The Powerpuff Girls Movie (2002): As early as Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed, audiences have been thrilled by the idea of little girls—the very embodiment of innocence and perfection—turning the stereotype on its head and going on a homicidal rampage. But pig-tailed McCormack was a smooth operator, murdering without muddying her summer dress. The idea of the ass-kicking little girl is a relatively recent development, fully seized upon by animator Craig McCracken and his ‘toon about kindergarten tots with superpowers.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003): Chiaki Kuriyama, one of the stars of the killer kiddies favorite Battle Royale, briefly steals Quentin Tarantino’s genre pastiche spectacular, playing henchwoman Gogo Yubari. The very embodiment of the cute Japanese schoolgirl, short skirt and all, she does more than swing a meteor hammer at Uma Thurman’s Bride. Annoy her on a date, and she’ll disembowel you.
Let the Right One In (2008): She may be played by 11-year-old Lina Leandersson, but Stockholm suburb resident Eli is in truth exponentially older—a vampire, it turns out, whose feelings for lonely boy Oskar reveal themselves in the film’s climactic piece of gory bully-dispensing.
The Machine Girl (2008): Her brother, killed by a Ninja-Yakuza scion, her left arm heartlessly severed, Ami (Minase Yashiro)—another Japanese schoolgirl—has her missing appendage replaced with an enormous machine gun. Cue 96 minutes of cheaply computerized, amazing gore.
Chocolate (2008): Having introduced the world to Thai martial-arts wizard Tony Jaa, director Prachya Pinkaew moved onto someone arguably even more jaw-dropping: teenage girl Yanin Vismistananda. She plays an autistic girl seeking revenge, and man, can she kick high.
Kick-Ass (2010): The movie may be named for its superpower-less faux-superhero, but the movie is stolen by Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz, of the inevitable Let the Right One In remake), trained by her father (Nicolas Cage!) to be a purple-wigged crimefighter who fells baddies with spears and perfectly hurled knives.
It’s a hell of a lot of fun, giving a well-deserved wedgie to Hollywood’s recent glut of solemn, costumed avenger epics.
Jet Li doesn’t seem the family-friendly type.
2014 Films: The Year’s Most Likely