserved it.
1. O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) in Kill Bill: O-Ren’s origin story and the empire she built is what make her #1 on this list. She worked HARD for that SHIT, you guys. And she’s a BOSS-ASS BITCH. The animation, the snow fight scene, her best friendship with Sofie Fatale. Everything about her is so BEAUTIFUL. Including her bloodlust. She made herself who she is. She’s essentially the female Batman. Or the female Dexter. Either way, she’s truly fucking deadly scary and NOT TO BE MESSED WITH. I believe O-Ren Ishii is the woman that Little Edie was talking about when she described a “STAUNCH character” in Grey Gardens.