This chapter explores aspects of the sporadic integration of women into the action cinema in the late 1980s and the 1990s, considering some of the different roles and narrative strategies developed and deployed in the process. Though there have been some spectacular (and much debated) exceptions, including Alien and its sequels, Terminator 2 or the more recent The Long Kiss Goodnight, the majority of big-budget action movies continue to focus primarily on male protagonists and to position women in supportive, often romantic, roles. Janine Turner as Sylvester Stallone’s colleague and romantic interest in Cliffhanger (1993), Halle Berry as the air hostess assistant to Kurt Russell’s hero in Executive Decision, Tea Leoni caught in the middle with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys, Cindy Crawford as lawyer in peril alongside William Baldwin in Fair Game (all 1995): such sidekick/romantic roles, though diverse, indicate the place of the

female character. At the same time, women have featured as protagonists within low and medium budget action and crime movies. Thus although high-profile movies with female protagonists such as The Long Kiss Goodnight or Twister are considered in this chapter, they should also be understood in the context of action genres more widely. Though there are specificities to the construction of the female action hero, those action films in which women have taken central roles were not developed in a separate generic space. Indeed, the increased inclusion of women in action roles has both contributed to and been part of the ways in which the genre has evolved in recent years, a process also evident in the socalled ‘revisionist’ Western.