Top 5 fictional female martial arts fighters

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From folklore to TV dramas, these ladies not only kick ass but challenge social norms. They are anything but basic according to Ambrose Li


Fa Muk-lan (花木蘭)

With her story originating as far back as the fourth century AD. Fa Muk-lan is perhaps the most well-known heroine in Chinese folklore. She became internationally popular when Disney decided to tell her story in the 1998 film Mulan, but she first hit Hong Kong cinemas in 1964 Lady General Hua Mulan. The empowering character defies Confucian societal conventions that order women to be obedient housewives. By disguising herself as a young man and enlisting herself in the military in place of her aged father, Fa demonstrates strength and bravery while breaking down gender barriers and definitions.


Muk Gwai-ying (穆桂英)

Another prominent heroine from Chinese mythology, Muk Gwai-ying embodies quintessential Chinese virtues without being bound by convention. Most famously, she chose her own husband at a time of arranged marriages during the Northern Song Dynasty (11th-12th century). She fought valiantly as a general for her country and was celebrated for uniting female power by leading twelve widows in a fight against Khitan forces. Muk and her comrades won the battle and helped expand the Northern Song Empire, but at the cost of their own lives. Who needs a man? These ladies clearly don’t.


Siu Lung-niu (小龍女)

Siu Long-liu is a fictional character created by the famed wuxia (martial arts) novelist Ji Yong, and is known for her superior skill in fighting as well as her breathtaking beauty. In both the novel and the 1983 TVB series, The Return of the Condor Heroes, set in the Southern Song Dynasty (12th-13th century), Siu (played by Idy Chan) creates controversy by accepting the Ancient Tomb Sect’s male disciple, Yang Guo, and eventually marrying him. Fearless and independent, Siu never cared what anyone thought.


Lee Mok-sou (李莫愁)

Contrary to most of the upright and noble wushu characters, Lee Mok-sou is a protagonist who becomes a vicious killer following her lover’s betrayal. In revenge, she murders his entire family –  just some of the many people she put to death. She led her life in anger and regret, and died yearning for the one person she loved. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Like Siu Lung-niu above, the most famous portrayal of Lee was in the The Return of the Condor Heroes by Lisa Lui.


The Black Rose (黑玫瑰)

With her body hugging outfit and a black mask, The Black Rose is the first modern heroine in Hong Kong film history, with a lasting popularity that traces back to Chor Yuen’s 1965 film of the same name, featuring iconic actress Chan Po-chu and Nam Hung. The film sold out for nine days consecutively and subsequently led to sequels and reboots of the titular character. By robbing the rich and giving to the poor, as well as equipping herself with an assortment of crime-fighting gadgets, think of her as HK’s answer to Robin Hood and Batman. Leaving a black rose wherever she strikes, she was most recently portrayed by Kara Hui in Incredible Mama.

See also

Women in martial arts
Bringing together the trailblazing ladies who helped forge HK's greatest cinematic legacy. Read more

 

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