Ranking the best films featuring bad-ass action movie moms!
Female action heroes rightly have become just as prevalent as their male counterparts in the last two decades. The action heroine usually pursues her mission rather recklessly, but when she has kids things suddenly become more complicated (and often more interesting) as it’s not only her life that is on the line. It’s Mother’s Day, and we have compiled the 10 best actioners featuring bad-ass mothers or their offspring doing some damage. So to all you mothers out there, happy Mother’s Day, and we hope you enjoy the list!
10) Daughter of the Wolf (2019)
The abducted child and the ensuing rampage of the parent to get him or her back to safety, is a popular theme in action films since Schwarzenegger’s Commando, and Daughter of the Wolf is one of several films on our list with premise. Claire’s (Gina Carano) son Charlie has been abducted by a group of people who demand ransom, and also harbor a grudge towards her family. The film has a distinct low-budget look and the action are scenes not particularly impressive.
They keep coming at a good rate, though, and are beautifully embedded in spectacular takes of the snowy Canadian mountains and forests. There also are some hints towards a mystical connection between Claire and the wolfs roaming the wilderness, as they usually show up in the right moments to rip her adversaries to shreds. Daughter of the Wolf is a by-the numbers actioner that is saved from total mediocrity thanks to Gina Carano’s charisma and physical prowess.
9) Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)
Parents willingly or unwillingly are role models for children, and if your mother is a professional killer, it’s only natural to follow in her footsteps. Sam (Karen Gillan) discovers her conscience while on a hit job, saves a young girl, and incurs the wrath of her employer. On the run she gets reunited with her mother Scarlet (Lena Headey) who abandoned her at a young age, and together they take the fight back to their pursuers.
Sam and her mother are hammering and shooting her way through bowling alleys and doctor’s offices, all filmed with a superb action choreography. The film has a colorful comic-book vibe, tongue-in-cheek humor, and ultra-bloody action sequences, there’s nothing else we could ask from an action flick. Gunpowder Milkshake is a fun ride, and you’ll never look at a librarian the same way after watching this film.
8) Kidnap (2017)
Kidnap already states its premise unambiguously in the title. Karla (Halle Berry) sees her son getting kidnapped at a fair. She immediately gets into her car and embarks on a relentless chase to rescue her child. The film follows Karla’s ordeal almost in real time, and most of it is a car chase that never steps on the brakes. Her car is the only weapon she has at her disposal and rarely has a vehicle been used so fiercely in an actioner as in Kidnap.
The mini-van mayhem leads to a couple of cool car stunts and lots of wrecks. Halle Berry delivers an intense performance as a woman pushed over the edge, oscillating between desperate and total bad-ass. Kidnap is 90 minutes pure adrenaline, and you’ll be surprised how much ass this film is kicking.
7) Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 play like one single film, but only in the second part we get to know the Bride’s daughter. After being shot by Bill and left to die at her wedding rehearsal while being pregnant, Beatrix Kiddo believes she had lost her daughter. After taking out the first two members of Bill’s crew in the first part, she gets closer to him, but first needs to endure more grueling ordeals, the worst of them being buried alive.
Her rendezvous with Bill is less than warm when she finally finds him, and learns that he has been raising their common daughter for four years. Fortunately he gets what he deserves in a manner that can only happen in a Tarantino movie. Uma Thurman immortalized herself as one of the most formidable action heroines in this action-packed and totally bananas masterpiece.
6) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Terminator 2 is an action classic for eternity, and the relationship between Sarah Connor and her son John is a central aspect of the film. If you are the predetermined savior of the human race from the machines, Sarah Connor may seem like the perfect mother, training you in military combat and leadership resolve.
Tragically, she forgot than John is also a child, and after the T-800 frees Sarah from a psychiatric ward, their relationship remains strained. As the film progresses, John seems to be able to relate more to the cyborg than to his living and breathing mother.
5) Peppermint (2018)
Peppermint opens with a grim premise for a Mother’s day film. The husband and daughter of Riley (Jennifer Garner) are killed by hitmen. When the shooters are acquitted by a corrupt judge, Riley disappears and returns a few years later to exert bloody revenge on everyone who had a hand in the killing of her family. Like in every good revenge flick, a massive tragedy is created to justify the ultraviolent events that follow.
Garner is a complete bad-ass with some serious fighting skills, and Peppermint is a welcome return to her roots as action heroine in the Alias TV show. The film does not add anything new to the classic revenge rampage plot, but is focused at all times on maximum carnage and would make Charles Bronson proud.
4) Furie (2019)
Vietnam’s take on the parent rescuing their abducted child premise is one of the best ever created. The films tells the story of Hai, who gets by as a debt collector, and her daughter Mai. When Mai is kidnapped, Hai follows her captors to Saigon, where she is haunted by her former life in the criminal underworld. If done right, the abduction of a loved child creates a big emotional investment for the viewers, and Furie introduces introduces us effectively to Hai and the somewhat troubled relationship with her daughter.
Vietnamese superstar Veronica Ngo delivers some impressive fights even though she is not a martial artist by training. Furie is beautifully filmed with dark and neon-infused visuals, not unlike the John Wick films. Similarly, the hard-hitting fights are staged with a superb choreography that catapult Furie easily into the first tier of martial arts actioners.
3) Chocolate (2008)
One of the two films on our list where not the mother, but mostly her child deals the damage, is another high-octane martial arts actioner with some seriously heartbreaking moments. Autistic girl Zen lives with her mother, who is suffering from cancer and is unable to pay the medical bills. Zen uses her martial arts skills to collect money from people who owe her mother from back in the days when she was a gangster bride.
The film throws a large dose of sentimentality at us, a sick mother and an an autistic child (with a from what I can tell respectful portrayal of autism in children and teenagers). Soon-after the film flips into a manic martial arts fest. Yanin Vismitananda in her debut displays some pretty awesome skills in her role as Zin as she takes up one gang after another. Each fight is getting more violent and spectacular, with elbows and knee delivering crippling strikes. Director Prachya Pinkaew who created the Tony Jaa classics Ong-Bak and The Protector stages it all perfectly, and Chocolate is another awesome entry into Thai martial arts cinema.
2) Everly (2014)
One room, a kid, her mother and grandmother, a stack of weapons and a Yakuza army are the ingredients for this campy bloodbath by genre specialist Joe Lynch. Salma Hayek is Everly, a prostitute for the Yakuza who takes lethal revenge on some gang members. Boss Taiko wants her dead, and sends his henchmen to attack the apartment where Everly is hiding with her daughter and mother.
The film is a non-stop showdown with ultraviolent killings and demolitions, and a great variety of villains (among them assassin prostitutes, killer dogs and torture specialists). Hayek is the ultimate heroine, a ruthless killer and caring mother at the same time. Everly is absurd, crazy and gory, and it’s also a Christmas movie!
1) The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Our winner is one of the best 1990s actioners, and in addition to featuring a mother-child story it’s yet another film randomly set around the Christmas time. Samantha leads a happy suburbian life, but suffers from partial amnesia. When she gets hit on her head in a car accident, she is assailed by flashes of a violent past. After defending her home during a brutal home invasion and an uncanny display of knife skills she goes on a dangerous journey to protect her family.
Geena Davis is just perfect in her role, a caring mother that gradually transform into an assassin. She is supported by Samuel J. Jackson as private investigator with his usual loose mouth. Director Renny Harlin and writer Shane Black created some awesome action sequences full of destructive chaos, and the insane finale will have you jump like a pinball with excitement. The Long Kiss Goodnight is full of humor, great characters and high-octane action, the perfect film for every action fan, but especially on Mother’s Day!