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Pop Rocks: Ain't She a Kick in the Head? In Praise of Gina Carano

Steve Soderbergh, the director of Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Traffic, and The Limey has always had an experimental streak. This has come out particularly in recent years, with a remake of Solaris, something called The Girlfriend Experience and the (to put it mildly) lackluster disaster epic Contagion. At least I can credit the guy for not making a *fourth* Ocean's movie (yet).

But it's his latest effort, Haywire, coming out next week, that has me honestly intrigued. It stars Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas, but it's the movie's rookie lead that I'm really interested in. That would be MMA star Gina Carano.

With a 7-1 professional record, Carano's a respectable opponent in the octagon (her one loss coming to women's #1 ranked women's fighter Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, who has since been suspended after testing positive for anabolic steroids). And from a Hollywood perspective, it also doesn't hurt that she's...easy on the eyes.

Soderbergh has made a habit recently of choosing unconventional female leads for some of his films. Besides Carano, there's his star of The Girlfriend Experience, former porn star Sasha Grey. The difference being, he didn't bother to boost Grey's effort with an A-list cast. Maybe she didn't need the support (I didn't see the movie), or maybe he's got more confidence in Carano. You tell me.

You could compare that with a Sasha Grey clip, but there aren't a lot of those I'd feel comfortable posting on a family web site.

I've heard/read some pre-emptive derogatory comments about Carano's acting ability, or lack thereof, which brings a couple things to mind. The first being, her public appearances and interviews, at least, certainly give the impression of someone self aware and media savvy enough to realize her limitations and play to her strengths. I mean, we're not asking her to reinvent Titus Andronicus here.

And second, see if you guess what all the following have in common: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Keanu Reeves. Give up? None of them could act their way out a wet paper bag with a map and a chainsaw, and that never hampered their appeal. The pure martial artists are especially lacking in the thespian skillz category, but people seem perfectly happy to forgive Jet Li and Tony Jaa as long as they can kick a dude's head clean off his body.

And then there's this.

The face that launched a thousand rear naked chokes.

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[Note: I have no idea what a "rear naked choke" actually is, it just sounded appopriate.]

So who knows? I'll admit to a certain perverse attraction to women who can kick my ass - hell, I've sought them out most of my life. Plus, I have to believe there's a market out there for female action stars who are legitimately built to inflict damage and not merely mannequins sporting prop guns their emaciated arms couldn't lift in real life.

But we'll have to see how believable Carano is when Haywire comes out. In the meantime, I can only dream about her coming to Houston for potential interviews:

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