For the album by Tommy Shaw, see Girls with Guns (album).

Girls with guns is a sub-genre of films and animation, especially Hong Kong action films and anime, with a female protagonist in a strong lead role, set in a modern context. The genre involves gun-play, stunts and martial arts action. Some of the best known female fighters to Western audiences are Angela Mao Ying, Cheng Pei-pei, Moon Lee, Maggie Q, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi and Cynthia Rothrock.


The genre started in the 1960s when then-unknown Cheng Pei-pei starred in the 1966 Shaw Brothers Studio film Come Drink with Me, the first film to combine Hong Kong action cinema with a female as the lead.[citation needed] Cheng followed up her success in this film with Golden Swallow in 1968. Golden Harvest Studios had their own female fighter, Angela Mao Ying, best known to western audiences for playing the ill-fated sister of Bruce Lee's character in Enter the Dragon. She starred in such films as Hapkido, When Taekwondo Strikes and Lady Whirlwind.

In the early 1980s, there was a change in the Hong Kong film industry: movies had bigger budgets, new stars, and new stories.[citation needed] Two new faces appeared around this time: Michelle Yeoh and martial artist Cynthia Rothrock. They starred in the Corey Yuen directed film Yes Madam, AKA In the Line of Duty 2. The movie was a box office hit making Yeoh and Rothrock stars and reviving the "girls with guns" genre. In the mid 1980s many martial arts movies featured a female either as the lead or as the co-star in action.[citation needed]

Actresses Jade Leung, Yukari Oshima, Cynthia Khan and Joyce Godenzi would rise to prominence in similar roles.

American popular culture became fixated by girls with guns in the nineties and they were seen in many media.[1] The genre continued in the 2000s, with movies such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, So Close, Naked Weapon, Aeon Flux, and UltraViolet.

Anime and manga

The term "girls-with-guns" is also used in reference to anime series such as Bubblegum Crisis,[2][3][4][5] Gall Force,[5][6] Dirty Pair,[4][5][6][7] Gunsmith Cats,[6][8] Angel Heart,[9] and Gunslinger Girl,[6] as well as Kōichi Mashimo's trilogy of Noir, Madlax,[10] and El Cazador,[11] and works inspired or influenced by it. Yasuomi Umetsu's works such as Kite [12], Mezzo Forte[13], Mezzo DSA[14], and Kite: Liberator [15] have all been cited as being within the "girls with guns" subgenre. Rei Hiroe's Black Lagoon tends to supplement the "girl with guns" motif with other anime inspired motifs such as "maids with guns" and "nuns with guns" (the latter being a major theme in anime and manga such as Chrono Crusade and Trinity Blood).



See also


  1. Diane Waldman, Janet Walker (1999). Feminism and Documentary. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press. p. 109. ISBN 0816630070. 
  2. "Girls With Guns: Bubblegum Crisis". Girls With Guns. Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  3. " - Reviews - Bubblegum Crisis 2032 by Shouryu". Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Smits, Alex. "Girls With Guns: Animation Hot Picks". Alex-in-Wonderland. Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Bruce Carlson & Steve Pearl. "The Anime Primer". rec.arts.anime gestalt. Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "How Many Girls with Guns Anime are There?". AnimeNation. 2003-10-23. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  7. "Girls With Guns: Dirty Pair". Girls With Guns. Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  8. "Girls With Guns: Gunsmith Cats - Bulletproof". Girls With Guns. Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  9. "Angel Heart on". Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  10. Wong, A. (March 2005). "Inside Bee Train". Newtype USA: 8–15.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. "January 3-10 News". Anime News Service. 2007-01-06. Retrieved 2007-01-19. Following Noir and Madlax, this El Cazador will be the third installment in a series of what Director Koichi Mashimo has referred to as his girls-with-guns genre trilogy. 
  12. "Kite OVA ANN Encyclopedia Article". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  13. "Mezzo Forte OVA ANN Encyclopedia Article". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  14. "Mezzo TV Series ANN Encyclopedia Article". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  15. "Justin Sevakis's Review on Kite Liberator". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 

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