In Western cinema, Asian actors usually get lumped into two very different stereotypes. On the one hand, we have the dour martial artist, fighting for honour and revenge, whilst on the other, we have the goofy scientist sidekick. Rarely, for an Asian gent, are we presented with a suave action hero that all the guys want to be. For the fairer sex, however, over the years, Hollywood has delivered us a cavalcade of delightful young ladies that any hero would want by his side.
So, in celebration of nothing greater than the wonder that is the Far East, today we shall be counting down our five favourite ass-kicking Asian beauties in Western cinema.
5. Yukio (Rila Fukushima) – The Wolverine
When the trailer first hit for 2013’s The Wolverine, I was extremely excited by the appearance of crimson-haired sword-wielding Yukio. Mostly because I thought that FOX were pulling a wild card by introducing the very obscure Marvel character of Namie into the franchise. Namie, codename UJ1-XD, was a cyborg character in the Runaways spin-off series, The Loners, and the third character to hold the Red Ronin mantle. What we got, however, was an even more awesome little punk Lolita in the shape of Rila Fukushima’s Yukio. A precog with more than a few skills with a samurai sword, Yukio is by far the coolest lady in the X-Men cinematic world.
4. Trini Kwon (Thuy Trang) – Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers
Okay, a little bit of a cheat in that Trini never made it to the big screen due to contractual issues, but nonetheless, the original Yellow Ranger will always be the best. In battle, she wielded the nifty power daggers before piloting the mighty sabre-toothed tiger zord. When not kicking putty butt, Trini was the heart and soul of the original team, with her peaceful yet outgoing nature and a killer smile to boot (even if she did become somewhat more masculine when it cut to the Japanese fight scenes…).
3. Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuiyama) – Kill Bill: Vol. 1
On her home turf, the stunning Chiaki Kuriyama is known for a vast array of quirky roles, from the sexy silver catsuited Agi in The Great Yokai War, to ill-fated athlete Takako in Battle Royale. To international audiences, however, she is best known for her small but iconic scene as the chain-throwing kogal Gogo in Tarantino’s Kill Bill. What the saucy schoolgirl lacked in age, she made up for in madness, and her blood-soaked battle against Uma Thurman’s Black Mamba remains one of the greatest scenes in the epic double-feature.
2. Fa Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) – Mulan
How could the greatest female hero in Disney history not make this list? By taking her father’s armour, running away from home, impersonating a soldier, endangering the lives of thousands of thousands of men and destroying the emporor’s palace, Fa Mulan saved the entire Chinese nation from the oppression of the murderous Hun. Couple that with a cracking singing voice and a menagerie of comical comrades, and you have the recipe for a girl worth fighting for. There may be some arguments as to who wears the trousers later in the relationship though…
1. Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
The outright winner of this top five quite simply has to be endearingly obsessive school girl Knives Chau. The scorned love interest of self-centred hipster Scott Pilgrim, I know I’m not alone in switching to the alternate ending where the two actually get together every time I watch the DVD. Seriously, Ramona is a dick. Knives is the real hero of the piece! Sweet, sexy, and utterly kick-ass in her knife-throwing, scarf-toting ensemble, Knives is the kind of girl that every geek has always dreamed of winning the heart of. You chose poorly, cinematic version Scott, you chose fucking poorly…