6 Asian Female Characters Who Kick Ass In Recent Movies And TV Shows

 Shogun on FX on Hulu.
Shogun on FX on Hulu.
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One thing I love with my full heart is women who kick ass. Whether it’s Furiosa, Ripley, or Samus from my beloved Metroid series, there's nothing I adore more than a woman who cleans house (and I don't mean in a “wash the dishes, fold the laundry” sort of way, but rather, in a Drowning Pool, “Let the bodies hit the floor” sort of way).

So, with that in mind, I thought I would focus on Asian women who kick ass. But, I'm not going super far back, like Lady Snowblood in the ‘70s, or Michelle Yeoh in Police Story 3: Supercop from the ‘90s, or even Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon from 2000 (though, she does definitely make this list).

No, I'm only focusing on Asian women who kick butt in modern day times. So, with that said, here are six Asian female characters who kick ass in recent movies and TV shows.

Jubilee in X-Men: The Animated Series
Jubilee in X-Men: The Animated Series

Jubilation Lee (X-Men '97)

I've gone on and on about how much I love X-Men ‘97 to the point that it's almost redundant. But, I do love it! And I think the live-action MCU could learn a thing or two from it.

One such thing it could learn is how to create an amazing Jubilee. Because yes, there have been live-action versions of the character in some of the X-Men movies, but they all felt more like an afterthought, unfortunately, whereas this Jubilee has a whole storyline centered around her and her boyfriend, Roberto, in the segment, “Motendo.”

Voiced by Holly Chou, this Jubilee kicks ass with her pyrotechnic energy plasmoids (you know, her fireworks), but what's coolest about this version is that she knows what she wants, she stands up for what she believes in, and she fights alongside the other X-Men. How cool is that?

Anna Sawai stands defiantly next to an armored guard in Shōgun.
Anna Sawai stands defiantly next to an armored guard in Shōgun.

Toda Mariko (Shogun)

I mostly loved everything about the Shogun miniseries, but there were a couple issues that I had with it. That said, one of those issues certainly wasn't Toda Mariko, portrayed by the wonderful Anna Sawai.

As somebody who loves the Shogun novel, I already knew what a badass Lady Mariko was. But, Anna Sawai brought a really interesting aspect to her character, showcasing somebody who was just as skilled at composing a masterful poem as she was with wielding a naginata.

No spoilers, but the fact that she was able to live her life the way that she wanted to is just further proof that she was a badass for the ages.

Priya Kansara in Polite Society
Priya Kansara in Polite Society

Ria Khan (Polite Society)

Ria Khan, a.k.a. The Fury (played by Priya Kansara), wants to be a stuntwoman. She also dearly loves her sister, Lena (played by Ritu Arya). Their parents aren’t happy with their life decisions, but they’re at least happy. That is, until Lena gets set up on a date with a guy Ria doesn’t like.

In that way, Lena becomes happy, but Ria becomes unhappy. And, you wouldn’t like Ria when she’s unhappy, because that’s when she starts punching and kicking. That’s just what badasses do.

Ria is more than just a slap happy version of Kung Fu Panda’s Po, though. She’s also intensely loyal to her sister, and is willing to master the reverse spinning kick in order to save her from what turns out to be a pretty zany plot involving clones. If you haven’t already figured it out yet, Polite Society is a really weird (And wonderful!) movie.

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once
Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once

Evelyn Quan Wang (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

It still blows my mind that Everything Everywhere All At Once won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. I mean, I love it (I was even raving about it before it garnered the gold), but it's still pretty shocking to me that a movie that has so much kung fu in it was still awarded with the Academy’s highest honor.

Even though I love pretty much everything about this movie, my favorite thing about it is the character of Evelyn, portrayed by Michelle Yeoh (who has been whooping ass for quite some time now).

Evelyn’s character is inspirational in many ways. Because even though her life may appear mundane on the surface, somewhere, there’s a version of her who is a movie star, and a version of her with hot dog fingers, and even a version of her who can master several martial arts disciplines in a matter of seconds.

Sure, there’s a much deeper narrative in this movie about the immigrant’s story, and generational differences, and a whole manner of philosophical topics, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my favorite part was when Evelyn fought off several people with a police shield.

Ming-Na Wen in The Mandalorian
Ming-Na Wen in The Mandalorian

Fennec Shand (The Book of Boba Fett/The Mandalorian)

Oh, man. I could probably do a whole list about Ming-Na Wen kicking ass. She’s the actress who plays Fennec Shand on The Book of Boba Fett/The Mandalorian, but she also played Chun-Li in Street Fighter, voiced Mulan, and was Agent Melinda May on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

But, I digress. Let me focus on Fennec again. As a mercenary and assassin, she can handle her own, and only aligns with the likes of Boba Fett or The Mandalorian when she finds that it would be advantageous to her.

That said, you definitely don’t want to get on her bad side, since she’s a master with a rifle, but also highly proficient in hand to hand combat. She’s the kind of woman who even the Mandalorian owes his life to. But, it’s all in a day’s work for her.

Olivia Liang in Kung Fu
Olivia Liang in Kung Fu

Nicky Shen (Kung Fu)

Many years ago, in a decade far, far away known as the ‘70s, there was a television show called Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, starring David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine. He walked the earth, and practiced martial arts. Tarantino, an obvious fan, got Carradine to play the titular Bill in his Kill Bill series. It was a whole vibe.

Flash forward to modern times, and we have an adaptation of Kung Fu that ran for three seasons on The CW, and this time, instead of hiring a white dude to wander the earth, they hired an Asian woman named Olivia Liang. In the series, she plays a college student named Nicky Shen who leaves school and goes off to learn martial arts, only to return to San Francisco and find that the Triads have taken over.

Throughout the series, Nicky kicks ass, but also tries to stop the person who killed her mentor. Much like the original, this version of Kung Fu is also a vibe. Too bad we won’t get a fourth season.

How many of these shows and movies have you watched? For more news on other women who kick ass, make sure to swing by here often!